Questions about agents, educational illustration and more

  • Hello everyone!

    I know I haven't been very active recently on the forum, I am working on several project/commissions and I also took a class with CGMA which was quite time consuming so I didn't have much time for anything else.

    However, this is my safe place when I have questions about anything art related and something HUGE just happened in the last week and I wanted to have your very valuable input.

    I was approach by an agent from a very reputable agency that is interested in representing me if we could use emojis on the forum, I would include every happy/surprised/crazy emojis possible here!!! I am not sure I am allowed to say which agency (although I don't see why not..) but let just say some of the illustrator I admire the most are represented by them so I am kind of flabbergasted by all this haha!
    However, I don't want to get TOO excited, we are still very early in the process - She gave me some briefs and I have to do sketches and send them to her by next Monday and then we'll see!

    Anyway, we spoke over the phone for about 45 minutes today and I am very, very, VERY excited by pretty much every aspect of what she was telling me except one thing. She was mostly talking about finding me work in the education market initially. I was very clear with her that my goal is eventually to do trade books. I was under the impression that for her this was a natural first step toward eventually getting commercial/trade book projects. I just wanted to hear your opinion on this.

    I remember one class by @Lee-White where he was talking about educational work and I was under the impression that you can't really get any portfolio quality material from this kind of work (mostly because the turnover is very fast...) He was also saying that the pay is usually bad, but that's not so much a concern for me at this time as I have another full time job that pays the bills.

    Honestly, I had a very good feeling when I spoke to her today and I think I would sign any contract she send my way if she does decide to be my rep (I would fell like loosing a HUGE opportunity by turning this down) but I still wanted to have your opinion on the educational work aspect. Are you doing educational work? Can it really lead to trade picture book? Any other thoughts?

    THANKS! 🙂

  • Pro SVS OG

    Wow, wonderful! Congratulations and cheers!! Well done and well deserved!
    As my agent loves to repeat more often than I care to hear, it is very difficult to enter the trade book market as a new illustrator and it takes time and patience. Every path is different and you may have the right alignment of skills and stars and chances and get that entry sooner rather than later (I wish you that!), but it helps to arm yourself with the knowledge that it may take some time.
    Everything else is what my agent would call „stepping stones“.

    I did two educational books before signing with my agent. Yes, the timelines are too fast to make anything really worthwhile (5 weeks and 6 weeks respectively for the two I illustrated) and the pay was lousy (though I am sure she would have gotten me better conditions if she had handled them). My agent is not interested particularly in pitching me for educational (I think she doesn’t feel she gets enough money for my time ;-)), but she is getting me some pretty cool contracts in advertisement (companies like to do children books too, apparently!).

    Meanwhile, she is trying to sell my own book as well as helping me to develop a new one. At the beginning I was disappointed that trade market book deals were not forthcoming, but now I am actually happy of how things are moving. I am gaining book experience (just finishing my fourth picture book) and realizing that I really needed it. The jobs are getting progressively more interesting and I am building some track record.
    And, yes, she really thinks this helps to move into trade books and it’s clearly her goal too, which is comforting. In my experience, working with an agent is a partnershaft and a dialogue. I feel it´s a partnershaft where both parties have the goal of building a successful illustrator career - one party happens to know a lot more about the business than the other, so I need to trust her. And she needs to trust me that I will always do my best, no matter what jobs we take.
    If you get this feeling of mutual trust it´s a good sign - although heaven knows I was not always happy with what she told me (especially when she critiques my stories ;-)).

  • Not being represented I have no advice. However, I am super excited for you that you got a great offer! Well deserved.

  • @smceccarelli Thanks Simona! Great insight as usual! 🙂

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