I have a couple of questions for illustrators that are agented

  • Okay so I've been wondering when an illustrator gets an agent/rep what happens next ?

    When do jobs really start picking up for you guys ? Is it when your lookbook goes out and then publishers get a sense of your style and if they need you for their books ? I know illustrators aren't busy all the time with work but do you find that your more busy with an agent then when you didn't have one ?

    Do you guys still look for outside illustration gigs even though you have an agent ? And are they more animation or game based then ones for books seeing as how your agent handles those for you ? If so do you end up pricing these gigs higher seeing as how you are now agented ?

    If regular self published authors come to you do you tell them to go straight to your agent and let them handle the business end from there or do you not even bother with personal book projects cause they don't pay as much as a publisher would ?

    Also what kind of contracts do you guys use when working on projects ? Is it one where you keep all the rights to your images and still give the clients the okay to use the images in books and for toys and such ? Sorry if this sounds weird I'm not sure how to state this question.

    I'll look and see if there are any good contract sites I can use for future projects.

    I hope you don't mind me asking these questions, I'm just a little interested in how things start.

  • Lots of good questions!

    My experience is a bit non traditional--I met my agent a few years ago at a comic con, slow played signing with her and her agency while I gathered facts and decided what I wanted and frankly have worked on more self projects vs. trying to go to market with picture books and other samples. I've also had to take some time off personally which amounted to about a year.

    Despite a lack of samples and a well rounded portfolio, she's brought several things to the table. As my schedule frees up and my capacity for finishing my projects opens, she'll have more to market and play with. So in that regard, the ball has been in my court.

    Regarding self published gigs--I've had many suitors but I turn them all down. If I took one on, I would talk with her about it. But the money nor the business plan is never very good so I just say no anyway.

    So to round things up from my experience--the agent can only do so much unless there is a solid plan of attack, ample material in the portfolio and a constant churn and momentum towards new projects.

  • @AnthonyWheeler Ohh ok. So when you say self projects you mean you also write your own stories and illustrate them as well ? And when your're not doing your own projects you can work on a few things for publishers I'm guessing. Okay I think I get it XD

  • @Corlette-Douglas said in I have a couple of questions for illustrators that are agented:

    @AnthonyWheeler Ohh ok. So when you say self projects you mean you also write your own stories and illustrate them as well ? And when your're not doing your own projects you can work on a few things for publishers I'm guessing. Okay I think I get it XD

    Another good question!

    In my example, I self published an art book via kickstarter (The agent didnt want anything from that), various illustration gigs outside of publishing and selling artwork and merchandise privately.

    My person model that I'm working to is a balance of self publishing and developing merchandise AND taking on a couple of publishing projects--At the moment, I'm writing and drawing a Picture book that we can sell (We had an interested Art Director and Editor but things may have cooled after my taking time off) and I'm putting together a portfolio for her to get me some chapter book illustration work (which will likely be an uphill battle and may take quite a while to materialize).

  • Pro

    @Corlette-Douglas Ok so I first signed with Beehive Illustration, and in about 7-8 months only got one small contract (illustrating a few reading cards for an educational publisher, as part of a multi-artist project and got only a few hundred dollars out of it). So I wasn't thrilled! I left and signed with Astound Us, and that went over much nicer. I've been with them about a year and here's a little timeline of what's happened.

    Within the first month they got me a book deal with Igloo Books (which is actually coming out in September!) and it was better paid than the gigs I usually get by myself. The month after that they got me a small Christmas book, it wasn't that well paid but it sounded fun, I had time and I took it to start increasing my standing at the agency more. In the next few months they got me a few quick but surprisingly well paid gigs for educational publishers, where I'd get a few hundred UK pounds each time for a day of work. After that they sent me a few more book requests which were not that well paid so I refused them and told my agent my desire to start filtering out low-paid offers and wait for better ones. This paid off because around March they contacted me again and I got my first 10k book deal 🙂 I didn't receive anything else for several months because I was busy with the book and not listed as available with my agent. I finished the book in July and have since received another small but well-paid educational gig, and another which I refused. Which brings us to now!

    In total, in the last year my agent accounted for about half my work. The other half was recurring clients from my own network, and work on my own Etsy shop. I'm really happy with my agent because it's work I don't have to get myself, which means more time drawing and less time doing networking and portfolio sendings. The amount of time saved is quite amazing, and that's allowed me to do other things like grow my Etsy shop which in turn has made my income more diverse and stable. All around much better situation than last year before I got my agent!

