MB, Advocate Art, Plum Pudding, Inky, Lemonade & Astound Us angecy?

  • I want to apply for some of them, wonder if anyone has worked / working with them?

    I am mainly interested in

    1. Their ability of bringing works.
    2. If their terms are reasonable/flexible. Some agencies does not encourage clients getting jobs via other channels, and even charge for it.
    3. How they deal with illustrators who are also interested in writing book.

    I've heard lots of good words of Astound Us from @NessIllustration on this forum. If there is any illustration agency that you think is great, please also feel free to share.

    Thank you!

  • Pro


    As you said I'm with Astound and love them 🙂 I've only been with them since the fall but they found me 3 book deals, one contract for a book cover, and another contract for an educational publisher. I've also had many other inquiries which haven't gone through for one reason or another, so things are really happening all the time! It's rare 2 weeks go by without hearing from them. They also have frequent blog features, where they'll decide on a theme (often seasonal) and invite artists to create a new piece for it. It's a fun way to put yourself forward and gain a good portfolio piece at the same time. Apart from that they also do licensing, and this year they've actually acted as my art director to help me put together my first batch of greeting cards (I needed all the assistance I could get) to present at licensing shows like Surtex. They also have an agent that takes new book dummies and ideas, so it's possible for author-illustrators. All in all lovely experience!

    In the past I was with Beehive, they were lovely but did not provide any guidance for portfolio and career and were a lot less proactive than Astound. Perhaps for those reasons, I didn't get much work from them.

    Before I signed I also queried other agents as well, with mixed experiences. Chris from CAT agency was an amazingly wonderful lady who took the time to review my portfolio and give me advice even though my style wasn't a good fit for them. I have the warm fuzzies whenever I think of this agency!

    I almost signed with Advocate Art once. At the very beginning of my career before I even had a solid portfolio and was still working at a studio, I sent in my work without really expecting to hear back but was asked to sign their welcome package and go through the final portfolio review. I was told most people make it through that stage and it's just a formality to see if they changed their minds. I really got my hopes up, but then they did actually change their minds and turned me down at the final portfolio review. They were all nice in general and I didn't have a very bad experience, but they did really get my hopes up and then crushed my spirit! I still applied to them again later though, but never heard back.

    I also had a disappointing experience with Lemonade. I was sending my queries and had a copy/paste intro to my cover letter (my bio part) to save me time. I accidentally sent my query to Lemonade that read "Dear Plum Pudding". I immediately panicked, exploded into tears, tried to unsend the email - to no avail. I received an immediate response not 5 minutes later: "Dear Vanessa, we're not the Plum Pudding agency, We'll be tossing out your application now". I was pretty crushed as you can imagine, and beating myself up for weeks. Later though, when thinking back, I thought it was pretty petty of them to toss out an application just because of a silly mistake like that. I had a good portfolio (I was signed that same season). If they really think artists at the beginning of their careers can afford to to focus on just one agency and not query any other, they have their head up their ass! Not only that, I had queried them before and hadn't had any response at all. So this time not only did they toss out my application out of spite for that silly mistake, but they purposely told me they tossed it out just to smear it in my face. That was pretty low of them and at the time, really destroyed me. I stayed in bed for 2 days crying, feeling like a total loser, ashamed of my mistake and thinking I would never amount to anything, because of their pettiness...

    I also applied to Plum Pudding and Bright agency but never heard back, which is fair enough cause they're busy!

    Keep in mind my experiences won't necessarily mirror others. I'm sure Lemonade artists are really happy with them, for instance! I hope my limited experience provides you with any insight you might find useful 🙂

  • Moderator

    @NessIllustration This is phenomenally, incredibly helpful. This level of honestly is what's needed--as someone who anticipates approaching agencies at some point in my (far flung) future, I've been keen to hear about how different approaches work and the variety of potential responses. It's really helpful to read your experiences--thank-you so much for being honest and brave and sharing them with us. Staring into the great unknown that is "the professional arena" can sometimes feel daunting, and it's gems like this that are profoundly enlightening and encouraging.

  • @NessIllustration said in MB, Advocate Art, Plum Pudding, Inky, Lemonade & Astound Us angecy?:

    Keep in mind my experiences won't necessarily mirror others. I'm sure Lemonade artists are really happy with them, for instance! I hope my limited experience provides you with any insight you might find useful

    Thank you for for sharing and being honest on this topic, @NessIllustration These are soooooooooooo helpful!

