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Signing with an illustration rep… again

Bo-Peep

Signing with an illustration rep… again

This year I signed on with 3 in a Box to be my illustration rep.

Although I have had four reps throughout my career, this time however, the decision was well educated.
Signing with a rep can be a little nerve racking as one looks at the fact that you are giving a percentage of your income away on each project that is done through their representation. Early on I did not see the fairness of this or the real advantage of reps as I thought, given the time, I could walk in and secure these jobs. Not likely. And even if I did, what the hell should I charge?
This work most likely, one would not have come by without the efforts of one’s rep. They have the industry connections and the knowledge to quote the going rate for usage without any guess work (very important). They do this everyday, all day.
Many times the difference between the amount an artist devalues one’s work and what a rep would quote, would more than pay their fees. They also handle the billing and collections for the artist as well. I know I’m late in billing many a time.
Is it something one should consider early on in one’s career? If one was even able to obtain a rep (reps are picky). In my experience I don’t think so.
In the beginning of my career I had allowed my reps to direct me in a style that I had been learning. As I was quite excited with the process and initially enjoyed doing it, I mistakenly believed I would always enjoy the style, but inevitably It was not a proper representation of who I was as an artist. Once I learned and felt comfortable working in this style it began to lose it’s appeal to me. I started as an airbrush artist painting realism, which was the direction my rep at the time pushed. In all fairness to this rep, it was the style they felt most marketable at the time. I did get work in this style, and for some big names as well (an Orange Crush bottle with a starburst background and glistening condensation dripping down the bottle comes to mind). But because of me wanting to switch my focus, it was a hard sell to my rep who had been wanting a realist illustrator for their roster. Many a penny was spent on portfolios and printed materials which I felt was wasted as it promoted art I no longer wanted to pursue. The income had not caught up to the amount of investments I had made before switching styles…
My rep and I parted ways as our original agreement no longer was working for either of us.
Also, in the early years of an artist’s career the appreciation of promotion and the fact that the costs are an investment are sometimes not completely grasped. Promotion is very, very important but it also needs to send the right message. Sending out an airbrush promo to represent the acrylic glaze paintings done on water colour block with wide bristle brushes just didn’t cut it. Why oh why can’t these art directors see past that : )
Many years later signing with 3 in a Box forced me to take a good look at my body of work and pinpoint a style that I wished to represent myself. Also a style that could be long-lived, for me especially. This was a long process for me as I have worked in many medias and styles over the years and enjoyed everyone of them.
My final choice was to focus on which style gave me the most enjoyment. A style that flowed without any pain in creation. Immediacy of thought converted into image.
The challenge I got from simplifying of form and visually ridding any elements that did not ad to the message, I found that I enjoyed the most. It also allows me to be very prolific in this style as the ideas would come quickly to me. Any artist can tell you the idea can be the longest part of the process.
I also will continue to promote other styles I enjoy on my own dime as one cannot expect a rep to place all of ones varied work on their site that has many talented artists who may fill the need better than I, so in that case, they get the work. And so they should. If not, and fortunately for me, my current rep is willing to call on my other styles from time to time when a client needs something different. An artist is busy or I happen to be ‘the man’.

The image of Bo Peep is one of a series in a personal challenge that I created for myself once I signed with 3 in a Box.
The challenge: Representation of classic children’s storybook characters in simplified form.
Goldie Locks, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Billy Goat Gruff to follow.

I hope you enjoy and any suggestions of future children’s book characters would be welcome.

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