  • I signed with my agent in July this year. There is kind of an “on-boarding” in the first couple of months in which I have sent my full portfolio, added a couple of new pieces, and I’m finishing up a spread for my dummy. I’ve been added to the agency website and after the last spread is finished, my portfolio will be sent out to clients.
    It was a nice period in which I got to communicate with my agent and got to know how things work. Next I will have to wait and see when and if I start to receive project proposals.

    Before I signed with my agent, I was earning my income from my own projects: my webshops, patreon, Kickstarter, private commissions.

    There can be some time between signing with an agent and getting project proposals. For some it happens very fast, but I’ve also heard people wait for 1-2 years even before it started to grow. So I would take into account to have income streams as an artist besides those agented projects.

    Hope this helps! I will post an update when I’m further along in the process, if that is useful to anyone 🙂

  • @Corlette-Douglas I signed with an agent in the spring this year. I had a conversation with my agent regarding my portfolio. My impression was that I was not ready to start working in Picture books (that is what I want to do), but we will work together towards that. But to my surpise, I started getting project requests about 1 months after signing the contract, some trade books, and lots of educational books as well. I took 2 trade book projects and currently working on both of them.

    I chated with an art director about my agency experience. He told me that I got really lucky - It is somewhat common to start getting works after 6 months of signing with an agent (of course, every agency, every artist is different). He also told me, it is very common for an illustrator to experience a lot of work in one moment, and no work at all for another couple of months, or half a year, or longer. I found that is a really interesting note for me regarding planning my time/finance long term. I will devote my time to build a side income stream (art prints, or something else) when I am in between projects.

    I go through my agent with projects that came directly to me. I got a book deal from a publisher contacted me directly. I figured the book is interesting, the timeline works. So I included my agent in the communication. It is really nice to have someone handling schedule/advance payment negociation for me. It makes my agent very happy as well :-).

  • SVS OG

    @Corlette-Douglas Hi! So for me, I signed with my agent around this time last year. However, it took me around January/February to actually land a project. I got 2 educational book projects and both ended around April/May. One of the project was a nightmare and may actually have scared me from doing educational books for good. 😂 They were so nit-picky and demanding for such a low paying gig.

    In my agency, we artists get to keep the clients we found and worked with before we signed with the agency. I'm currently working with a couple of old clients without my agent. Sometimes, a few small gigs come my way and I refer them to my agent but if my agent sees that the gigs are low paying ( around 1k or less), she allows me to handle it myself regardless if it came from an old client or not. My agent told me she didn't feel right taking commission from a small project which is totally fine by me. 😁

    Inquiries have certainly dried up since COVID hit. I only received 1 inquiry from a publisher since the pandemic started. I'm still managing. I'm lucky I have my old clients and that I live in the Philippines where everything is really affordable. I think I can hold out for about a year but I certainly hope things will get back to normal. 😰

  • @Corlette-Douglas Hi Corlette. I also signed with my agency in June this year. I got my first project from the agency a month after.
    During the first month, my agent shared helpful info like moodboards and trending topics to give the artists some inspiration/direction to create new work which they could then share with their clients.

    There may also be times when the agency gets a requirement from a client which they then forward to multiple illustrators who they think will be a good fit. It is essentially an audition for the part. I've only done one such event and it was unpaid. The client then chooses who's work they like best and they get the job. But all is not lost, since the audition piece I created will still be circulated amongst other clients and can also be used in your portfolio. (The project I'm working on currently, the publisher actually referred to this particular audition piece for colors and style).

    The amount of work you get from the agency can vary for every artist. In the few months that I have been a part, I've received 4 project offers (all are starting pay) out of which I've accepted 2.
    I've been lucky to get 3 other book offers on my own (2 of them being trade PBs from medium-big publishers. One of the PB I received was via emailing my portfolio directly to the publisher so emails really work!) which the agency is handling for me. This will help me get leverage in demanding higher paying gigs from my agency even though I'm a new member once my current work is over.

    Many initial projects received from an agent will be low pay, short timeline and a lot of work so it's a lot of hustling. You may or may not be able to live off the earnings fully depending on your living expenses. For me, the dollar/euro/pound conversion rate to rupee works to my advantage.

    I did receive a few offers from self publishers after I got an agent, but none of them worked out for various reasons (budget/usage/rights etc.) But I was open to working with self publishers before I got busy. I usually would try and get an idea of the project from them to see if I'm even interested. If it looked appealing, I would forward it to my agent to try and negotiate the terms.

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