Vanessa Amianti – Assistant Art Director
Sebastiaan Van Doninck
You have worked with De Dominicis, acting as the Assistant Art Director, in which the landscape of commissioning has altered in time. Where do you see commissioning going within the next year?
Editorial market is changing, products are changing and so is the format. There are areas (also geographical) that are emerging and building instruments to be the protagonists in the world scenario. There are new big groups that are trying to build a strong image and count on artists who can represent it best. Although at the same time peculiarities are emerging too as some realities close and others unexpectedly re-open. So everything is evolving. In the next year I believe that multimedia market will gain more importance and many (also big) publishing groups, that still have difficulties in becoming acquainted with new languages, will be forced to take the field.
How do you source your illustrators at De Dominicis Creative Agency?
Everyday we receive submissions from artists and illustrators who want to collaborate and work with us and be represented by our Agency. The direct contact is an effectiveâ€¨way to find new talents, but it requires a huge work of selection because not all the proposals we receive are suitable for our standards. Among the submissions arrived, maybe one out of ten has the chance to join the Agency. Usually our Art Director Team analyses the market, the illustrators, the artists and the emerging styles. If we find someone who draws our attention and seems to have the characteristics we search for, we contact him/her.
As illustration is ever changing, how do you maintain an upkeep of the sector with your illustrators?
The only way to understand illustration is doing it. Literally. An agent is not only a passive intermediary. She / he has to know the market, the editors, what is in and what is out, analyze books, catalogues, magazines, attend fairs, keep updated about the news from comics and animation world. But above all she / he has to be able to choose great illustrators, work with them, build projects and be an active part of international illustration scenario. And, of course, she / he should be able to glimpse what will be cool in the future and be a pioneer of it.
How, initially, should illustrators approach your agency?
A good way is sending a portfolio with their work, trying to keep it basic, uniform and clear. As Francesco Bongiorni, one of our illustrators, stated “Keep your portfolio simple”.
It is not important that it contains many images, this is not a show off of technical skills. It should tell who is the illustrator, what are his/her language and his/her graphic universe. Above all, it should show that he/she is able of keeping up a certain quality level and working under pressure on projects.
When an illustrator approaches your agency, what are the first three factors that you look for?
First of all we search for an illustrator who has his / her own personal universe, a way of seeing and interpreting the world that tells something about him / her, his / her culture and ideas. The universe has to be represented and supported by a style that should respect a certain quality level, be original and at the same time be in line with the market trends.â€¨
The second factor is that the artist should be professional, respect deadlines and goals and have a positive and collaborative approach to work. Often, as agents, we follow projects “in fore front” and work side by side with illustrators and editors to realise the project in the best way.
Last thing is that the artist should be a nice person. It may seem unnecessary but it is not so: illustration could be very stressful with its many urgent deadlines, last minute changes, emails, meetings … An illustrator should be able to maintain his / her congeniality and good mood to create the right atmosphere to work together.
Last but not least: in the Agency we all love cats and nature, so an illustrator who loves animals and has green fingers will be always welcome!
What and how do you feel the agent and artist relationship works best?
Honesty and correctness have to be at the base of every relationship, also in the one between agent and illustrator. This is a professional partnership based on mutual confidence that allows both to work best. It is also important to always maintain kindness, availability and a positive attitude to problem solving.
This is valid point both for our artists and the ones who write to us for the first time, hoping to become part of the team. We always try to answer all of the submissions but recently we are receiving so many the waiting time has increased.
What means do you use to promote your artists to new clients?
Besides our website, we use social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and recently also Behance for projects. We have also a Linkedin account and we are in contact with many publishing houses, magazines, webzines and galleries. We often start the contact via email and then we proceed with phone calls, Skype meetings and, if possible, meet people at fairs and other similar events.
We also update our blog weekly with articles, interviews, videos, thematic columns and create ad hoc pdfs and presentations based on clients we work with.
What would you advise for illustrators who are looking to join an Illustration agency to promote their work?
I’d suggest to analyse carefully the catalogues of publishing houses and/or magazines to see if their style could be suitable for the client they would like to approach. This prevents or reduces frustration that an artist experiments during his / her career and helps him / her focusing better on goals and understanding who he/she really is and what universe he / she expresses.
Always work to improve and never give up against difficulties. Hard working and optimism are the best means to succeed!