Of course, this relationship between artists and businessmen was not without its tensions. Artists and the institutions which embraced them had a certain authority in Europe that insured the acceptance of their aesthetic ideas in some form by even the popular culture. Thus, the sometimes abstract and shocking lines of modernist poster art was more common and undiluted in Europe. American business owners, however, demanded that designs be more than simply beautiful; they must sell the product. And in America, these two things seemed more often at odds than in Europe. The testament of the designer to the beauty or originality of a design was not a enough to win the campaign.

Mehemed Fehmy Agha, a Ukranian national who studied in Kiev and Paris, was one of the first to challenge American business to change their notion of the role art would play in their quest for profits. Agha was stern and professional, and he ran his art departments with discipline. He proved himself with Vogue magazine in Berlin, pioneering the use of sans serif typefaces, the duotone, full color photographs, and page bleeds. He published the photographs of Steichen and Weston, and introduced his readers to the work of Matisse and Picasso long before anyone in America had heard of them. Soon he was given the art directorship of House & Garden and Vanity Fair in America. Under Agha, Vanity Fair had the first full color photograph on its cover in 1932 (Remington, 87).

However, Agha's greatest contributions were less tangible. His technical mastery and taste were never doubted, but it was his attitude that made him such a revolutionary figure. He was able to maintain the rigor and pragmatism demanded by business while at the same time earning the respect of the art world. Before Agha, no one knew that this was possible. He was a figure of unrelenting artistic and professional integrity. Agha wrote the recipe for the role of the art director, and defined in the minds of bean counters and aesthetes alike how they might come to have a fruitful relationship. Of course, he paid for it psychologically. His letters are full of self-doubt, and part of him never forgave himself for forgoing a career in photography to work in America (Remington, 89). Agha's conscience was the crucible in which the relationship between art and business was forged.