How to Find an Art Rep


Are you looking for an Art Rep?

You may discover that the search for an art rep shares a lot of similarities with the search for clients.  This makes perfect sense, because what you’re looking for is someone to do the hunting for you.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Narrow Your Focus

Before you start contacting every art rep in sight, it’s important to determine which ones are operating in your target market, otherwise you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and energy (both yours and the agents’) by embarking on a wild goose chase.  Some art reps specialize in Children’s Books, some focus solely on Editorial Illustration, and some may concentrate on specific styles or media.

Despite what some may think, the buckshot approach simply won’t work.  If your style and desired field of Illustration don’t mesh with the expertise and focus of the art rep you’ve contacted, they most likely won’t even bother responding.  If they do respond, it’s actually a good sign that the agent doesn’t specialize in any particular field, which can dilute their efforts to find you relevant work.

Some key things to look for are the market that the agent focuses on, as well as the style and level of talent of some of the other artists they represent.  You can get a good idea about these factors just by visiting the agents’ website and looking through their About page and the Illustrators’ portfolios.

Do a Quality Check

In addition to narrowing your focus to suit your desired market, you should also try to determine the quality of service that the art rep provides.  While this can be difficult to do at first glance, it should be relatively easy to weed out the ones you want nothing to do with if you follow your instincts.

For example, if an agent represents artists of low quality, your association with them will serve to devalue your own work.  In addition, an agency that works with too large a list of Illustrators, you are less likely to get the one-on-one attention that you deserve, which will defeat the purpose of working with an art rep to begin with.  What you want is a representative that you can be proud to work with, and who has enough room in their business to help you succeed.

Keep in mind that an art rep should impress you just as much as you want to impress them, because what you’re seeking is a mutually beneficial relationship, and you’re going to need them to impress potential clients as well.

Check References

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to a more select group of potential art reps, one of the best steps that you can take is to contact the other artists who are being represented by them.  By reaching out in this way, you can find out how much work the agent secures for them, what their commission is, how they work, how promptly they pay, what responsibilities fall on the artist, and any other pertinent information to help you make your decision.

You may also consider contacting some of the clients that the art reps works with in order to get an idea of the impression that they make in the industry.

Making Contact

Now that you’ve found a workable group of artist representatives you’d like to contact, make sure your portfolio is up to par, select a few of your best and most relevant images to send, and take the time to put together a professional, straightforward letter of inquiry.  The idea at this point is to make the best first impression that you can, just like when contacting potential clients.

Also, it’s a good idea to present an open-ended inquiry.  In other words, try to approach them with an interest in starting a dialogue, rather than asking them the yes/no question of “Would you like to represent me?”

In Episode 6 of the EFII Podcast, Illustrator Penny Dullaghan talks about how she initiated contact with art reps by requesting a critique of her work.  In fact, she didn’t even mention the possibility of working with them in her first email.

Following Through

If you’ve found one or more art reps that you’d like to work with, try to follow up on your initial contact by sending updates on your new work at regular intervals.  You don’t want to overdue it by harassing them every week, but you do want to try and build relationships with them and stay on their radar, because even if they don’t see your potential at first, your work may soon reach a level that they think they can successfully promote.  (To hear how some other Illustrators have used this approach, listen to Episode 6 of the EFII Podcast with Penny Dullaghan, as well as Episode 14 with Holli Conger.)

What’s your experience? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.

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Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at
Thomas James

Posted by Thomas James on 03/26/14 under business
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