Fig Taylor considers the pros and cons of having an agent – and what you should look for to get the right match.
There are as many sound reasons for wanting an agent as there are for choosing to rep yourself. There are also a ton of myths about agents, so make sure your reasons are rooted in fact rather than fiction. To get you started, here are some things that agents are not:
• Easy to come by, particularly if you’ve only just graduated.
• A means to avoid having any dealings with the industry yourself, again particularly if you’ve only just graduated.
• A fast track to instant success.
• A guarantee of a steady flow of work, let alone from the get-go.
• A license to stop working on your portfolio.
Of course, many illustrators can, and do, benefit immensely from having an agent and most agencies wouldn’t take an illustrator on unless they believed they could put them on the map. But it’s a two-way street; you and your agent are partners working to the mutual benefit of your career.
You will need to be sure in your mind what kind of a career you want as that will be key to finding the right agent for your needs – because something else agents aren’t is interchangeable; they can vary in myriad ways. For this reason many agents recommend rookie illustrators go the freelance route for a while to gain industry experience and establish professional and stylistic direction.