Having agent trouble

  • I had a quick question on what to do if agents keep saying your work looks great but it's not a right fit for their list or book market. Lately I've had more time to reach out to agents in hopes of finding representation for my art , but I've been finding it a little difficult to find an agent that wants to deal with my style , a lot of them say the work is great but when asking for more out of me they're not sure if they can ask or that my work wouldn't sell well.

    So I'm just having conflicting messages , I thought I've learned more than enough and now would be the time to take what I've learned in art and share it but maybe I need to pull back and make things simple to fit in with everyone else.

  • @Corlette-Douglas style is soooo subjective so I think if they're saying the art looks great then that's wonderful feedback. Can you share your portfolio with us to help give you feedback?

  • Sorry about not adding my website , I wasn't sure how to embed it into the box. And yeah I know there are just so many different styles that I would find it unbelievable that no one is willing to work with me.


  • SVS OG

    @Corlette-Douglas I personally like your style. I love your colors and I love how there's so much happening in each illustration. My one issue might be that your characters are looking too thick compared to the mainstream style of the market. But that could just be me. If I may, which agencies did you apply to?

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Ohh to thick meaning a little on the chubby side , should I slim all my characters down ? Ive looked at a good amount some are advocate art , bright agency, Clavis publishing ,I just submitted to beehive illustrations and there's Andrea brown lit agency ,that cators in helping black creators find the right agent . There's more but those are agents I've contacted individually.

    As of right now I'm going to see if mentor ship can be of help to me maybe there's something I'm missing.

  • Pro

    @Corlette-Douglas I think I can see a little where they're coming from... Your work is really great, no doubt about it, but it strikes me more as an animation style than picture books. I think part of the problem is you have a lot of pieces like character turnarounds or standalone illustrations, but I only see one actual children book spread. This one:


    And this image wouldn't reassure an art director that you know how to make children book spread. The character are not emphasized as the main focus of the illustration, they are smack dab in the middle of the gutter (the middle of the spread where the spine will attach the pages) and the text is enormous and a bit garish, not in line with modern typography trends for picture books. My advice would be to study some picture books to learn how to compose a spread for a book, as well as visual trends and typography trends, and incorporate that to your portfolio and style. Fill your portfolio with exactly the kind of work you want to be hired for, so that agents and art directors can better picture your style in that context.

    If it helps at all, I used to be in the exact same spot as you. Agents kept telling me they weren't sure my style would work for picture books because it is vector based and they said it looked a bit too clean and commercial. So I decided to take a break from applying to agents and get some work on my own. I was able to get picture book work from a local publisher (not very well paid lol) and created many new personal pieces for my portfolio including some spreads for Harry Potter "as a children's book". After I added all this to my portfolio and sent it to agents again, the result was night and day. Suddenly, they could see my style working for picture books after all! I didn't change my style at all, just formatted it in the right way so that they can see clearly what it would look like in a picture book. Art directors and agents can be very hesitant to take risks. If they don't see exactly what they're going to get, they don't take a chance on it. Your portfolio looks full of personal pieces or character design turnarounds, not work formatted for a professional children's book contract.

    I hope this helps! You have great skill and I don't think you really need to change your style at all, just the contents of your portfolio!

  • @NessIllustration said in Having agent trouble:

    I used to be in the exact same spot as you. Agents kept telling me they weren't sure my style would work for picture books because it is vector based and they said it looked a bit too clean and commercial. So I decided to take a break from applying to agents and get some work on my own. I was able to get picture book work from a

    Thanks so much , I think I'm going to have to revamp everything along those lines and probably make a separate account for any turnarounds or character designs I may have. I thought ifI had a wide enough style for animation and children's books I'd see a career in either one ,but I guess I have to keep them away from each other or agents will get confused. And lettering I usually just use what ever I have but I could always take it out till I understand it better. I dont write it myself I usually just pick from what I have in type.

  • @NessIllustration said in Having agent trouble:

    and created many new personal pieces for my portfolio including some spreads for Harry Pott

    Oh and also do you think it's best if I just make a couple new book pieces of a personal story and one I can make into a story people already know ? I think I can go back and start working on some new pieces that all go together.

  • Pro

    @Corlette-Douglas There's good sides to both alternatives! If you pick a story people already know like a fairy tale or known franchise, people know the story so they know if you're telling it right. But if you do a personal piece, you have the opportunity to show your own story, and decide what elements you're showing depending on what's missing in your portfolio. For instance, if you think your portfolio is missing cars then you can create a personal book illustration that includes cars to show that off. Ideally I'd say do a few of both, as they have different strengths 🙂

  • Pro

    @Corlette-Douglas Yes animation and children's books have different needs and styles, and your portfolio needs to be catered to one or the other, not both. I feel your pain as a former jack of all trades myself. I studied animation, and I've done realistic digital painting and watercolors and a bunch of other things. My portfolio only shows a tiny part of my overall body of work - only the part that's relevant to the work I'm trying to get now.

