458 GETTY IMAGES MOVES SEATTLE DESIGN OPERATIONS TO LONDON
January 22, 2002
In an internal memo to employees, Lewis Blackwell, SVP of Creative Direction, has announced
that they will "close the Seattle design studio operations of Getty Images and migrate all
operations to a single global design studio in London," before the end of February 2002.
A main emphasis of the Seattle studio had been the design of marketing products for
PhotoDisc, although it participated in the work on other products as well. This follows the
closing of the PhotoDisc scanning operations last August, and the consolidation of all
scanning in London. (Story 422 )
Blackwell said, "I would like to stress that this decision has nothing to do with the
performance of the Seattle design studio or of Getty Images as a whole. Nor is it motivated
in anyway by the recent slowdown in the economy. The decision is driven by a strategic
imperative: we are consolidating and integrating
operations so that we are more agile, more responsive to our customers and better at
communicating as one company."
The Seattle studio had won major awards for the products it had designed and for the
technical quality of its productions, but that was not enough to keep it operating.
Staff costs are somewhat lower in London than Seattle, but according to a spokesman the
"decision had nothing to do with staff costs," rather it was driven more by the overlapping
group functions that were a result of Getty Images' aggressive acquisition strategy, which
was completed in early 2000.
Blackwell continued, "We have tried, sometimes very creatively, to find strong reasons to
keep multiple studios open but, at the end of the day, the business logic is simply not
One of the issues that has concerned Rights Protected photographers in the U.S. has been the
tendency of London to make all decisions concerning which images would be uploaded to the
web. Many U.S. photographers have felt that these decisions failed to take into consideration
the unique needs and characteristics of the U.S. market, and thus are concerned about
additional concentrations of control in London. However, in the past year this editing
control has been greatly decentralized. Now each of the local editing teams in Los Angeles,
New York and Seattle has been given much greater autonomy in choosing images for the web
Blackwell acknowledged that, "there is a strong case for our creative researchers to be close
to sales and clients in major locations," and "for art directors to be in many locations with
photographers." However, he said that it is hard to make the same argument for multiple
centers of production to create our marketing tools.
The creative studio will be under the management of Chris Green, who has been promoted to VP,
Creative Operations and Chris Ashworth
will continue in his role as Global Design Director.
Despite the movement of some operations to London, Getty Images is still very pleased with
their choice of Seattle as their corporate headquarters. CEO Jonathan Klein said recently,
"the move of headquarters to Seattle is one of the best decisions the company has ever
made. We are deeply committed to Seattle -- our finance, HR, legal, marketing and technology
departments are almost totally based in Seattle. Nearly all of our Senior Vice Presidents are
located in Seattle, and we have just made a very long-term commitment to our presence in
Seattle via our new office buildings. Those buildings were designed and built especially for
Getty Images, to accommodate the company's long-term business objectives and growth."