Should I get an illustration agent?

Tue 1 Dec 2020

If you’re considering a career as a freelance illustrator, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to find an agent or go it alone. Here are some of the important factors to take into consideration.

What does an agent do?

Illustration agents work on behalf of illustrators to promote their work and undertake some of the more tedious administrative tasks. An agent’s primary job is to connect illustrators with clients, but they also negotiate fees and contracts, deal with invoicing and chasing late payments, and provide valuable industry insight and feedback.

What are the advantages of having an illustration agent?

Some of the advantages of signing with an agent include:

  • Valuable introductions to a wide range of clients.
  • Familiarity with contracts and rates of pay – agents will often be able to negotiate higher fees on your behalf.
  • Less paperwork – as a freelance illustrator, much of your time will be taken up with writing invoices and negotiating contracts. If you have an agent, you can spend more of your time doing the part of your job that you enjoy – the actual illustration.
  • Industry advice and insight – a good agent will know where to pitch your work, which clients pay the best rates, how you can improve your portfolio, and when you are being treated unfairly or when clients are asking too much.

Are there any disadvantages?

The biggest disadvantage to having an agent is the cost – it is not uncommon for an illustration agent to take upwards of 25% commission, which is a big chunk of your earnings. Some other disadvantages include:

  • Internal competition – you’re not the only illustrator your agent represents, so they aren’t focused specifically on you and your career. As long as one of their clients is commissioned to do a project the agent makes a profit.
  • Although an agent can take care of your paperwork, you will still be personally responsible for double checking everything they do – there’s no escaping those tedious contracts.

How do I find an agent?

Finding an agent can be tricky – agencies receive hundreds of submissions every week and can afford to be selective about who they represent. Find an agency that suits your creative style and make sure you follow their submission guidelines to the letter. Don’t send a bulk email to multiple agencies; make sure you tailor your application to each individual agency. Make sure your portfolio is up to a professional standard before you start looking for agency representation – you can find more information about building a portfolio here.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in freelance illustration, publishing, creative advertising, graphic design, animation, web design, or art direction, an MA in Illustration from Falmouth Flexible can help you develop a comprehensive portfolio and accelerate your career path. 

Discover more:

How to build your illustration portfolio

How to build a freelance illustration career

5 most influential illustrators of all time

Illustration, Blog

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