Getting An Agent

Here’s our guide to landing that big time agent:

These days it’s easier than ever to get into illustration BUT these days it’s also HARDER than ever to get into illustration. What do we mean by this, well, it’s simple really. Today it’s much easier than it has ever been to get into the illustration business because we are easily able to “set up shop” almost anywhere. If you own an iPad and have sufficient talent you can begin scribbling almost anywhere. With all that said, there is more illustration talent out there than ever before and with all that competition there is more difficulty in ensuring that your artwork gets noticed.

To help you get through the minefield that can be self promo we have put together a starters guide on how to get your work noticed by the right people in the industry. 

As a starting point you need to ensure that your portfolio is up to scratch, there are various organisations such as the AOI and others that can critique your work and help you make sure your portfolio is heading in the right direction, at a price, organisations like this usually aren’t free to join and as a starting commercial artist you will need to save your pennies but one of the key starting points for your work should be trying to find that niche that your artwork can fit into. By looking around and seeing what other artists out there are doing you can see where your work might fit into a gap in the market, after all, if there are other practicing artists with your style who are already in this field professionally chances are they have plenty of contacts and know their way around the business. Instead, although difficult, it can be more fruitful if you can try to find your own individual “style” of artwork. Many art buyers and directors are on the lookout for something interesting and different. Almost everyone likes work that stands out from the crowd and has that “edge” to it.

On the assumption that your work is all in order though and you are ready to hit the commercial art world with your work one great starting point can be trying to look for an agent. Although there are many agents out there some are better than others and finding a good one can be the difference between big success and no better than going it alone, in fact, having the wrong agent can actually be more detrimental to your success than going it alone after all you are putting your trust and your career in the hands of your agent and it is sometimes a leap of faith without fully knowing what you are doing. So, you are probably thinking, how do I actually get an agent?.. Well, one of the best ways to get an agent is by doing a good old fashioned search via Google but don’t stop at that, have a look at how your agent promotes themselves, are they on Instagram, are they on Pinterest, do they keep an up to date blog? All things to consider when getting someone else to promote you and although social media isn’t the be all and end all it’s a good barometer as to the healthy direction of the agent in question. So, once you have found an agent that ticks all the necessary boxes for you what next?.. 

Well, once contacts have been found its advisable to take a look at the artists they already represent also see whether they specialise in your type of work or not. Some will specialise in certain media such as traditional or digital and although its good to have an original style of work it is impossible to have a completely unique medium entirely to work in, watercolour, pastel, pen and ink and everything in between have been taken!

Once you have found an agency that seems to deal with the kind of work that you create it’s a good idea to try to shortlist a selection of your best artwork for submission, often an agent will stipulate the method of submission that they prefer but as a rule of thumb around five to ten of your best images is usually most desirable.

Once you have a selection of pieces the next step is to make contact with the agents that you are interested seeking representation with and we use the plural agents, as its highly unlikely that if you contact just one, your work will be accepted immediately, although not impossible if your work is truly outstanding and original. 

We would always recommend initially calling an agent to try to establish an initial foothold and show you are keen. Once in communication you can ask them any relevant questions that you may have and find out whether they are accepting submissions at this time. On the assumption that they are it is important to demonstrate professionalism by following your call by promptly sending the work you have shortlisted for them. Allow them several weeks to respond to your submission and although it may be tempting to want to follow up shortly afterwards it is far better to be patient and wait. Agents, at least the good ones, tend to be busy people and the last thing they want is to be pestered. Yes it is tempting but I would strongly advise waiting if possible.

So what are you waiting for, get out there, find that agent (if that’s right for you) and start reeling in those big commissions. Good luck!

To help you on your way and save you some legwork we’ve also added a list of agents in the UK ( in no particular order):