March 26, 2010

The Rep Talent Relationship

This was the third year that I was invited to Mirko Ilic’s grad-student Illustration class at SVA. As in the past I first gave the overview of my career as an illustration agent and used examples of artists that I have worked with from our website. It was helpful to have sequential process shot of several jobs to reference. My associate, Michael Mrak, and I talked for several hours and answered many questions. I believe the topic of most interest to Mirko’s students as the relationship between a rep and an artist. How it develops and what are the ground rules, why one would have a rep instead of going alone etc. We tried as best we could to answer all of the questions.

To sum up briefly what I said: all agents have passions and lean towards certain types of art. I’m no different. When I’m looking for new talent, be he or she young or a veteran, I want to see great drawing skills within a context of a signature style. Once I see a body of work that is consistent and I feel is applicable in the market place, I begin to think seriously about the possibility of forming a relationship with that artist. I explain to the artist that we’re not miracle workers but we can mentor and work with an artist to target the work to the proper client base through an advertising and promotional campaign using all the electronic media available including our website. Blasts, the workbook, the ispot, behence and other online portfolio sites, and individual targeted promotions. The cost to an individual artist is reduced substanculy because of the ability to be part of a group and I believe that artist benefits from being with a well-known and prestigious artists.

I explained to them that we are responsible for negotiating billing, being strong advocates if there are problems during the process, collecting and dispersing monies and most importantly, guiding the artist to reach his or her full potential.

A rep-talent relationship is valuable to both parties because it allows the artist to focus on what’s important to them, while I deal with the business side of the equation. One of the benefits of having an agent is that we are somewhat removed from the emotional attachment that an artist has to valuing his work. Also, an artist tends to be reluctant to be confrontational with a client, but an agent can negotiate from strength. In short, a rep is subjective while an artist is objective.

And this frees up time for the artist to do what they do best, which is create great imagery.

I also mentioned that we have a mentor/intern program in which we are capable of taking 3-5 student artists per semester and helping them see what really goes on in the “business of art.” I pointed out that many of the questions that they didn’t have time to ask may be answered on my blog.

I really enjoy these give and take sessions. Not only do I learn a hell of a lot but it’s my way of giving back to a business that has been very good to me. Have PowerPoint, will travel.

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