Stephanie Alexander-Jinks – Director / Agent
Illustration by Debbie Powell
As a small group, representing your illustrators of The Artworks, you focus on working with graduates to develop their potential. How did this idea come about and do you often represent these members of ‘Startworks’ in your agency?
Working with graduates is a small part of what we do (we take on 1 or 2 graduates a year max) but it’s a very important part. The idea was started many years ago to give graduates support and nurture them so that they can make the transition from college to the working world of illustration. It’s very difficult for some people and quite daunting and I think many talented illustrators are lost to the lack of information and support that is needed to make this transition. The statistics of Illustrator graduates finding their way to become working illustrators are not great. Our clients trust our judgement and as we are such a small group if we have selected a graduate it’s good enough for them to have our endorsement and for them to work on jobs with no previous experience. We provide the support to make up for the experience they lack. Like anything like this it doesn’t always work out, not everyone likes being an illustrator once they try it and sometimes artists don’t fulfil their side of the relationship as there is a LOT of work to do once you Graduate and sometimes being taken on straight away gives the impression that their work is done and it’s up to us. It doesn’t work like that! We always try to explain to people that this is just the beginning with or without commissions. It’s the only way forward. Those Startworkers that listen to us and work hard always have great success with us it’s quite simple really.
Illustration by Lucy Davey
How, initially, should illustrators approach The Artworks?
Sending an email to our firstname.lastname@example.org with a few low res Jpegs or web link. We do still receive printed samples but it’s really what suits the illustrator.
Illustration by Matthew Cook
When an illustrator approaches The Artworks, what are the first three factors that you look for?
Drawing skills drawing skills and more drawing skills. This is the fundamental skill which if isn’t there causes jobs to go wrong! After that we look for strong original style that doesn’t cross over with anyone we already represent. It’s very important to us that each artist doesn’t have to compete within the agency. We also look for professionalism and willingness to work with us.
The Artworks Office
How important do you feel an illustrators personal work is to their professional?
Just as important, it doesn’t pay the bills but if you don’t keep bringing your work back to where you want it to go it can sometimes go off so far in one direction that it’s difficult to get it back. It’s not always easy to find the time and we are realistic that artists will need to take paid work and devote their time to that as a priority but it is important creatively and good to do it if you can. Some artists are lucky enough to have the freedom to experiment within their own commissions but you have to have the right style to get away with that!
Illustration by Tom Clohosy Cole
Do you still find a certain value within showing clients a physical portfolio, or do you take the digital route?
We always show printed ones – that’s one of the many good things about being with a small Agency, your folios get shown at every meeting (provided it’s relevant) and all the folios are gorgeously looked after and presented. Clients don’t like looking at tablets and laptops, they can do that themselves at their desks. If you are there in person, give them a reason for that. It allows you to bring something extra and it works very well as do cakes. But we are also well aware that digital promotion is the main way we promote our artists with social media and websites. It’s just good to do both we find.
The Artworks Office
What would you advise for illustrators who are looking to join an Illustration agency?
I do believe that having representation is the best thing for any artist but it doesn’t suit everyone. If you know anyone that has an agent ask them about it. When you are searching look thoroughly at the website of the Agency and the kind of jobs and artist they represent, there are so many brilliant ones but they are all very different so there will be probably only a handful that are right for you. There is no point sending things to every single one. The more time you invest in looking into the different ones the more likely you will find one that takes you on. If you don’t have luck in the UK think about US or Europe to get started, there are some brilliant ones all over the world.