Owing to current deadlines, I regret that I am unable to answer your questions until further notice ~ Thank you
Q - Can you tell me a bit about agents?
A - Professional agents work on behalf of illustrators and their work. Their job is to make sales calls to existing and new clients, find new work for the artist, negotiate fees and contracts, and invoice for and collect money. The agent should promote the illustrators they represent, help develop their portfolios, and provide constructive feedback about their skills and career. Agents for illustrators in the UK come in two different varieties:
1 - Illustration agents, who deal across the board with advertising/ editorial/design as well as book publishing. These can be found most easily on the internet – try Googling ‘Illustrator’s agents’- as they all have websites to showcase the work of the people they represent. It’s also possible to get lists of agencies from organisations like the Association of Illustrators, although you’d probably have to be a member. Membership is on an annual fee basis – details in section 14 of this page. Illustration agencies usually take upwards of 25% commission, which is a lot of your money, especially if you are mainly working in children’s publishing, where the money is generally lower than for advertising jobs.
2 – Literary agents specialise in books, but some also represent illustrators in the children’s publishing market. As I mentioned earlier, you can find a list of those that do in the Children’s Writers & Artist’s Yearbook, and you will also be able to see there what their commission is. Generally, it is between 10% and 15% for work carried out in this country.
Q – Is it advisable to try to find an agent (especially if you don’t know that much about the business of publishing), or is it best to promote yourself? Can agents show your work to editors who would be difficult to contact otherwise?
A - It can be really good to have an agent, although it might not be that easy – they are very choosy and some have scaled down the number of artists they represent with the recession. It depends what you want an agent for: if you read on, I’ll try to elaborate.
Q - I was recently reading one of the FAQs on your website – specifically one about illustration agents, and where they fit into the industry. I found the FAQ really interesting, and have a question i’d like to ask:
In the article, you mentioned previously having worked with an agent – I am a recent Graphic Design graduate, and since leaving university two years ago, have been battling as a freelance illustrator (not represented by any agents). My business has had mixed success – while the clients I have had seem impressed and return to me for more work – the jobs are of a very low profile, are few and far between, and don’t really pay enough to support me. This is partly down to my lack of experience/ enthusiasm when it comes to negotiation and “The hard sell”.
Assuming that I were able to convince an agent to represent me (which I understand is no easy task in itself), generally speaking – would I be able to make enough money to support myself?
This is an incredibly broad question, and I know it sounds quite personal – but any information I can get about whether or not an agent would be a worth while venture would be infinitely helpful.
Thanks for any advice you can give
A - I sympathise with the battle you’ve been having to get decent, well paid illustration work. I had a look at your link and really liked your illustrations. In answer to your question, I think it would certainly be worth approaching some illustration agents to see what they say when they view your portfolio. When I was looking around for agents, I got a list of illustration agencies from the Association of Illustrators (I was a member then) and approached a few, having seen their websites, I then saw some of them in London and found out about how they operated. I should add that that was a while ago now, so things might not work in the same way today. However, it was worthwhile even though I plumped for literary agencies in the end, as they worked within the publishing industry and were therefore more appropriate for my work – and took a smaller percentage in commission! I would have thought that your illustrations would have a wider application though – books, advertising and design, as well as animation potentially, so illustration agencies may be more suitable for you.
In terms of what you could expect from them if you were taken on (what they do for their commission) – they can offer you wider visibility within the industry, I believe that advertising/ design clients are more likely to consider an illustrator’s work if it is being introduced by an agent, they will also generally be able to negotiate better contracts – terms and money as well as hopefully take the hassle out of jobs if difficulties arise. There are no guarantees of regular work though – agents are chasing work like the rest of us. I have an illustrator friend who was represented by a top London illustration agency and got a lot of lovely, well paid jobs, but also had long periods with nothing coming through, she began to explore other markets as a result, although the agency work picked up again eventually. I hope that’s helpful, it can be very difficult to get established in doing the kind of illustration work you find satisfying, as well as making a living. I think that you would gain something from approaching some agents. Good luck!
Some of the pluses of having an agent: They have an entrée to the clients you want to see your work, which can be especially useful if your work is relatively unknown.They have contractual expertise, which means that they can decipher and negotiate the terms of your contracts and will probably get you a better deal than you could on your own in terms of contractual rights.They also are adept at negotiating to get the highest fee or advance for the work you are being commissioned to do.Having an agent bringing in work gives you more time to do the illustrating.
