Negotiating an Illustration Agent Contract
Hi everyone! So I've found a lot of information about how to find an agent and what to look for and things like that. But I was wondering if there were any resources on what to look for in a contract with an illustration agent?
I'm wondering specifically if there is anything I should try to negotiate for or to look out for when negotiating with a reputable/well known agency.
@carlianne Depending on where you are in your career it could be important to list previous clients for whom you wouldn't split the illustration fee. (No sense paying the agent for a relationship you already established on your own)
I'd also be sure I understood what might happen if/when the illustrator/agent partnership ended.
xin li last edited by
I left my first agent and signed with a new agent earlier this year. In both contract signing process, I try to negotiate, but not really successfully, hehe. I think it is important to understand all the terms stated in the contract, and ask yourself (and/or talk to your partner, artist friends) if you are fine with it. In both process, my agent explained in detail what each term was about. With the first contract, I also had AOI legal consultant to read through the contract - since my first agent is in the UK, and AOI offer their members free legal consultation service.
@davidhohn thank you! I do have a few established clients so I'll make sure to ask to add them specifically.
Have you heard of a "sample" contract before? I'm not sure if it's the full contract before edits or just a partial contract. It is rather short (one page?) And I feel like it's not as in depth as I was expecting
Nyrryl Cadiz SVS OG last edited by Nyrryl Cadiz
Hi @carlianne!!! I'm still new to the game myself but I don't think there's much room for negotiation when it comes to Agent contracts. The best strategy I've found so far is to stay away from Bad agents. Generally, reputable agents have great contracts that will work well for the artists.
Out of curiosity, what are the aspects that you were hoping to negotiate with your agent?
I agree with @davidhohn. If you list out your previous clients (clients you found on your own before you met your agent), your agent will allow you to work with them without your agent taking a cut. Provided that you also handle the business part of that project yourself but you could always invite your agent to handle that part but then again, you'll have to give them a cut. We also had this arrangement with my agency.
Nyrryl Cadiz SVS OG last edited by
Also, as @davidhohn mentioned. You should also ask what happens if you choose to part ways with your agent. In my current agency, we have a 3 month cooling off period. Which means that no Agent/ Rep can hire me 3 months after I've submitted my resignation. I can still send submissions to other agencies but they cannot represent me within those 3 months.
@Nyrryl-Cadiz Thanks! Honestly just wanted to know what I should be looking for.
I was going to look out for the end of contract as I've heard of horror stories about in the podcast as well as making sure I can continue working with me current clients. So I'll follow up on that.
The percentage looked on par with the industry standard to me so I wasn't too worried about that.
But just making sure I'm not missing anything else. When getting contract jobs I've been told to always negotiate a little bit higher pay but it doesn't seem that's really the same with agents since there appears to be just an industry standard on the percentage they take.
Also the contract just seemed too short I think it's not the full thing, which is part of what made me ask. I'll be following up on that too
@carlianne I haven't really come across as "sample contract"
I was looking at the agent contracts in my archive. I have one from Shannon & Associates that is about 4 pages (13 clauses/numbered paragraphs)
My contract with BookEnds Literary is 4 pages (18 clauses)
If you have questions or are concerned that the contract isn't comprehensive enough, I would suggest that you contact the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in your area to have the language of the contract explained to you. It is always a good idea to fully understand what you are signing
@davidhohn oh that's great I hadn't heard of that resource before! Thanks!
Navya Raju last edited by
I'm on the same path right now, I'm currently negotiating my contract with an agent. Luckily my mentor broke down some aspects of it to me. I'm still quite new to this, trying to get a hang of it, my major concern is if it is possible for me to continue my projects with my current clients without their representation.
@Navya-Raju If you wish to continue working with established clients (These are often referred to as "house" accounts) and don't want to involve the prospective agent, industry standard (in the US) is that you should be able to do so.
The primary goal of an agent is to get you work you couldn't (or wouldn't) otherwise get yourself, allowing you to spend more time on the creative side of illustration. An agent that required you to "hand over" established contacts that you personally spent days, weeks and even years cultivating, would raise significant red flags for me.
Now if you specifically asked your agent to negotiate a contract with an established client then there's an argument to made that the agent should be compensated in some way. That might be the agents "usual" percentage, or given that they didn't spend any time working to establish the relationship, a "discounted" percentage.
One of the things to always remember is that you are effectively hiring the agent. You are paying them. The agent technically works for you -- even if the most productive way to view the illustrator/agent relationship is as a "partnership".
Navya Raju last edited by
@davidhohn Thank you, David. Looking into these factors, I addressed my concerns to the agent, hoping it works out.