Choosing to be represented by an artist rep is both a big decision and commitment. So making that leap of faith into the arms of an agency or rep can be a bit daunting. This is your livelihood we are talking about. You want to make sure you are putting your trust (and money) into trustworthy and capable hands. Having some hesitation about the artist/agent relationship is legitimate and good to be aware of. There are arguments on both sides about whether or not getting an artist rep is the right way to go, but ultimately it depends on you.
Let’s see if a signing with a rep is something that might benefit you. If you read this list and find yourself nodding your head and saying “this is me” to a few of the scenarios, then you might want to look into art representation:
- “I have a hard time knowing what my talent is worth. Pricing is hard and nerve-racking.”
- “Doing all the paperwork for each project with a client is exhausting and takes up time that I would rather be using to work.”
- “It would be really neat to land projects for some big clients. I don’t get that many big names on my own. “
- “Promoting my work and finding new clients has been slow. I could really use more work.”
- “Dealing with clients and trying to get them pay me is not something I am comfortable with.”
How’d you do? Is your mind still not made up yet? If not, let’s get into the nitty gritty of art representation.
Having someone represent your work can provide a big boost to your business. It can help you land bigger clients. Many companies and advertising agencies will contact illustration agencies instead of the individual artist because they trust the reputable name of the company. This is a good thing to take advantage of if you are just starting out.
Some Roles of an Artist Rep:
- Providing artist with new commissions.
- Building strong relationships with clients and art buyers.
- Promoting your work in your behalf. They can do this by sending out promotional items, booklets, postcards, emails, events, social media, portfolio site, etc.
- Representing you in specific countries. They can represent you worldwide, or you can work out a deal to have them only represent you in certain countries.
- Knowing the industry standards for pricing. You want to get you paid what you deserve.
- Providing clients with contracts and agreements for usage fees and licensing.
- Invoicing the client and making sure you get paid. Once they get paid, you get paid.
- Entering your work into awards competitions or submit your work into publications.
Choosing the Right Rep:
Do your homework. Find out which rep or agency fits your needs best. Each rep is so drastically different, finding the one that best suits your needs can be tricky. Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for that perfect rep:
- Is your style unique from the rest artists they represent? You want your work to stand out so you don’t have to compete with fellow artists in your agency for jobs.
- How many other artists are represented by the rep? Do you want a rep who represents hundreds of artists, or 20?
- How does their client list look? Do they have the type of clients you want to work for?
- Will they represent you worldwide, or in a specific country? If for example, they are based in the US, you may not want to have them represent you in the UK unless you know they have connections out there. No sense in paying for another feature if it doesn’t work. If they only represent you in one country, and you want a different rep for say, the UK, then make sure the contract allows you to work with with another rep.
- What is their cut of each commission? Typically reps take between 20% to 35% of each commission. Understand that most reps require ALL the illustration jobs you do go through them. That includes any work you find yourself.
- Are there marketing fees? Some reps charge the artist for printing marketing materials. Sometimes it is a yearly fee and other times it is situational. Sometimes these fees are mandatory, and other times they are suggested. These are important details to know.
- Are they good people? Remember, they work for you. Make sure they represent you well, and make sure you get along with them. In order for the business relationship to work, there needs to be transparency on both ends.
Tips For Reaching out to Reps:
- Have a website, or professional blog to point them to.
- It helps to have some commercial experience. They like to see how you have managed to work your illustrative style into the commercial realm.
- Submit work that the rep’s clients would be interested in.
- Show them work that is different than the other artists they represent. Reps often like to get a variety of artists so that they have more to offer their clients.
- Be upfront about your concerns. And don’t hesitate to negotiate terms!
Illustration agents aren’t for everyone. Some artists enjoy the business side, dealing with clients, and all that that entails. And maybe you are amazing at self-promotion, and have no problem finding new work. If that is the case, then you probably don’t want to have a rep.
Just like every artist is different, so is every artist rep. Do your homework and shop around for the rep that fits you best. If you are blessed with multiple options to choose from, remember you can negotiate terms. It is as much an interview of them, than they of you. Make them sell you.
Best of luck on your very personal quest of finding out if an artist rep is right for you!