Agents are able to get a better deal because they are not the artist, they have a different skill, they are less personal, and more professional about pushing it.
Some of the minuses of having an agent: I no longer use an agent in this country. When I did, it was usually a literary agent, so most of what I am putting here relates to that experience. I no longer use an agent for the following reasons:
I was finding that it was mainly me bringing in work through my own contacts and efforts – particularly more recently, since I have become more established.
I enjoy being proactive and contacting publishers and having a direct relationship with them.
I probably work harder representing myself than an agent would. They represent many other artists, so the time they put into my career is limited.
I also enjoy negotiating and am more confident about doing this now than earlier in my career. It can be stimulating too.
Contracts are complex documents and I find I need help with them, but as a member of the Society of Authors you can send your contract to them for excellent advice – see other sources of advice for illustrators.
My work has been around for a while now in the UK. Also, the publishing world here is quite small and mostly in London, so awareness of your work can spread fairly quickly.
However, I am with a large agency in the US, as it’s such a different market. Unlike in the UK, the publishers there are far flung and the task of getting my work seen by them, or knowing who is who, is just too big a challenge.
Q - Do some publishers avoid agents?
A - There probably are publishers who would rather deal directly with illustrators – for the best and the worst reasons. It can be better creatively for the publisher to deal directly with an illustrator. Publishers also know that an agent will probably drive a harder bargain, so unscrupulous publishers might want to scoop up fresh inexperienced talent cheaply!
For more on this, the ‘Children’s Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook’ outlines many of the pros and cons of having an agent – see other sources of advice for illustrators.
Q - I’m pleased that I found your site, it’s full of great information on illustrating, as well as your great illustration portfolio. I have a couple of questions, please forgive me if they have already been asked elsewhere on your FAQ’s. I’ve only just started building an illustration portfolio, coming from a design background, and having struggled for a few months to find my style. I have started to create images I’m pleased with, based on themes that interest me, but I’ve quickly noticed that I’m not actually illustrating anything. I’m searching for ways of producing self initiated illustration, based on an idea, or story, but I’m feeling blocked and wondering if in fact I lack any imagination! Do you have any advice for starting illustrators on building a portfolio? My second quick question regards agents. I wonder if you know whether an illustrator’s agent would ever consider representing someone who does not have a client list, or who lacks experience?
A - Thanks for looking at my FAQs pages, I’m glad you found them interesting. The question you pose is a wide one and one that only you can really answer. If it helps though, looking at the illustrations on your website, they have a very graphic feel which isn’t surprising as that’s your background. They are beautifully executed designs – but were they were done in response to a text I wonder, or were they mostly based on themes? My advice would be to find some fiction to illustrate, so that you can develop some images that are born out of the text – take particular passages of text and see what comes out – you’ve got to root around sometimes before you contact your own creativity. Maybe try out some rough ideas for an adult book jacket or for a children’s story (whatever you enjoy), then turn the results into colour images – that might help unblock you. It may be though that you want to illustrate for editorial and advertising, if that’s the case why don’t you set yourself some editorial, advertising or packaging assignments – start with a plausible brief that a client might give you and take it from there. As for the agent question, my advice would be to resolve the issues above first and continue building your folio until you know what kind of agent you want and which market you want them to access for you. I would say that most agents, if they are any good, would want some track record these days.
Q - I am sorry this is a non-work related email out of the blue, one of many I am sure you have received over time! I’ve spent a while reading through all your super helpful FAQ – it has been a treasure trove of information! and I wanted to thank you so much for sharing all your experience and advice. I’ve been in book publishing for many years, as a designer (following a graphic design degree), and it’s been great; I’ve learnt loads, I get to design book covers (sometimes lol), I get to commission and work with loads of awesome artists, and it’s given me an insight to how a book publishing operates. And very occasionally (when they are strapped for cash and need an in-house freebie, lol) I get to illustrate bits and pieces (mainly childrens and teen fiction) now and then, which I love. I don’t get any extra, and I don’t get a credit, but it’s the opportunities that have been most valuable, and it has make me realise, over time that this is what I love doing and would like to do more of. Right now, aside from the odd job at work, I draw, for fun in my own time. So the time has come to seriously consider an illustration career, and hope that I am not too late to start :/ There is also that problem of not knowing if my art is commercially viable. I know it most likely isn’t right now, and that’s fine, but its knowing in which direction to take it so it would be, which market to aim for. Right now I am thinking Children’s / Teen books, but only because that’s where my limited experience lies. I have purchased a copy of the Childrens Writers and Illustrators Handbook (hoorah!) and am seriously considering joining the AOI. If I make a leap I want to be armed with as much info as possible!
