Head of Illustration Nicki Field shares advice for illustrators on how to develop their style, how to know if they truly need an agent & more…
As an illustrator, there will inevitably come a time in your career when you ask yourself “do I need an agent?”
There are many things to consider around this. Firstly, are you actually ready for one? How will your work hold out next to the myriad of other artists and styles on that agency’s books? Secondly, how do you go about getting an agent that’s right for you and how do you make sure your work stands out from the other hundreds of emails that will undoubtedly be filling the agency’s inbox? How do you develop your illustration style? How do you figure out your ‘niche’?
Nicki Field, Head of Illustration at Jelly has shared with us her answers and advice on all of the above and more.
How to know when you’re ready for an agent?
There are many reasons that artists will seek an agent. I would recommend that when beginning your search for an agent, you have to be really clear about why you want one. That way you will make sure you get the best out of the relationship and make sure you find the right fit. For example, do you already have a steady stream of clients and you’re looking mostly for support with project management and admin?? Or, is your main need gaining access to a wider pool of clients / wider promotion?? Or would you like to be a part of a team rather than working so solo?? Maybe you would like someone to help develop your work? Perhaps it’s a combination of all these things but being clear about what you’re looking for will really help your decision making.
This is a question we always ask artists at a first meeting, so that we can best determine the most effective way to work together. Of course as agents we’re always pushing and hustling for new work but that’s not the only thing a good agent should be doing for you.
It might not come together the year straight after you graduate – it could be five years in – or it could be whilst you study – it’s a hugely personal pathway to developing this and finding something that feels right. But in my experience there’s usually a tipping point when a body of work begins to make sense and feels unique to your hand. That’s what I always try to uncover in an Artists portfolio. The pieces that are truly them.
Keep at it and try different things. Get different opinions. It’s so hard to be objective about your own work. You might feel you have 25 random pieces but share with someone else and they may be able to connect the dots better than you can. Talk to lots of people and work hard at it. If you’re a bit of a chameleon then that’s okay too – we work alongside artists who have ownable individual styles, as well as Artists who are highly skilled at many styles. The route to approaching and gaining work will just be slightly different.
How to submit work to an illustration agency?
Some golden rules: