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How to be represented by an illustration agency

How to be represented by an illustration agency

You can get all this by signing up for an illustration agency. But how do you approach it and how can you increase your chances of being signed?

We spoke to people from leading illustration agencies in the UK to find out. Read on to discover their expert tips and advice. (If you also want to hear tips from illustrators, check out this helpful thread Twitter.)

1. Do not copy and paste your query

First, understand that not all agencies are the same, and the worst thing you can do is send the same email to everyone.

Instead, research and find out as much information as possible about the agency: who they represent, what kind of clients they attract, what kind of artists they are looking for, etc. That way, you have a much better idea of ​​how to sell yourself. even to them.

“As agents, it’s incredibly important to us that illustrators approaching Pocko understand our vision and how they could fit into our list,” says agent and creative producer Phoebe Mead.

Oliver Roberts, the founder of Oskar Illustration, agrees. “If you take the time to look at an agency’s website and read their published blogs, it shows that you have done a little research,” he says. “It’s easy to see when an application has been copied and pasted! Ask yourself if you think your current style and work could sit well among the other represented artists. What would make you a valuable addition ? “



A Ramen cartoon by Greta Samuel. Greetings from the artist and Oskar Illustration

2. Follow the submission process

As an agency, you want to work with people who can follow the instructions carefully. So if there is a specific submission process for new illustrators, be sure to use it.

It is e.g. The case of Handsome Frank, whose website directs you to an email address for submission. “We specifically ask for at least nine illustrations attached as low-resolution JPGs, as opposed to links or PDFs,” explains co-founder Jon Cockley. “This removes the smart sites and links to Instagram accounts and just allows us to rate an artist based solely on their work.”

If the number of samples is not specified, be careful not to send too many. “Quality, not quantity is the key here,” Oliver says. “Draw six to ten examples of what you think is your strongest work, whether commissioned or personal.”

Linn Fritz, illustration for the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  Greetings from aritst and Pocko



Linn Fritz, illustration for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Greetings from aritst and Pocko

3. Make emails carefully

If there is no specific submission process or form, email is usually the best way to get in touch with an illustration agency. “Make the following points concise in your message,” Oliver advises. “What are you looking for in an illustration agency? What kind of work do you want to get commissioned? (For example, editorial, brand or book illustration.) What inspires and drives you to create your individual artistic style? Are you currently full-time, or are you supporting your income with another job? “

Yes, these agencies get a LOT of inquiries and you may have to wait some time for an answer. But do not think that it is a waste of time, because many artists have representation in this way.

Jon gives some examples at Handsome Frank. “Malika Favre approached us following a recommendation from an agent art buyer, one I am eternally grateful for. Martina Flor was another who reached out to us. She sent us a small package in early January one year. A beautiful style mailer who asked us what our New Year’s resolutions were. On the back it said that her New Year’s resolutions were to be represented by Handsome Frank. It attracted attention, we started talking and a few weeks later we signed her. “

Work by Martina Flor.  Greetings from the artist and Handsome Frank



Work by Martina Flor. Greetings from the artist and Handsome Frank

4. Show your clear style

Talk to any illustration agent and you will discover that one of the most important things they are looking for is someone with a unique style.

“It’s so important,” Jon says. “Customers who come to an illustration agency website need to immediately understand what each person can do. They are looking for an expert in their field. I think too much variation in style can sometimes plant a seed of doubt. That raises the question, ‘What do I get if I order this person?’ “In short, customers want security and confidence that they know what they’re getting. “A consistent job builds trust.”

However, a consistent style can be hard to show if all your customers to date have asked for different things. In that case, Paige Collins from Pocko recommends creating personal work instead.

“Personal work is also a way to build confidence in your own visual language,” she adds. “Practice in the new character design you’ve been thinking of and fill out your portfolio where client work may be lacking.”

That being said, it does not just mean that you have a distinctive style, you are not always asked to reproduce it. “Keep an open mind,” Paige says. “Sometimes we get you to work with clients who may not be what you would normally go for. Just know that you’re one step closer to getting the clients you want to work with.”

Jokha Suleiman from ArtPaths has a similar approach. “Try to stay consistent with your own style, but be open to experimenting,” she advises. “Illustration today comes in various forms, so be prepared to change your style when needed.”

Escape, cover for The New Yorker © Malika Favre, courtesy of the artist and Handsome Frank



Escape, cover for The New Yorker © Malika Favre, courtesy of the artist and Handsome Frank

5. Think about your commercial potential

Having a distinctive style is one thing, but it must also be salable. Otherwise, an illustration agency has no interest in it. “Obviously, we need to see the commercial potential for the work,” Jon says. “It’s not enough to look at a portfolio and see aesthetically pleasing images. Beyond that, one has to imagine if and where it could work in a commercial context.

“When we look at a portfolio site, we often talk about types of work we think someone is likely to get and what sectors their work might suit,” he adds. “We’re very much looking for artists that we consider to be a good fit for our clients.”

Jokha agrees. “Think about how to make your creations work commercially,” she advises. “It’s good to have a style that is unique and adaptable, as we consider the commercial aspect of a creative when we board them. This will help us find you customers and companies that fit your aesthetics, as well. increase your success. “

6. Be creative with your submission (but make it unique)

We have talked about the importance of following the proper submission process. That said, sometimes you can get away with breaking the rules … as long as you produce something truly amazing.

“Obviously, every now and then we have someone who takes a more ‘creative’ approach to contacting us,” says Jon. “We’ve been sent bespoke artwork, drawings of Hendrix, our dog, custom objects, even a pair of pants once. I have to admit, I love it when someone pulls out the stops and sends us something original with a little more thought. It means not that we want to sign them, but it will definitely get our attention. “

Oliver makes another bid on this. “At Oskar Illustration, we get a lot of email submissions, so it can be nice to receive something visual about the person, like a short distance to the camera,” he says. “Here we are as interested in the person as we are in the work. We are building what we call the Oi! Family, where our artists can share, learn, guide and collaborate. So a video that tells us a little bit more about “Who you are, what your values ​​are, and what makes you tick off would be a real bonus.”

Solange by Tuccii Tuccii.  Greetings from the artist and ArtPaths



Solange by Tuccii Tuccii. Greetings from the artist and ArtPaths

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