Sam Summerskill – Illustration, Motion & Experiential Agent for Bernstein and Andruilli.
How do you source your illustrators?
I have an extensive bookmark list of illustrators/artists/creatives/image makers who I check in on regularly. Every morning I check my 10 favourite blogs to see what is happening in the creative world, as well as our Tumblr <http://bareps-eu.tumblr.com/> where I follow people I find interesting. From experience we have usually approached the illustrators we represent, although a good chunk come in from recommendations of clients or other friends. I also try to attend as many private views as possible and keep any bridges I have with creatives unburnt, as you never know what may happen in the future.
â€¨How, initially, should illustrators approach your agency?
A personal email, with a link to an uncluttered and clear website where it is instantly obvious of what you can do/like to do is key. I would be a billionaire if I were given a pound for every copy and paste email I have received where it is clear that the artist has essentially mailed every agent under the sun. It takes 5/10 minutes to write a fresh email to someone so make sure you’re mailing the right agent for you as if it works out you will be spending a lot of time with them. Research the other artists already represented and pick maybe 3 agents that you find most inspiring as far as their roster goes. Meet with them face to face and go with your gut instinct. Your first reaction is probably the right one.â€¨
How do you feel the agent and artist relationship works best?
Communication. The artists who keep in touch with their agent both on a personal level and a professional one get the most out of their agent. Updating your agent with new works, or experiments to get a dialogue going helps the agent understand you and your work more making it easier for them to be able to place you creatively with projects. Agents are also in the unique position of being able to help art direct/help you understand the current marketplace as it is out job to be out and knowing what the commissioning community are looking for. Agents are also excellent agony aunts ;)â€¨â€¨â€¨
What are the first three things you do when a commissioner approaches you for an illustrator?
1. Read the enquiry carefully.
â€¨2. Call the commissioner to find out if there is any more information available and make suitable suggestions verbally.â€¨
3. Talk to the illustrator.
How do you feel the landscape of commissioning is changing?
The editorial market hasn’t changed much financially since I have been an agent (12 years) other than contracts getting harsh and more rights led. On a positive note though it would seem some of the magazine publishers have realised that the talent are saying no to full rights now so most have relaxed those clauses somewhat. Editorial work is very important for all illustrators as it’s an opportunity to sharpen your mind a little with a fast turnaround, and usually very topical, brief. Editorial work also tends to allow for more creative expression, and although the fee may be low the work is potentially valuable in the long run. Something very interesting (and a lot of fun) is that I have found that we are being brought in much earlier on projects to discuss concepts and ideas. This past 6 months I have been working a LOT more in the expanded universe of what illustration would traditionally be deemed to be as being applicable for. Examples being installations, experiential activity, live art + technology development. I feel that commissioners are understanding that there is a new type of artist who is more of a polymath who can be called upon as an ideas generator/art director as much as for what their style dictates. This leads to new and exciting work for both parties.â€¨â€¨ â€¨
Who and what keeps you inspired in your practice?
â€¨The ability to work in a field, which I have always had a personal interest in is enough for me. On a daily basis I talk and work with inspiring people, whether they be commissioners or artists. There aren’t many industries such as ours where you can get true pleasure out of your art, seeing ideas realised through our talent in the knowledge that they are all living their dream job too is pretty inspiring it has to be said.