News UK announces the launch of Studio PI, an independent photography and illustration agency that champions talent from underrepresented backgrounds in the creative industry. Studio PI launches as an international spotlight continues to shine on disparity in diversity. Numerous studies have found that women, people of colour, people with disabilities and people from working-class backgrounds have been greatly underrepresented in the creative sector.
As a first from a media owner, Studio PI will offer creative agencies and other publishers the opportunity to commission artists from all walks of life.
Sachini Imbuldeniya, Founder and Managing Director of Studio PI, wanted to redress the balance and help provide diverse artists with the right platforms to shine:
“Studio PI’s mission is to champion diversity in this industry and celebrate those artists whose voices are not heard enough and whose talent isn’t seen enough. We wanted to build a creative space that promotes equality, supports emerging talent who are struggling to get a foot in the door and provides our nation with balanced visual content that is a true reflection of the society we live in.”
Studio PI launches with 9 photographers and 10 illustrators selected by a panel of industry experts via a blind judging process. This panel included creative directors, art directors and picture editors from some of News UK’s own brands, including Suzanne Sykes, Creative Director at The Sunday Times Style, along with Matt Willey, Partner at Pentagram, Paul Pensom, Art Director at Creative Review, Kevin Fay, Art Director at British GQ, Paul Rider, Head of Art at We Are Social and more. Candidates were judged solely on the quality of their work – all names and biographies were removed to avoid any unconscious bias. The final roster of talent includes: Kofi Paintsil, Philipp Raheem, Martina Lang, Ejatu Shaw, Brunel Johnson, Jameela Elfaki, Ming Tang-Evans, Chantel King, Eddie Blagbrough, Selman Hoşgör, Ngadi Smart, Janice Chang, Harriet Noble, Sinem Erkas, Daryl Rainbow, Sneha Shanker, Gem D’Souza, Frieda Ruh and Ana Yael.
Studio PI will operate as an independent agency, within News UK’s commercial division, The Bridge. The agency will take commissions from publications and creative agencies across the sector, as well as News UK’s editorial brands and commercial teams.
Dominic Carter, Group Chief Commercial Officer at News UK, comments: “As a trusted media owner we have a responsibility and platform to support underrepresented talent in our industry. Following a year of conversations around a lack of diversity in media, there is no better time to launch an agency which will support emerging talent. We’re proud to be a voice for them, and I look forward to how the agency, and our wider business, will continue to leverage a change that is so desperately needed.”
A team of seven will run the agency, led by Sachini and co-founder Darren Smith, who will also both retain their current roles at News UK’s content agency, Bridge Studio. As part of the launch two agents have been hired to manage the photographers and illustrators. Tara Bonakdar is co-founder of Bonakdar Cleary and has been a photographic agent for 25 years, while Claire Cheung, is an award-winning art director with over 17 years’ experience in the editorial and commercial publishing sector, most recently for Stylist.
News UK is one of the leading media businesses in the UK and Ireland, owning newsbrands like The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Sun on Sunday and The TLS. News UK is owned by News Corp, a global, diversified media and information services company focused on creating and distributing authoritative and engaging content.