Agents for Change: Diversifying Illustration

The AOI is proud to join our agent peers in creating meaningful change in our industry.  

It is widely recognised that there is a problem around representation in the creative fields, which given the reach and consumption of its outputs has harmful effects on society, as well as missed opportunities for individual people and businesses. Agents for Change are taking action to address that, looking at their own rosters of artists but also using their position to demystify the industry and improve pathways into it. 

Spear-headed by Grand Matter, Agents for Change currently has 17 UK-based agencies plus the AOI on board, each committed to increasing diversity and making the industry more accessible and comprehensible through a range of actions. 

Illustration and the creative industry as a whole is gloriously varied with potential for incredibly fruitful careers and exciting opportunities, however to many people it remains impenetrable and mysterious. The reasons are ranging and nuanced, however by giving their time to provide accessible information, support and advice aimed at the right people, Agents for Change believe together they can start to make a difference. 

“The creative industry is difficult to fathom until you’re in it. There can be numerous barriers to overcome depending on your financial situation, where you live, the level of support from friends and family, not to mention the confidence and sense of belonging to really go for it. If we can begin addressing even one or two of these barriers we can start to make a difference, and build on that for years to come.”


Their current offering includes free portfolio review sessions open exclusively to those belonging to typically under-represented groups, honest and open Q&A events covering a range of topics, a series of published interviews with established creatives to share their journeys and inspire others, and a central directory of grants and other organisations that can help. They’re currently working on a school outreach plan, and a set of resources and guides about illustration and the surrounding creative industry to be released later this year. 

In addition, each year Agents for Change will conduct a survey of their collective rosters of artists to find out how diverse they are and identify areas for improvement as well as track progress. Collectively they represent 1154 artists, of which 348 artists completed this year’s survey. From those 49.9% identify as male, 49% female, 0.9% non-binary and 0.1% preferring not to disclose. 74.9% of those who completed the survey describe themselves as white, and 89.3% have received higher education. Just 2.6% consider themselves to be living with a disability, but of this number well over half describe this as having impacted their ability to work within the industry. The full results of the first survey can be found on their website. 

“One of the challenges we’ve faced is a lack of data currently available about the illustration industry in particular, and so we hope our yearly surveys will improve that picture along with clear goals to work towards.”


Find out more about Agents for Change and share the news with your peers!

31st March 2021

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