MHS Artists

Mary Howard

  • A set and production designer with more than 30 years experience working in print and commercial photography, Mary Howard has remained a dominant force in a field in which she is not only internationally acclaimed, but has helped to define.

    Born and raised in New Orleans, she trained first as a painter and performance artist—receiving a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art before going on to earn an MFA from The Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. With a solid background in art history and visual culture (and a particular passion for the Fluxus movement), Mary Howard’s work is renowned for its richly layered historical references and symbolism—reflecting a fluency in both period and contemporary art and design. Respected throughout the industry for her expansive research, Mary Howard is possessed of the rare talent for mining the past for objects, imagery, attitudes and allusions which are at once steeped in the enchanting allure of the past, but nevertheless modern.

    A hands-on practitioner with a painter’s eye for detail, she began her career in New York building floats for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, and by the early 1990s was working on sets for Richard Avedon. In the years following, Mary Howard has worked for the world’s most celebrated photographers, including Steven Meisel, Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Klein, Mario Testino, and Bruce Weber to name but a few. Consequently, her work for leading editors and creative directors such as Grace Coddington, Tonne Goodman and Phyllis Posnick at Vogue, along with celebrities such as Madonna, Lady Gaga, and the Rolling Stones—not to mention Queen Elizabeth, President Obama and The First Lady—has resulted in some of the most talked about, hard-hitting images of the modern era.

    Recognized across the art and design industries for her career achievements and get-it-done work ethic, Mary remains most grateful for her success in the formation and expansion of the Mary Howard Studio artist’s collective—expanding and refining her standard of excellence and advancing her tradition of professional innovation alongside the next generation of world-class visual innovators at Mary Howard Studios worldwide.

    From editorial to advertising, Mary Howard Studio sets the benchmark for excellence and innovation in production design and art direction for commercial photography.