Your advice on agents was particularly helpful. As someone who usually commissions artists, I get a little insight to how agents deal with clients. On one hand I feel that having an agent must be a plus, in the beginning, especially if you’re not that great at the hard sell or marketing yourself, or you don’t have many (if any!) contacts in the publishing /creative world. On the other, I prefer working with those artists who don’t have an agent, it’s more personal that way, and better for both I think when there isn’t a go between. By the way, you mentioned that you no longer have a UK agent, but you do have a US one – is there any advantage to having a foreign representative? Especially when you are starting out, say? Or would you advise artists to stick to agents in their own country?
Apologies for my rambling, this really was meant to be a thank you, followed by a couple of other questions!
Your website is so informative and inspiring,and I wanted to thank you so much for sharing all your experience and advice.
A - Thank you for your e-mail. It’s always nice to hear from people in response to my website, I’m delighted that you have found it interesting and I’ve added your details to my updates list. As you enjoy drawing and illustrating so much, it sounds like a good plan to do more and to get some specific money and credit for it – so very good luck with your preparations! I’m sure you will be at an advantage having so much experience from the other side of the fence. I get the impression that you know exactly what to do in order to explore which way you want to go with it. On the question of agents – generally, I think being represented is becoming more and more essential when you are starting out or trying to break into a new market, unfortunately. I have been in contact with a couple of children’s publishers recently who simply won’t consider using anyone without one. I think that’s particularly the case with the larger publishing houses and maybe like you, some of the smaller, independent publishers like dealing direct with authors and illustrators. In answer to your specific question about my agents – I represent myself entirely now, I enjoy the contact with publishers and I get to keep all the money! I increasingly get US publishers approaching me direct via the website, having seen my work in publications. Incidentally, many of the UK agents also work internationally and they usually charge a higher commission for that than for their UK work.
Q - I have not long finished a University course in Illustration and am now looking to get my work noticed. I am finding it all a bit daunting – sending work off to publishers and considering an agent etc. However your FAQ page has been really helpful to me and I am now looking for an agent to represent me as I think it’s the best way to start off my career. The Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook has also been really helpful listing down quite a lot of agencies to consider.
Luckily, I have very recently got a contract offer off an agency, but how do I find out whether they are good or not? (This agency is listed down in the Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook 2013). Also can an illustrator have more than one agent?
A - I’m glad my FAQs have been helpful. Great that you have got an agent interested in your work. It’s a difficult one to answer easily and I have been caught out before now by agents who do very little for their money, partly because of that I represent myself these days. However, if you are breaking into the market, agents can be very useful indeed and I know some illustrators who have very good ongoing relationships with their agents. It’s encouraging to know that this agency is listed in the Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook. I have a couple of suggestions that you might find helpful:
Ask around, if you are in a network of illustrators who might be able to give you feedback on this – and ask them about other agencies too. Then you’ll be more able to make some comparisons about the sort of service you can reasonably expect, never forget that a service is what they are offering you! Maybe some of your ex tutors can be helpful, if they are or have been professional illustrators.
I would advise you to make a list of questions to put to the agency you are considering for representation (and for any agency come to that) , if you haven’t done already. This would help you clarify the questions that are important to you at this stage of your career and will also give you some sort of benchmark by which to profile the different agencies you hear about. This all means that you are effectively interviewing them as a professional and puts you a bit more in control of the situation.
To answer your last question – in my experience it is not usual for illustrators to have more than one agent in the same geographical territory – ie within the UK. I have had an agent in both the UK and US at the same time and all parties were aware of this and happy with this situation. It’s also not usual to be represented within the same part of the market by more than one agent within that territory ie children’s books, editorial etc. However it is possible to be represented for say, children’s publishing and then greetings cards by different agents, as they are rather different markets. The thing is to find out the terms of their contract so that you know what’s possible.
Q - Let me start by saying I love your work! I think it’s really great to see organic artists (hand drawn preference over digital!) in this current day and age.
I’m a young illustrator just starting out and my dream job would be illustrating a children’s book- I’m currently working on one at the manuscript stage. I have worked on a number of publications as well.
My situation is basically that no matter how many agents I contact or how many agencies I apply to, I’m not ‘right’ for them and I’m starting to lose faith! Did you struggle when you were first starting out? Any tips how to get your foot in the door? I’m starting to think I’m actually rubbish!
