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The Pros and Cons of Having an Agent

Lesson 12 from: FAST CLASS: Working Successfully with Clients: A Class for Illustrators and Designers

Lisa Congdon

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Lesson Info

12. The Pros and Cons of Having an Agent

Lesson Info

The Pros and Cons of Having an Agent

going to talk for a second about agents because agents are sort of like having legal help. So you might be sitting here thinking, you know, isn't there someone out there who can just do all of this for me? Do I have to do all of this myself? I didn't realize this was part of being an artist. Um and the answer to that is yes. And there are different ways that um that we can get legal help. One of those ways is like I said, you know, like going to like a local um some cities have organizations that give legal advice to artists or they have like saturday open houses where you can bring issues or you can call in and talk to a lawyer for free, even sometimes about getting legal advice. Um so there's always help out there for you and there's a lot of resources online to that are you want to make sure that they're they're legitimate. But there's a lot of places to get advice, but one way to get advice and to help be protected is to sign with an agency. And having an agent can be really amazin...

g for people who don't want to deal with negotiating contracts, don't want to deal with negotiating fees, don't want to deal with billing, right? And invoicing. And all of this sort of work that comes the administrative work that comes with being an artist benefits of having an agent benefits of working without an agent. They're pretty simple. So what is an illustration agent? An illustration agent is a person who manages your work. They deal with things like negotiating contracts and taking care of billing, They promote the work of the artists they represent, They also take anywhere between 15, I'm sorry 25 and 40% of your fees for doing the work that they do. So this comes with a price for many people. It's worth it. The pros to working with an agent, they can make connections with big name clients. This is one of the best parts of having an agent is that as the agency grows and develops their establishing relationships with all kinds of people that they can potentially connect their artists to. And um if you're somebody who is new to the business or you're not so good at or don't like the hustling part of trying to connect with people that you want to work with or promoting your work. Having an agent is great because they can make those connections for you, they can pitch and promote your work for you. They can refer you when a client comes with an opportunity. So a lot of times agencies have relationships with existing businesses and um corporate clients so they come and they say oh um we're gonna do this advertising campaign or um we're gonna make a new line of betting for our, you know, home decor department and we want to artists who works or makes work that's really kid friendly and the artists will say, oh you know, here's some artists for you to choose from. And maybe you're one of the people who got picked in that client never would have known you existed if it weren't for the agent. So agents can really connect you, they handle the contracts and billing. They collect payments. So payments usually go through the agent Client pays the agent, the agent takes out there 25-40% and the rest goes to you. They should have knowledge of the industry standard for what you should be paid for. A particular kind of works. Remember earlier we were talking about industry standard and trying to understand that for the most part, this sort of eliminates that conundrum. However, I remember there was a couple times I was working with my agent and she was like, look, this is a good fee for this job. And I was like, this sounds terrible. Ultimately. She would say to me, lisa, you get to decide if you want to take this job or not. I think you should do it because this is a good feed. But if you're not comfortable or if this doesn't sound interesting to you, you get to walk away and my agent was great that way. And like not making me feel pressured to take a job that didn't that, you know, somebody was interested in working with me, but I wasn't that interested, but some agents might make you feel pressured. Um, and they might not necessarily know what you should be paid. So you do give up a certain amount of control when you have an agent, they do all the back and forth negotiating with clients, which is great. Good agents intervene when things are ever sticky or weird with the client. This is one of the best parts. So the pros to working without an agent, you make 100% of the money on a job. So if the job pays $1000 you make A $1,000. If you have an agent you might make only $700 or you know, because the agent is taking 30%. So you know on a big paying jobs that's a huge chunk of money and that was something that was starting to feel painful for me. So another thing I like is you don't have to give up any control over any part of the process. I actually like reading contracts and negotiating fees. I've gotten used to it. It's not as stressful for me anymore. I have a lot of practice at it. I like asking for the money that I want to make on a project and not feeling like I'm disappointing my agent because I'm asking for more than maybe she would have asked. Remember one of the first opportunities I got after, I would, I was like I made had made a clean break from her and was no longer working with her. I asked for like way more than the client, Like a bid on a job but I like made the bid super high just to see what would happen because I'd always wanted to do that before but when I had an agent but never felt really comfortable because I always let her decide what we were going to charge and the client said yes and I was like oh this is how it works. I need to push the envelope more often and you get to do that when you don't have an agent, you alone get to make the decisions about how much you charge or what your bottom line is and that's really great. So agent or no agent depends on your preferences. Of course finding the right agent for you or even signing with an agent is not simple and it's not necessarily that have something that happens quickly for everyone. But it is definitely something to pursue if you feel like those aspects of the business, the negotiating, the billing, the promotion are things you would rather pay somebody else to do. It's definitely worth it.

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