My experience with agencies so far.

My experience with agencies so far or how I shouldn't midnight ramble.

My portfolio on Hire an Illustrator. Soon to be taken down later this week.

You open up any "how to" freelance illustrator books (I have several) or look on the web for any guides they always say the same thing. "Find an agent." Sounds easy enough.

But it's not.

It's really hard.

Like, really hard.

Unless you are a beautifully talented person who already has developed a good process and a beautiful distinctive style, or maybe a good hand full of impressive well known clients, it's really hard to find an agent and/or an agency to represent you.

At the start of the year I signed up to the AOI. In hoping they would put me on the right track. Don't get me wrong, they were really helpful. They provided me with tons of reading material, I was able to call them up and get one-on-one handling and bimonthly newsletters.
One of the main things they did were offer portfolio reviews. That being you had to travel to London in person (or send them a CD/portfolio and talk it over the phone) but I never did this. I had no money to go to London and too terrified to use the phone. I would rather had been able to talk and discuss with them in person.

I missed out a lot on them because of that. My fault really.

I hadn't given up yet. I'm still a fresh faced graduate. I applied to over 15 agencies I found online, through freelancer books, the Artists & Writers handbook, referrals, so on.
I had bought a website, I spruced it up. Chose my best pieces that could be used in projects or attract potential clients and submitted my applications to all those agencies.

Out of all 15, only one had the courteously to reply back and tell me "you're not our style in what we look for in our illustrators." Trying to reply back to ask "what were they looking for," or "what could I change, do you think I could adapt," were unanswered.

I felt pretty shitty. I felt that my style was basically a terrible graduate with awful manga influences and I wouldn't be going anywhere. I had no money, no job, benefits were slowly killing me and the only agencies left were paying ones.

Artists, who wish to be represented had to pay the agencies who would then take more cut of any work.

I don- wha, but-?

Creative industry is messed up so much. In my opinion. I find it so weird and confusing (specially regarding being paid in exposure).

I searched around the agencies that would have a good deal for what they do. Some were outrageous, wanting several hundred dollars/pounds just to have your portfolio on their site, nothing else. I had a friend recently on twitter say he was approached to be represented by an agency, only if he paid to be represented by them. They were professional but jeez come on.

I settled and found Hire an Illustrator, they're pretty well known in the UK and US and their subscription was cheap to set up a portfolio with them. It was okay but one of the drawbacks was you had to pay extra to get them to contact clients and other agencies. they offered a postcard/print service where they would send your work to clients for £200.
I don't have that kind of money. I was struggling to keep up with the subscription Though I will mention they are incredibly kind and gave me a month free payment (which was wonderful of them for understanding my situation) but I had to give it up. After several months it was going nowhere and my small savings were just getting smaller and I needed to save it for better things. It was a good experience but something I couldn't keep going.
Maybe when I get a part time job or get a few good clients on my list then I'll consider trying to find and agent again. But until then I'll just go by the motion of posting everywhere.

Being accessible and posting my art everywhere. To be seen, and improve.

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