June 30, 2010

The Dos and Don’ts of Approaching a Rep

A couple of days ago, a young man showed up at our office unannounced and introduced himself as an illustrator in need of a rep. Obviously we were caught off guard. Being a relatively polite fellow I advised him that this was not a good time for us, nor the best way to get my attention. He said that he was in the neighborhood and just wanted to drop by, say hello and introduce himself… but he had neither a card nor portfolio with him at the time. What’s wrong with this picture? Well, red flags went up all over the place.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for an artist seeking representation:

1) Don’t show up unannounced. We’re quite busy most of the time working with and for our artists and if we were to meet a new artist one would need to schedule a time.

2) Do your homework. Before you contact a rep, look carefully at their website. In my case, this would be both Richard Solomon Artists Rep and Art on a Grand Scale… Why? Because the artist needs to be familiar with the type of artists that we represent, stylistically, be they illustrative or (in the case of AOGS) encompassing the world of fine art.

3) Glean as much information as you can about the rep you are approaching as well. In this business, top reps have lots of anecdotal info out there and you can put together a picture of the person that you want to meet through his or her blogs, twitters, facebook pages, etc.

4) When you’ve done this, tailor an email with targeted attachments of your work. Include a bio and clients that you may have worked for and/or awards you may have won.

5) If you have a style that is already represented in the reps’ group, don’t take it too personally if they turn you down. For example in my case I have five scratchboard artists, so I would not be able to represent another to the full extent they deserve.

6) On the other hand, do see if you have a style that melds nicely with the artists that we already represent. Like most reps, I have a "look" and it will become obvious to you when looking at the artists I represent. If you stick out like a sore thumb the chances of being included are minimal.

7) Don’t go on endlessly with a curriculum vitae that includes jobs you’ve had… nobody cares that you were a lifeguard or that you worked in Peace Core. We’re really interested in quality craftsmanship and the vision of your art.

8) Only send three to five of your best samples, and make sure they have a sense of consistency to them. We do not want to see your entire portfolio. If your style has matured and the way you approach problems is consistent, we should only need a very few pieces to make a judgment on your portfolio... and these are exactly the kind of artists we are looking for.

9) Never send roughs. They don’t give us a proper insight into you artistic and illustrative capabilities. If you are a terrific figurative artist, I don’t mind seeing one or two nudes, but don’t make it a habit. Hopefully the projects, be they your best school assignments or jobs, have a potential relationship to the possibility of getting new work. My mantra has always been “What problem does this solve?”, and that’s the key to getting work.

10) When waiting for a reply, don’t worry if we don’t respond immediately. Be persistent but don't be unrealistic. Reps are very busy people and their priorities are centered around the artists they represent.

Unfortunately only 1 in 1000 make it in this business… it’s about perseverance, having a signature style, being dogged and continuing to develop with or without an agent. Remember, an agent can’t make you a star: he can only bring out he star quality that is inside of you.

Jason Seiler, Retro Style

Click here to see Jason Seiler's response to his latest tight deadline.

June 11, 2010

Illustrators Roll With The Green Wave

Last friday my staff and I were invited to the opening of the Society of Illustrators, EARTH: Fragile Planet. As the Society of Illustrators press release explains, it is “a nine week exhibit showcasing 120 of the world’s most accomplished illustrators giving them a forum to set forth their personal views about the state of the world and the environment. Divided into five categories: earth, energy, air, water, and wildlife, the exhibit consists of multi-media works including original art in both traditional and digital medium, video, 3D, and comics.”

The quality of the work was truly an eye opener. I've been to a lot of openings at the Society, and a lot of award shows, but this showcased a truly high level of artistic technique wedded to inventive conceptual subject matter. As an agent I'm always looking to see how an artist blends craftsmanship and an ability to think through a problem, and you could tell that the artists who participated put their heart and soul behind their individual projects. I noted that many of the projects were new, but some were from the artists archives. Be that as it may, they all represented a targeted and insightful commentary on the environment.

