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.


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