Any feedback would really be greatly appreciated, I’ve also linked my site and would love if you could take a look!
A - Thanks for writing to me and thanks for your words about my work. If it’s any consolation, yes, starting out was also very difficult for me and took a long time and I left college in 1978 – long time ago now…. GOD, so long! I think my work evolved during that time though, together with my capacity to respond to a brief and get to understand a bit more about the industry I’m in. It’s a lifetime commitment that I didn’t realise I’d made until comparatively recently, thinking I might try something else from being a full time singer to trying garden design – all of which I love doing, but now form part of my life in relation to my central job as an illustrator. Part of being an illustrator is about sticking with it and also being objective, being able to take feedback and develop your work – style, technique, creativity.
Thank you for sending me you web link, it’s interesting to see what you do. My response, for what it’s worth, is that you have quite a variety of work for different markets on your pages, but you don’t make it clear which work is for which market. A lot of it very dark and adult in subject, I also have dark tastes in illustration, but I have had difficult moments with finding any sort of home for those kinds of images and have had to learn from the response I got from squeamish editors – who I resented hugely at the time!! Children’s publishers are SUPER CAUTIOUS, especially in this financial climate, as I’m sure you are aware. They are mostly not prepared to take any risk and are probably unable to financially. The artists you mention liking are again fairly adult in style and unless you are already an established name who can guarantee sales, it would be difficult to do something straight off that needed so much creative freedom. I’m not saying don’t go for it – do hold onto that as your ultimate ambition, but it’s important to learn your craft and the ropes by evolving your art in the terms of the commercial world as well to establish yourself. If you want to ‘get your foot in the door’ I’d advise you to analyse and target the markets you want to attract, even if that means doing some new samples to appeal to those markets, then publishers will know that you would be able to carry out a brief in a way that they would want.
Are you a member of The Association of Illustrators? They are a really good organisation to belong to in London, especially for people starting out as they give good advice and offer a portfolio review service – you’d probably have to pay for it on top of membership, but it might be worth getting their professional advice.
Q - I found your wonderful Illustration FAQs and read through the whole thing at once. What a bliss. It is very comforting to know that there are information like that so accessible. Thank you very much.
Although the FAQs are very elaborate, I failed to find the answer to a specific question I have in mind at the moment. I have been sending my web site of illustrations around to all the London based agencies I could find, and after many rejections I finally received an offer to join one. What puzzled me a bit was that they asked for 250 £ admission fee for the first 12 months of representation. Is this normal procedure by all the agencies?
A - In answer to your question – great that you have found an agency in London. In my experience I have never been charged upfront fees by an agency, but then I have been representing myself for 6 years now in the UK, so maybe agents are behaving differently these days. If it was me, I would want to know why they want money upfront, sounds a bit worrying! The agents I have had here have been literary agents and they have always just deducted their standard commission for each job they have procured for me from the payment when it’s come in from a client, usually 15%, rather than upwards of the 25% illustration agents take (obviously which kind of agent you use depends on which market your work is suited to). For their commission, the agent will usually have procured the work, negotiated the fee, drawn up the contract, dealt with any problems that have arisen along the way. With my old US agent – an illustration agency – they also charge a percentage of the advertising costs, for specific pieces of publicity such as annual web fee, advertising my work in publications and promotions etc, but again there wasn’t an upfront fee at the outset with them either.
I have taken a quick look at your website, it looks good, probably best suited to an illustration agency I would say, rather than the book market. If I have a suggestion to make, I think it’s difficult having the two styles of work together, both character and academic, as they dilute each other, because the markets for the two strands are so different. To me, your character designs look as though they would lend themselves well to animation – maybe you could focus on that side and put you characters in more of a narrative context to show their personalities.
Q - I was just wondering if you knew the answer to a question I could do with clarifying please? Can an agent charge me to join their site (whether it be a joining or admin fee) and if so how much should it be? Once I’ve paid this they will still take commission from any job I do through them, is this ok too? I don’t mind paying a fee to join but will obviously need to review after the year to see if it paid off.
A - The agents I have used have always taken a percentage commission for each job they have procured for me. The percentage of their commission has been clear at the outset of our working relationship and has always been deducted from the fee for each job as it has been paid by the client. For this commission they will have procured the work, negotiated the fee, drawn up the contract, dealt with any problems that have arisen along the way. With my old US agent, they also charged a percentage of the advertising costs, for specific pieces of advertising:- annual web fee, advertising my work in publications and promotions etc.
