Agent or no agent. How to get work and what's your dayjob


  • Pro SVS OG

    @nessillustration No, that would be a total no go. Of course you have to be able to seek out your own jobs - that is spelled out quite clear in my contract. The only thing my agent asked is to inform her if I write to publishing houses, so that she can take note that I contacted them already.
    Otherwise, my contract covers exclusively book work. Everything else is free range...I can involve her or not, as I see fit. And she can decide not to get involved on a non-book contract if she doesn’t want to. This past year I’ve had all possible variations: jobs completely without her, jobs with her finding and managing the contact, jobs where I had the contact, but she managed it, jobs where she declined to manage even if I asked her ....a whole mixed bag.



  • @hannahmccaffery @NessIllustration @smceccarelli Wow so much good information!! Thank you so much. I am literally taking notes hehe

    Does a literary agent mean i have to write my stories too? Or does it mean they work in the publishing industry whereas an illustration agent can find you jobs also for say an advertising agency?

    I totally need to join the AOI

    and now talking to all of you makes me so happy i want to meet you all in real life too ❤


  • Pro

    @irina Literary agents work solely in the publishing world, they represent mostly authors but a lot of them also represent illustrators who don't write. A literary agent is a good choice if you're particularly interested in children's books and only want to do children's books, or if you would like to write your own stories one day and be an author-illustrator. Other agents and agencies that represent illustrators are usually more varied but most of them still have a "specialty". You might find an agency that specializes in editorial illustration, advertising illustration, children illustration, etc. It's good to find an agency that does the kind of work that you want to do or that your work is suited for 🙂 But they may occasionally send you stuff a bit outside of their specialty also, it happens! My agency specializes in children book illustration, but I know they've given some editorial illustration to some of their artists as well.


  • Pro SVS OG

    @irina

    Does a literary agent mean i have to write my stories too? Or does it mean they work in the publishing industry whereas an illustration agent can find you jobs also for say an advertising agency?

    It just means they only work in the publishing industry and they normally represent writers too.
    Author-Illustrators are seeked after, though, so if you want to write they encourage that.



  • Thank you muchly again. One more thing

    Is it customary for agents to help you develop your work? Like offering constructive feedback or telling you what they find is a stregth in your work and what you need to develop? Is there any help with growth in that sense?



  • I'm not 100% sure on that, maybe some agents do but my agent didn't really give me feedback on my actual work, but he always told me what my portfolio was missing (e.g more fairytale scenes, different ethnicity etc), which was helpful as they understand the market and what is current and popular at the moment.
    It would be great if some did, but in the meantime you've always got this forum and any other illustration forums you can find to get good feedback from 🙂



  • @hannahmccaffery That's great and helpful. And yes, you are right 😃



  • @nessillustration

    Eventually, I found a studio that could hire me part-time, I would work from home and get about 10-15 hours a week of work from them. I took it, and then looked for more freelance work to fill in the rest of my schedule. I found some small commissions at first, then bigger ones. I continually improved my portfolio and kept sending it to publishers, companies and agents. After a couple months, I had enough work to start dropping the lower paying contracts. I got my first book deal. Then an agent I had emailed contacted me back and signed me. Just last week I received my first contract from the agency. I dropped that very first studio job I had because I no longer have time for it. I kind of fell into this freelance illustration thing and it worked out, and now I'm happier than ever! I'm so glad I didn't get a studio job when I so desperately wanted one...

    It makes me so happy to hear stuff like this, because this is pretty much exactly how I'm hoping to transition into freelance. It's great to see success stories, and especially that you accomplished all that in 6 months. I'm terrified of failing as I try to get a foothold in the industry, but this forum really helps give me more confidence that everything might just work out!


  • Pro

    @cgordon I wish you the best of luck with your transition into freelance! It's absolutely possible and you can do it at your own rhythm 🙂 I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing it in 6 months hihi... it's quite stressful! But there's no such thing as "failing", if you even get one job in a year that's a success, you gain experience and practice your art and the next year you get more jobs 🙂 A big success is always built on the back of small successes, and as long as you celebrate those and keep working towards the next small success you will eventually reach your goals 🙂 Best of luck to you!



  • @cgordon Really like your work @cgordon 🙂 Good luck to you too!!


  • Pro SVS OG

    @irina

    @irina said in Agent or no agent. How to get work and what's your dayjob:

    Thank you muchly again. One more thing

    Is it customary for agents to help you develop your work? Like offering constructive feedback or telling you what they find is a stregth in your work and what you need to develop? Is there any help with growth in that sense?

    It´s not common for agents to do that. That´s what I understand from listening and talking to other artists as well as my own experience. They may point out illustration styles that sell well (my agent does - though mostly I don’t know what to make with the information), but will not offer feedback. Indeed, my agent is so careful to avoid expressing any comment on my work, that I almost think there is some taboo there....


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