Illustration by Dan Woodger, represented by Jelly London
Unlike you, I was a terrible illustrator, a worse designer and a fairly average creative. But, I’m good at the business bits. In order to make a living in the creative industries I became a facilitator of sorts – and surrounded myself with people more talented than me. Setting up a Creative Studio to represent and look after creative talent seemed to me to be a fairly logical step. A necessity almost. Hence eventually, Jelly was born.
So, what exactly do we do all day?
We market and promote talent, relentlessly. Whilst our illustrators are spending their working days creating great art (hopefully), we are spending ours pushing for you to get more. Showing portfolios, arranging Agency meetings, Networking, flying to other cities, creating Web pages, Instagram posts, Tweets, Pinterest pages. Even launching new offices and services to grab clients’ attention if we can afford it.
This means that, while we are not so good at the illustration (that’s our illustrators’ job) we are pretty experienced with the other areas – and I’d like to share some insights on those areas;
“To be a good negotiator you need experience, confidence and people skills.”
We’ve got lots of that – and we can also be bad cops, so that you don’t need to feel that you are being confrontational or awkward.
Of course one very rarely needs to be confrontational but in my experience it’s good to have that ‘in your locker’ if you need it. Unrepresented illustrators can have the same back up by being a member of the AOI – in fact there are times where we remind Clients of the Code of Conduct and it works a treat.
“Keep the AOI and industry standards up your sleeve!”
Yes, we will take a percentage of the fee (have you seen my overheads?!). But normally we will be the ones to ensure that you end up with the amount that you deserve at the end of the negotiation.
Looking after your rights.
It’s been said many times by people far more qualified than me:
“Illustration is not a hobby. You have rights.”
Agents know those rights very, very well and we will do our utmost to protect them. The AOI uphold those rights – and fight for them when they are threatened. That is the single most important thing they can do for all of us.
We will make sure that your rights are ring-fenced, paid for and enforced, that’s why clients will sometimes try and sneak round to you directly and avoid going through us, because they know that we know our stuff.
I know that not every Agent does this but at Jelly, it’s in our DNA, so we would rather wrangle, hassle and cajole clients into getting sign-off, feedback, the reference and purchase orders that you need rather than leave you swinging in the wind trying to do that yourself.
“Managing a commission – especially larger ones – is a skill in itself and you should always be aware of the time and attention that it will take.”
You can be the best illustrator out but if you are missing deadlines and forgetting to invoice, you aren’t going to get much work. Again, the AOI have some fantastic resources about this – take the time to hone those skills as much as you do your creative work (or find a great agent with ready-honed skills!)
Need to work with an animator? Designer? Hand-lettering artist? Sculptor? No problem, we will hook you up with the right one and introduce you, we will project manage this too if you need us too.
Of course, you might not want help with all of these things. That’s fine, you can do some of them yourself if you want to – just let your Agent know so that they can talk about it to potential clients and collaborators.
And of course you might not want help with any of those things. In that case, don’t have an Agent! Go out there and do it yourself, or do what we did, set up your own thing and surround yourself with other great people who can help you. It’s fantastic, you’ll love it.
“But whatever you do, be relentless, be positive and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.”
The great thing about the world that we inhabit, is that it’s full of really helpful people, even the ones that you consider to be your rivals, will gladly lend you a hand.
And whether you have an agent or not, in my experience the AOI are great, they represent everything that is admirable and positive about what we want illustration to achieve – and now perhaps more than ever that’s a very, very good thing.