I have never been charged upfront fees by an agency, I have also never been represented by an agent who just puts me up on their website, so if that’s the case I can’t advise – personally I expect an agent to do more than that for me in order to get me work. Every contract with an agent will be different, there really isn’t an industry standard, you will need to find out what their terms are and try to negotiate if you aren’t happy – before agreeing to it or signing anything – and if they won’t negotiate, then find another agent.
Q - Thanks for your feedback from yesterday, it was really helpful and makes it clear what I need to ask / look out for.
I have another question if you’ve time too
What are your thoughts on paying to be on a directory list? and what sort of price would you pay if you did go on one? (These allow you to showcase your work with your own details attached so no commission is taken on any job) Are these better than an agent?
A - I’m glad it was helpful. I can’t really answer your question about the showcase sites, as I said I’ve never tried to look for work it that way. It might bring some work in, but the only way to find out is to try it for a while and see what happens. In terms of cost, again I can’t advise – but you’ll need to weigh that up when you deduct the cost of being on the site from the money you earn from the jobs that come in and decide whether it was worth while or not. Try and talk to someone who has done it.
I do think though that having an agent representing you is going to be more effective as they are actively targeting clients with their illustrators work. Have you checked out The Association of Illustrators? If you joined they might be able to help you with your questions better than I can – I believe they also have an online showcase of members work – see what they charge for that.
Q - I’m looking for advise really. I have been sending my book idea to literary agents with no luck. Two reasons seem to be popping up. First, is that it is intended to be a charity book. The royalties will go to animal concerns. The second is that it’s an art book, and many literary agents don’t deal with art books. So what i am seeking is information regarding how I can get this book represented. It contains 111 artists from around the world, in the illustration and pop surrealism fields, who all have pets, and draw animals in their art.
A - I’ve been watching the link you sent me – thanks, really interesting idea. I’m not sure how much I can help, although am wondering whether you might be best off approaching an animal related charity. I have just emailed a friend who works in the 3rd sector to see what he thinks, I’ll let you know when I hear back from him. Any publisher or agent would I imagine want to know how they would make their money, so would it be business as usual from their point of view in terms of the money they would make from the book?
I was involved with a recently published book called GOOD OLD DRAWING G.O.D. published by Haus Publishing http://www.hauspublishing.com/product/408. As a book it looks rather like what you are thinking of maybe as it contains many images by different artists, for free (I can vouch for that). It’s a beautiful book and includes some big names, the proceeds didn’t go to charities as far as I am aware, but maybe if a charity were to get involved…..
Don’t know how useful that is, it’s not the usual kind of question I get asked. No doubt you have already trawled through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2013 to see if there are any publishers who deal specifically with charity related publications.
If my friend comes back with any suggestions, I’ll be sure to pass them on.
Q - To answer your questions and statements. I have approached 6 charities, but they do not aid in the publication of the book. It would be cool to hear from your friend. Any advise would be invaluable. The reason I am looking for an agent, is I tend to find a lot of publishers don’t except unsolicited manuscripts, so I was assuming the agent was the way to go.
If you know any different, again any advise would help.
I don’t have a copy of the handbook. Not really a easy source in Greece (where I live)
I will continue to explore.
I’m committed to get it printed and even have a line-up started for a second and a photography one.
A - I heard back from my friend who has been working across the charity sector for many years, so is a real expert. Your question is really more of a business question than an illustration one, so in some ways you probably know more about this already then me. Anyway, for what it’s worth he and I put our heads together and here’s what we thought:
His advice is to do what I suggested and approach charities:
- You have already done some of that, but have you identified which animals you want the proceeds to go to yet? That would narrow it down and if they saw that it was a way to help them make some money, they may be interested – if you make a sound economic case for them, plus you have ideas for subsequent books. My additional suggestion would be to get some big art names on your side if possible.
- Andy thinks middle sized charities would be best, as they have the capacity to think how your project could get funded, whereas larger charities probably wouldn’t be bothered about a smaller project like this.
- To find out about charities, look at the website of The Charity Commission, and refine your search by looking for animals – again to narrow it down.
- If it’s possible to get hold of the book I mentioned that would be good – you can then explore from where you are via the internet. It is available via Amazon. co.uk, so maybe you can order it if they ship to Greece – I have no idea about that. However, if they don’t ship, maybe you have someone in the UK who can order it and send it to you – ?
- Yes, many publishers don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, but many do – the book should give you access to that information, so save you wasting time writing to those who don’t.
