Portfolio Advice?

  • Hello fellow SVS classmates. I know many of you have been finishing your portfolios and going out into the world and getting reps for childeren's illustration. I feel like I'm on a little bit of an island because SVS and the forum is so heavily geared toward children's books. My style is more comic style but I would love to be able to get an art rep and start doing professional freelance work. Are there any agencies that you know of where I could get work that doesn't necessarily have their primary focus on children's books. I would love to do book covers and artwork for packaging or anything along those lines. I have linked my portfolio below. Let me know what you think and if there are any changes I should make? Any feed back would be greatly appreciated.


  • SVS OG

    @K-Flagg i don't really know any agencies for comic artist

  • Moderator

    @K-Flagg I think your quest is shared by more illustrators than you know...

    When I first found SVSLearn I, too, was sorta befuddled that "Visual Storytelling" didn't seem to include a wider range of possibilities beyond children's illustration, as we all know its possible to tell stories through illustration beyond just the children's publishing industry. To be quite frank, in the beginning, I was personally a little annoyed that all three guys who started the site weren't exclusively children's book illustrators but relied heavily on different forms of "storytelling" as alternative income streams, and to me those particular facets of their experience didn't seem to be addressed as much... I mean, I love picture books to be sure, but it has been anecdotally suggested over and over again that it's not probable nor practical to rely completely and entirely upon illustrating books as a sole income stream. That annoyance mellowed as I learned more...

    I wonder if your portfolio could be more focused, perhaps? Is it necessary to demonstrate you can do graphic novels and comics and licensing and children's books? Because the folks doing the hiring won't care--they want you for their one specific project... I wonder if a more specific approach could be more effective?

    I've been told the type of work one promotes will be the kind of attention one attracts. For me, I have to work hard to illustrate in a mode specifically appropriate to children's publishing. It's not all I can do, and it's certainly not all I want to do. But that doesn't matter--that's the particular type of work I'm seeking, and it's unfortunately exclusionary of the other types of work I feel I'm equally capable of. So I had to take a lot of stuff off my website. Good stuff. Stuff I'm proud of. Stuff that shows off what I can do. And I still need to weedle it down much further. Because the people I'm trying to attract don't care that I can do all that other stuff. I have to meet them where they're at, not where I want them to be. I would suggest narrowing down your portfolio to cater to either comic art, children's illustration, or licensing.

    In other words, restrain from casting a wide net. Perhaps consider using a fishing pole. The fish you will hopefully catch may lead to a nice big school of different types of fish, which is exactly where you want to be. It seems that even agencies who represent artists capable of doing multiple things (and even multiple styles) are probably attracted to one particular skill of an artist's full range at first. It might mean narrowing your work to cater to one industry or another, or to agencies looking to represent artists capable of specific fields.

    At least that's my personal observation at the moment. And that's exactly where I am, too. Geesh that's been a very bitter pill to swallow. We get the work we put out to get in the door. And then slowly that door opens up wider to different work. And I can still do my own stuff. Seems to me good agents and agencies will want to hear what you want to do, I think. They're not going to want to slog sell your skills at doing something you ultimately hate. That's ultimately bad for them.

    Now to your point:

    I started with a google search using "Illustration Representation Agency" as keywords and started to collect bookmarks of sites that obviously had a lot more than just children's illustration going for them--some actually have groups of "fields" one could click on to narrow types of illustration and the illustrators that might fit into that particular type of work. Editorial and Children and Motion, for example.

    Here's a very short list of some agencies I've found, with either a "stable" of illustrators that do a wider range of work beyond just illustration for children, or the range of artists they represent seem to have very different styles--some fitting your comic-asesthetic. I think you could probably, with a lot more hunting, find better examples. I'm not saying these are good or anywhere near the best examples, but they hearken to what you're describing in a sense. I know there are more out there.








    Many of those sites are in the UK, so they may not be appropriate for US artists, but there are more and more artists that seek international representation and some agencies cater to that.

    I know very little about each agency, beyond recognizing some of the artists on their rosters. I collect agency sites as bookmarks every time I see an artist say they're represented by such and such or see posts about specific agencies being mentioned. There's no curation to this handful, really. I would suggest finding artists you love and admire and seeking who represents them. That might help you create a more appropriate list for you.

    I know this was a long-winded block of text, but your post struck me to the core, and I felt like I needed to respond--which I've revised and edited several times after posting it... <sigh> Others may have a very very different take on things, with more experience and wiser counsel and a deeper understanding of the reality of how things work. I'm shooting from the hip as I feel I'm in the same situation you're in--outside looking in. I'd be very curious as to how others feel about this.

  • @Coreyartus thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful response! I had looked at a few of those art agencies but I think I have only seen 2 of them that have sections with line art or a similar category. I know there must be other people who feel this way about their portfolios and are just hoping they fit somewhere.

  • I think the keyword to search is "artist agency" "illustrator agency", or something similar. I am not very familiar with the art agency world - I think there are a lot of them out there, as @Coreyartus has listed some of them. Their clients are more in the editorial, advertising, games, animation side. I can think of 2 that I have heard of recently:

    If you are interested in illustrating graphic novels, my impression is that there is a growing interests of illustrators who do graphic novels in the traditional kidlit agency world.

  • @xin-li Thank you! Yes I did stumble across one of those but had not heard of the other. I guess I was just curious if I even have a shot at getting represented with my style or if you guys believe they are only looking for a more traditional children's illustration styles?

  • @Coreyartus thanks for posting. I wonder if it is almost time for me to be putting together a professional portfolio focused on picture book illustration. I think I have developed a style that I feel comfortable with and seems to be generating more positive responses. You made really good points about focusing on the type of work you are seeking. I think I would be interested in book covers and picture books more so than comics. I think I have come to realize that while I love comics, I probably would not want a career in them. I would rather make a name for myself and then write my own graphic novel.
    @K-Flagg thank you for asking us to look at your stuff. I really like your comic. I think you could focus more on that. Maybe throw in a few comic covers. You might want to show how you would render other people’s characters. I would find other comic artists portfolios and see what they have done.

  • @chrisaakins Thanks for looking at my portfolio! I think that is a great idea! You have done a lot of work just in past year alone and I think you should have a portfolio for it 🙂

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