    Gosh! Your experience with Lemonade sounds really horrible. They could totally just put your application away, but sending an email saying tossing it away?? It's probably good for you that you are not working with those people.

    Now I am a bit nervous(in a good way because there is hope!), lots of things to do, writing query letter, polishing my portfolio a little bit, etc. Fingers crossed 😃

  • I think agents can be a very personal thing for what works for you. @NessIllustration has a good experience with Astound, but mine was a little bitter. They reached out to me in summer 2018 and asked if I was interested in representation. I asked them questions and went through all the process to sign up and signed all documents. Then I didn't hear from them for weeks, I kept sending emails checking in and wondering why I wasn't up on their website yet. I kept getting emails saying everything was fine they were just behind. After a few weeks they then sent me an email saying they changed their mind and didn't want to represent me anymore. I was gutted, especially because in that time I had turned down another agent who had inquired about representation with me! Then a few weeks after that they emailed again saying they made a mistake and did want to represent me, but personally I wasn't confident in them anymore as I felt that they must not be confident about my work so I said no thank you.

    Plum Pudding reached out to me about a month ago and I have a good experience with them so far. They have suggested some things they think would improve my portfolio, and we've arranged a meeting at Bologna Book Fair in March/April so hopefully that could lead to something.

    I've been spending a lot of time working on my portfolio and dummy books in the past year, and I think I am getting to the point where I want to start querying agents in the next month or two so I will also be checking this thread, as it's so hard to know what agency you will be a good fit with!

  • Pro

    @eriberart That sounds awful! I'm sorry to hear you've had such a bad experience 😞 This is similar to my experience with Advocate Art, in which they seemed interested, then there was a 2 weeks silence, then they changed their minds 😕 It really is gutting.

    It may be worth mentioning @idid that Astound seems to have changed their onboarding process. I did not query Astound directly. I found a call for submissions on LinkedIn from a company called ItsMe. https://itsme.biz
    They are an agency that recruits talent for multiple illustration agencies. Sounds weird, but ItsMe is legit. I think this really helps agencies to have someone to pre-screen applicants and match them to an appropriate agency. I sent my portfolio to Lara at ItsMe by email, and received an email a few days later that she liked my portfolio and thought I was a good match for Astound. She had me sign their welcome package and sent my stuff to Astound for a final review. Not 2 days later, I heard back from Astound that they had decided to sign me. This seems to have really streamlined their process and they have confidence in the applicants that ItsMe forwards to them. Advocate art uses them also, so my sad experience with them would likely not be the same for someone else today in 2020.

  • @NessIllustration Thank you! That's interesting information. Is ItsMe similar to Headhunting services? and is it free to artists? They probably charge agencies I guess ?

  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration Thought it would be good to share that after being with my agent for a year I organized a meeting with them and we met in London for a couple of hours to talk about projects for this year. From this meeting they will take one of my picture book dummies, a couple of picture books in PDF and some illustration work to Bologna.
    It was a long journey to meet up, however if you can orchestrate a meet up it would be great to really know exactly who you are emailing, what they need from you to lift them up and bring in projects and business.

  • Pro

    @Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson That's amazing Judy, I'm so glad things are working out great with your agent 😃 A meeting in person sounds like a wonderful idea!

  • @NessIllustration thanks for sharing your experience!! I was wondering how many pieces you had in your portfolio when you signed with your agency?

  • Pro

    @Katie-Kordesh Actually, I haven't really updated my portfolio signed I signed (I know I know!) so if you go to my website, that's exactly what I sent. My agent made me create a nativity scene spread and cover to complete it, and those were added to my Astound page, but I've yet to add it to my website (woops!)
    Also it's important to note that after first contact, when they said they might be interested, I had to send over small JPGs of ALL my work for a final review. So while your original portfolio that you send can have as little as 10 pieces in it and it's best to showcase your best work only, they will likely then ask to see everything you can do to make a final decision but also help them market you. I hear they do this because sometimes they'll find some gems in the artist's discard pile of pieces that didn't make the cut for their portfolio.

  • @NessIllustration Lol I don't blame you. Portfolio formatting/updating can take so long. Also, thank you this is so helpful☺ I've always been curious about what people's portfolios look like when they first got their agent!

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