I have picked out a few examples which in my opinion answer the call. Even though Rudy Guterriez is an artist that I represent I can't help but include him. I did two or three passes of the show and I kept coming back to Rudy's piece. It was so powerful and inventive. Kudos as well to my buddy Greg Manchess, who (as always) gave 110%, and who curated this perfect show.

I urge all artists passing through New York in the next eight weeks to get over to the show. It's a treat for the eyes and the mind. To quote again; "The Society hopes that through this exhibit the field of illustration will help contribute to social and ecological consciousness. The goal of illustration is to elicit an emotional response from the viewer that will change the way they see the world and hopefully inspire some to become more active in effecting change for a better world. This project will reach out to a varied community of students, educators, artists and the public at large. With such powerful and inspiring art, the Society hopes to build awareness, bring people to action and help make a difference."

Jason Seiler, CG Arena

Jason Seiler was interviewed in the June/July issue of CG Arena... but you can read it on his blog as well!

June 10, 2010


This weeks' Featured Illustrator is Tyler Jacobson

Lost and Found

When Murray Kimber found himself stranded overnight in the mountains while on a bike trip in Oaxaca, Mexico, he knew there would be an upside. Kimber found the silver lining by generating the mishap into an article he wrote and illustrated for Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine. "I pitched the editors the idea of a group of foreigners living in Mexico, in love with biking and driven to a fault by wanderlust. But I wanted to write the article." The editors embraced to Kimber’s idea, resulting in his first writing credit.

Murray wishes to pursue other writing/art assignments, believing he can offer editors a unique product. "I think an artist who can also write brings a magazine a complete editorial package," he says. "Particularly if I am generating my own story ideas."

The summer issue of Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine is available as of June 7th, and online at www.kmcmag.com

June 3, 2010

Dangerous Changes

This week's featured illustrator is Goni Montes

I left my Art in San Francisco

For the last few years I’ve been invited every May to review the graduating undergraduate and MFA work from the illustration department of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. The various departments organize the annual spring show for the 18 separate art schools… quite an undertaking. I am one of approximately 1000 industry pros that converge on San Francisco for a few days to interact with the students, review portfolios and give professional career advice. What I admire about the Academy of Art is their interest in their students’ careers in the world of art. This is one of the few schools I have visited that spends time, effort, and money in prepping their students for the future.

Adam Dennis and Me

I must have done at least 50 portfolio reviews and saw a truly high caliber of work. But one artist I’d like to single out for praise this year is Adam Dennis. I would consider him a decorative artist, and he truly has his act together. He’s already gotten work in the area of product design with various watches and wakeboards. What I liked about his work was that it was consistent, he’s already developed what I call a signature style. I think he’s on the threshold, if he hasn’t already broken through as a pro. As opposed to many young artists he has a focus and he sees the applicability of his particular style for a legitimate market. He also has put in time and effort into his marketing, promotion, and website, which are all needed for an artist to make it.

Art of Adam Dennis

While I was in the bay area I got the chance to meet with several of my artists, including John Mattos and Owen Smith. I’m also delighted to report I had a meeting with my newest artist, Jon Wayshak, a brilliant and edgy graphic novel/comic artist. He was recommended to me by my good friend Barron Storey, who knows a thing or two about the world of the graphic novel.

I was also able to spend time with Akane Ogura, who will be joining my office in July as my newest intern. Others who I was able to connect with with were Alexa Scott, of the Workbook, and Kazu Sano, an artist whom I’ve always admired. And a trip to the bay area would never be complete without good food, long walks, hanging out, and a visit to the Asian Museum. (I indulged my habit and bought an Indonesian and Burmese puppet, which I added to my growing collection. ) I rounded out the trip by going with my artist John Mattos to Fantasy Junction, the classic car emporium to beat all. I saw some really cool cars as I always do, and had a hard time going back to the real world.

Me, Kazu Sano, Akane and her Mother