She founded one of the most respected illustration agencies in the world, she sits on the jury of the International Startup Festival of Montréal and she created the MeatMarketPhoto.com platform, promoting photography professionals to major clients around the world. She… is Anna Goodson, an entrepreneur who loves her city, a facilitator who makes creative encounters happen, and a marketer who promotes image and reputation beyond borders.
“I want to do something I enjoy and I like having fun in everything I do. That’s why I love Montréal. Because even business is fun here.”
Are you from Montréal?
Yes, I was born here. I grew up in Dorval in a very White Anglo-Saxon environment and I knew nothing about the city’s francophone side until I got to Cegep. That’s when I fell in love with it all – the language, the music, the culture. It was love at first sight! I’m still crazy about Montréal, even today.
What are you passionate about?
I’ve been involved with Montréal start-ups for three years now. It’s a young, dynamic and stimulating tech-savvy environment that thrives on creativity. The fist year I just gave an impromptu speech to young women on my experience as an entrepreneur. I loved it and so did they. Now, I sit on one of the committees of the International Startup Festival of Montréal, and I’m a mentor, a jury member and even an investor.
In my private life, my passion with a capital P, is to be outdoors—as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what I do—take a walk, play tennis, go snowshoeing—as long as I’m outdoors, far from material things. I’m a great fan of Mount Royal, by the way. A true gem in the heart of the city.
What do you like most about Greater Montréal?
I think the word “vibe” was coined for Montréal. There’s no better word to describe the city’s atmosphere, energy and incredible creativity that’s all around. Sometimes I wonder why people go on vacation in summer when there’s so much to do here—so many festivals and so many great restaurants. I go out several times a week, even by myself sometimes because I feel safe everywhere I go in the city.
I love Montréal because it’s in sync with my philosophy of life. I like to seek out the fun in everything: at work, in my relationships, in my spare time. Montréal is fun-oriented too. Take business lunches, for example. In other cities, people keep checking the time because they’re in a hurry. Here people take their time and sip a glass of wine. It’s very different. It’s very much like me.
Why is it important for you to be an ambassador for Greater Montréal?
When I went to New York to negotiate a contract 20 years ago, I didn’t dare to say I was from Montréal. I was just starting out and I was afraid that wouldn’t help my case. Fortunately, things have changed: Today, the city’s graphic arts industry has an excellent reputation. But there are still people in New York or Boston who have no idea that Montréal is a world-class arts centre and a breeding ground for start-ups, and don’t even know that we’re just 55 minutes away by plane!
I love this city so much! I want everyone to see how great it is.
What are the three words that best describe Greater Montréal?
Passion, cultural diversity, open-mindedness
How did you come up with the idea for your two businesses?
I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Twenty years ago, I was working for a photo agency. I wanted to start my own business and just then, a French illustrator came to see me to show me his work. He became my first artist. In the beginning, I represented more photographers than illustrators. But that changed over time and, in 2009 when I went digital, my focus shifted to illustration. After a while, however, I realized I missed photography. So I came up with another concept and created Meat Market Photography, a promotion platform for photography professionals.
How long have you been active internationally?
Since Day 1! I’ve always been an exporter. Today, my agency promotes 52 artists from around the world to newspapers and magazines, in the U.S. of course, but also in Brazil, London, and Asia. You could say we went global, I suppose. But there’s still very much of Montréal in my business. We always promote Montréal artists, and I can tell you for sure that their work is greatly appreciated.
What do you hope Greater Montréal will be like in 20 years?
I would like it to achieve world-wide recognition. Like Paris for fashion or Sweden for furniture. Greater Montréal would make a great capital for the arts—graphic arts in particular.
In 20 years, I don’t want anyone in Boston saying they haven’t heard of Montréal.
In 20 years, I hope tourists will go “WOW” as soon as they set foot in the city.
Follow Anna Goodson on Twitter : @AnnaGoodson