Q - your site makes very interesting reading and I love your illustrations. I have not seen much of Sedna on the internet and have done a version of her myself. Your art is fantastic. I wondered if you could just tell me whether when you have an agent or connected with a publisher do any of them expect exclusivity?
A - I decided to quit my agent a few months ago, they are in the US , but I have also represented myself here in the UK for quite a number of years. In my experience agents are generally clear that they want exclusivity. They would be unlikely to want to share you with another agent in the same industry or geographical territory. However I have heard of people working for say – greeting cards via one agent and children’s books through another, but that’s because they are slightly different industries. They should be able to let you know what their terms are if you enquire.
Publishers on the other hand shouldn’t demand exclusivity and I have never been expected to just be employed by one. I am freelance, so a free agent in that respect and publishers don’t employ me as a full time illustrator. Bear in mind though that publishers will usually expect an illustrator not to work on a similar (and therefore commercially competitive) book, or product which might undermine their sales.
Q - Thanks for taking time to reply to my query. That is very helpful. Do you mind me asking was there any advantage to a US agent? Or is it just the same as dealing with one in the UK. One thing I simply cannot figure out is where to source companies who need artist designs therefore avoiding to have an agent.
A - I joined the US agency when my (then) UK agent went to the US find an agent who could represent her illustrators over there – so there was an arrangement between the agencies subsequently. Some UK agents deal with the US market to a greater or lesser extent, but of course US agents are experts about the US market – so they have a natural advantage. Are you in the UK?
It is hard to track down design companies, publishers you can find listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Year Book. I know the Association of Illustrators used to have directories for different markets – available for purchase by their members. Other than that, I think you just have to hunt around and do the research – it is time consuming. Also, it is all an ever changing picture.
Q - I’m pleased that I found your website, it’s full of useful information , and I like your illustrations very much!
I have been working as a children’s illustrator in China for nearly six years. I would like to expand abroad, but I don’t know much about the market in UK or US. So I want to find an agent to represent me.
My question is do the agents in UK or US want to represent an illustrator who lives abroad? And what they charge for that if they want to?
Looking forward to your reply.
A - I would have thought that if an agent liked your work enough, then the country you lived in wouldn’t be an issue, but you’d have to ask them about it. I can’t tell you what their commission is, again you would need to ask the agency for this information. There’s no harm in trying to make contact with some US and UK agents and taking it from there!
Q - I saw your FAQ page online, it was very helpful! I was hoping you could answer a specific question I have about agents. I was recently contacted by one, and she said that any work I get by myself would have to go through her, ie. she gets a commission on work she doesn’t procure along with work she does. Is this standard practice?
A - What the agent has told you is fairly normal practice, although my last agent did negotiate a lower percentage for a couple of books where the client came to me direct and the agent did the contract work etc. This was after a few years of being with them though.
I would say that it also depends on the geographical territory and the markets they are representing your work within. For instance – my US agent didn’t represent me for work outside the US, so I represented myself in the UK and that was nothing to do with them. They also wouldn’t necessarily have represented me for the greeting card market, as they mainly covered children’s publishing. I would therefore say that if they are putting time and money into promoting your work within certain markets and territories, then they would expect to take a commission – as they have made an investment. The best thing is to ask if you can see their terms and conditions so that you can clarify what they cover, to see if you think it’s reasonable. I have found agents willing to email a sample contract over before I have signed up with them.
Q - I’ve been reading your site and found your FAQ’s on agents most helpful.
I have a question though that doesn’t seem to be addressed -
If I am being represented by an agency, am I still able to find and secure my own illustration work? Or must I do everything through the agency. I ask this because I am wondering, what if the agency does not find enough work for me to fully support myself? Can I still find my own work on the side?
A - Thanks for your email and I’m glad you have been finding the FAQs page on agents useful.
It’s a good question and very similar to the previous one – it is normal for an agent to want all the work to go through them for the territories and markets they are representing your work in. Part of the reason is that it can get complicated if both parties are approaching the same clients with an illustrator’s work, as you can imagine. I would suggest in the first instance that you ask the agency who you may work with for a sample contract so you can read their terms and conditions. Also ask them how much work they get on average for their illustrators – just a general guideline. You’ll then have to make a judgement on whether you would be happy with what they seem to offer. Currently I represent myself for the children’s publishing market in all territories, which I am enjoying. I had felt constrained when I was represented for the reason you outline in your question and I really enjoy marketing my own work, but it’s a lot of work and it doesn’t suit everybody.