Brief Encounters: Francisco Anton-Serrano

Francisco Anton-Serrano talks about setting up Fast Management Photographic Agency in Hong Kong in 2006, and the pros and cons of the industry

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 4:35am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 2:55pm

"When I was 18 I was accepted by London's Chelsea School of Art as well as Central Saint Martins to study fine art but declined both acceptance letters and opted to read business studies instead, probably much to the relief of my father who was concerned that I would end up like Van Gogh, mad and penniless.

After finishing business school I went into corporate finance in Paris. I guess the peer pressure at the time meant that I wanted to start my business career in the field that paid the most, and my friends and I were ridiculously competitive at that time. I quickly realised that finance really wasn't for me and that I needed to move into something more creative, perhaps on the management side of things.

I moved back to London from Paris and opened a PR division for a fashion showroom and from then moved to a photographic agency and then to the model agency that I ran with my two partners for nearly 10 years.

My arrival in Hong Kong was similar to that of many foreign nationals. I had reached a point in my life in Europe where I needed a new challenge, a change of direction in my career and a new outlook in life. My partner and I had just completed the sale of our London home and had put in an offer for a new place when he was suddenly made an offer to move to Hong Kong for his company.

The thought of leaving behind all those elements of comfort and familiarity that Europe presented me with was initially daunting but, at the same time, the excitement of moving so far away to Hong Kong, a city that I had never visited before, was too tempting to decline.

My last company in London had been a model agency, where I was one of the three partners, representing some of the most sought after female models in the fashion industry, so you could say that fashion was the obvious choice for me in Hong Kong.

The start of my photographic agency was gradual. When I started consulting for some fashion brands I was asked whether I knew of any good photographers. The second time I was asked that question, I had, one would say, a eureka moment and decided to explore and eventually launch Fast Management in 2006.

I am extremely happy with managing the careers of such an incredible roster of photographers, but if I was not doing this I would probably be in publishing - I've always entertained the idea of launching a fashion magazine - or I would be in my studio painting canvases and making a complete mess in the process.

The best thing about working in the fashion industry is the people and the long-lasting camaraderie that exists between them. Working in the field of fashion and advertising photography keeps my mind alert, creative and indeed young.

The worst things about my field are the deadlines and that little invention called Photoshop that is often seen as the solution to all problems.

Being in one of the most global industries you often have to work hard to find something new and exciting for your shoots, but at the same time this keeps you on your toes ensuring that everything that is shot by the photographers represented by Fast Management is unique and contains a strong signature.

I was recently reading an article about stylish cities and how the concept of style was no longer just limited to the way we dress. It comprises a holistic definition which includes standard of living, architecture, and landscape. Even gastronomy was cited as an important component of what makes a city stylish.

With this in mind my top cities would be Rome for the history, London for quirkiness, New York for the open spaces and Hong Kong and any Spanish city for the food.

Anyone who owns their own business has to deal with very much the same the day-to-day decisions as well as perhaps the most common trial - balancing personal and professional life.

My secrets to staying sane? My partner, my family, my friends, my pets and plenty of smiles to go around."

In an earlier version of the story, Francisco Anton-Serrano's name was misspelled as "Fransisco Anton-Serrano".