Q&A illustration agencies

Hi everyone it’s been a while since I post on my blog. This time I wanted to do something different, recently an illustrator contacted me on Instagram asking about my experience in agencies and representation.

Like him, two years ago I was looking for one and it was hard to find any type of information from real illustrators. So I decided to make a Q&A and I will be more than happy to answer more questions in the comments.


Do I recommend to have an agency?

Depends in a lot of reasons.

  • You are a well known illustrator and you have your own clients, maybe it’s not necessary to have one.
  • If you are starting and don’t have a lot of clients, this will be perfect oportunity for you.
  • You don’t want get involved in contracts, invoices, negotiations, having a agent will help you.
  • If you would like to expand your work in more countries, would be a great opportunity to contact an agency that will help you reach those goals.

What do they look in a portfolio?

In my experience they are looking your own way to do things. I think the success for a good portfolio is your own voice connected with your illustrations.

  • Show what are the things you are passionate about.
  • Play with a lot of color palette, break your own rules.
  • Play with diversity of characteres (Ethnicities, likes, hobbies, sizes, disabilities).
  • Play with scenaries (Park, cities, snow, summer, your own city).
  • Play with fantasy (Dragons, dreams, trips).
  • Play with anymals doing human activities. 
  • Add your own themes.

How do I prepared my portfolio?

  • You can create your own website.
  • You can create a behance page.
  • You also can create a PDF.

In a lot of agencies websites, they will tell you how do you need to send yout portfolio. 

What do I include in my portfolio?

  • Personal Bio or description about you. Add something out of the illustration world (example: I love baking and I enjoy Friday’s of dessert at my house).
  • Put your most representative’s work.
  • Don’t add the whole process of making one illustration.
  • Make it simple.
  • Good quality of files or photos.
  • Make muck-ups if its neccesary. 

How do we approach these agencies? 

  1. Make a list: I love having everything organize, plus I love making lists. I create this list of agencies based of the people I followed on intagram. One thing that you need to know it’s that illustrators that work with an agency they need to put on their website or profile that they work with an agency. So this make it super easy to make a data base of agencies, it’s a lot out there, in the more you dig into it your list will expand and expand. 
  2. Add on your list (requirements, emails, phones).
  3. Think about the best fit for you. The idea is looking for a few that you like. The ones you think your style will fit well. (Are agencyes more towards comic, advertisement or greeting cards design) So pick well.  
  4. Make an email draft. Include presentation of yourself, why you thought of them, end will a call to action, add your portfolio).
  5. Wait for an answer. 🙂 

What is the process when they contacted me back?

  • They will send you a welcome email.
  • They will send you a contract and they will tell you to take your time.
  • Normally you will enter on a probational period for 6 months. Where they can decide after or during that time if you still are a good fit for them. 
  • Having an agency doesn’t guarantee you will work with big clients right away. Remember is a process.   

Do you need to work exclusively for them?

No necessarily. It depens on the contract you agreed.
In my case I am from Colombia, and I can have any client in Latin America without the agency. But in the rest of the world I exclusively work with them.

What does that mean? When a client from US contact me, I need to tell them I worked with an agency and that we will work through them.

That is why is important to read well your contract. Don’t be afraid of making suggestions or asking questions to your agent.

Do they ask for a fee?

Yes, they work for the benefit of both parties so they need to get pay. They normally are in charge of promoting your work, look for clients, making invoices and negotiating.

  • You share a porcentage of each contract (Normally 30% to 35%.).
  • They pay normally after 30 days of the day you finish the project.

¿Do you need to know English?

Not necessarily but eventually it will help a lot.

I think you can use translator to answer your emails with clients and your agent. But maybe in the future, with a big client they want you to talk to them, about ideas for a book and there is where you need to be able to talk. Plus it will help a lot to talk to any other language than your own native one.

Links and resources

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