  • @NessIllustration ohhh I see , and how would I know which single illustration pieces to keep ? Cause a few I like how they look and it seems like it would give people a little insight on the characters or simple scenes I can make. I noticed on your site you have a few images that go with each other and others that seem to be singles , how did you know which ones keep and get rid of ?

  • Pro

    @Corlette-Douglas I mostly went with my strongest pieces that garnered the most attention on social media, or pieces that have specifically gotten me work in the past. When you get a job, it's good practice to ask which piece in your portfolio they like most and made them think of you for this project. It's good insight into what they like about your work (so you can lean into that in the job) and what they're expecting from you in this job. But also it gives you good insight on what pieces get you work. My unicorns for instance, I would personally like to take it out because I,m not crazy about it. It's a collection of spot illustrations, not that impressive in my opinion. But it has gotten me several contracts before. My toucan illustration as well, I'll probably never take it out because for some reason it's a standout for my clients. I think every other client tells me it's one of the pieces that made them think of me for the job. It's never going away from my portfolio lolll

  • @NessIllustration Ok I'll look through everything I have and start cleaning a few things up. Thank you so much for the advice it really helps that I dont have to change up my style and just reorganize and do a few things over. 🙂

  • Great advice over here

  • @Corlette-Douglas Just checked out your website I really love your vibrant work! You have tons and tons which is great and you have done some really tricky things which show off your skill, so much variety!!! You have loads of great work I think it's a case of refining it more. I think we can sometimes feel pressured to have this perfect portfolio and to get an agent before we are ready. (I did a few years ago, but after taking a long break I've come to terms with the fact that it's going to take me a lot more time, it really is a long game) I mean sometimes we try stuff out and think it's great but then we come back to it and find an even better way of doing things which we prefer! Maybe you could try out some different ways of drawing faces and eyes, it's weird how that can make such a difference. I think some of the faces look very on the side of realism which is in contrast with your simplified backgrounds, something slightly simpler might gel more. Although saying that the witch in yellow looks perfect for a middle grade fiction cover, and would look really marketable if you had some black and white spreads to go in the book.

    I choose some screenshots of images that stood out to me as really strong pieces. Untitled_Artwork copy.jpg (Ask me to explain if my annotations don't make sense)

    I can think of a few illustrators who I think you could look at to get an idea of where you could go with your style/ work depending on what type of work you would like to get?

    Recently I've been buying picture books and studying them really hard to see what I love about them and how I can get that 'picture book look' in terms of layouts and things like that which @NessIllustration pointed out can give your work a whole new appeal! 😛 It's just thinking very literally about how your art would fit into books which is something I am working on myself.

  • @hannahmarie thank you for giving me lots of new notes to consider, I would honestly love to do some cover book designs for older kids even if it's not designing the whole book it would still be something I would like to dive into.

  • i think there is a lot of good stuff in your portfolio, but there is too much and it is too busy. It is overwhelming to scroll though the whole page. Also as a tip I've heard Will/Lee/Jake say multiple times is that your portfolio is only as good as your worst piece, so I would remove a bunch of illustrations, and leave the best 10-15 up. Secondly would you be able to organize the gallery in a way that its in a neater grid, or that there would be some white borders between illustrations? I think that would do a lot to bring some order to everything.

    Good luck with your journey! Im back at querying agents too and am trying to find the right home for my work.

  • @Corlette-Douglas Your style is so energetic, fun, and joyful I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing some picture books or art YOU enjoy.

  • SVS OG

    @Corlette-Douglas hi! Actually after giving it much thought. I’m not really bothered by your character’s body size. What I actually think is the issue is the anotomy. A lot of your characters have disproportionate arm lengths, some have wonky hands, and others, wonky poses.

    And though I love the energy in your images, I find the amount of color too busy. There are not that much spaces ni your pieces for the eyes to rest. Normally, publishers look for these details to gauge an illustrator’s skills. These spaces are where text are commonly placed and thinking about text layout beforehand shows skill.

    I also think you have too much artworks. Try to boil them down to only THE BEST pieces. If you don’t mind. I’d like share my suggestion of which pieces can go and which could stay. Of course that’s if you’d like me to post it here?

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Oh yes that would be alright with me. I'm going to go back today and redo a lot of the outlining of the parker's lemonade and It would be great to to in my portfolio which ones to keep and get take of.

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