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Have you been represented by an art agent?
Yes
17%
 17%  [ 6 ]
Nope, no interest
38%
 38%  [ 13 ]
Too hard to find one.
14%
 14%  [ 5 ]
Would be interested even if they did take 20%
29%
 29%  [ 10 ]
Total Votes : 34

Author   Topic : "Art agents?"
immi
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 11:23 am     Reply with quote
Hi

I was curious as to whether anyone here has been or is represented by an agent (specifically for illustration & digital work rather than traditional), and what your experience has been with them? How effective have they been at finding you work? What's their cut, how do they market you? etc. Are they fair?

Just interested in hearing experiences and thoughts.
btw, i'm not interested in an agent for myself , just researching for website.
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Loki
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 11:26 am     Reply with quote
Had an agent and had to drop-kick her, since she actually just cost me money and didn't get me one single job in nearly a year, whereas I myself got one after another.
Good agents are hard to find. If you find a good one let me know - until that you're better off alone.
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immi
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2003 12:08 pm     Reply with quote
Were you exclusively signed to her Loki? How'd she cost you money? Did you have to pay a fee for her services? Did she market you in any way as far as you know?

How do you yourself go about finding jobs? Through networking and exposure on the web mainly? Do you list yourself in any magazines or books etc?

Thanks for the response Loki, appreciate it.
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Gort
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2003 6:39 am     Reply with quote
I had a miserable experience with an agent back in 1995; she insisted that I use her "authorized print shop" to do my media kit. I already had a kit, but she wouldn't do business with me unless I used her vendor. Turned out that her vendor was also her business friend, and the quality of work was terrible and cost a lot (can get some KY Jelly with those cheesey brochures?)!

I opted out and pursued my own methods of marketing (it was harder but I did find work).

That isn't to say that all agents are bad, for there are some reputable ones that can help. Remember that you yourself are a business, and an agent is a service, so you have every right to inquire about the agent's own track record. Who else have they represented? Can I get references? Does the agent specialize in just visual artists or do they represent a broader spectrum of talent? I would look for someone that concentrates on your relative skillset (for example, Famous Frames specializes in placing storyboard artists and production illustrators). You might also want to negotiate any presented contracts ("I don't want a 1 year obligation - can we do 6 or even 3 months? I want to see if you're as good as you say you are").

that was my two cents
Smile
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Loki
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2003 2:14 pm     Reply with quote
I can only second every word Tom just wrote. To the point.

Good agents are a blessing - bad ones can make your life hell.
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ReAktor
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2003 11:52 am     Reply with quote
I am marketing my own work and it works well. I don't need one of those parasites. My customers keep coming back because they know how I work and that I guarantee the quality of my work. Personally. Without someone in between.

Yes, I had a bad experience with one Agent myself. I am still waiting for my money and the company went bancrupt last year. And as far as I know there are twenty more people waiting for their money as well... But, hey, that was the music Mafi^H^H^H^HBusiness. Very Happy
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Joachim
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2003 7:02 pm     Reply with quote
I wouldn't mind having an agent getting me cool and really well paid jobs , but I disagree that you have to pay them a monthly fee or anything. 20% of the job they get you seem ok, but they should only get paid from jobs you get paid from nothing else. THen you can have like 5-10 agents, and just pick the work you like and think sounds interessting and pays best. THen they can earn money if they find well a lot of interessting jobs, if they don't they shouldn't be agents to begin with.

Now, I've never had an agent before though, but nothing else than this sounds reasonable to me. From what I see, they are sales people, nothing else...and then they should only profit from how well they can sell.
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eyewoo
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2004 5:01 am     Reply with quote
Joachim wrote:
THen you can have like 5-10 agents, and just pick the work you like and think sounds interessting and pays best.


Boy, me thinks if someone could get 5 or 10 agents interested in their work, they wouldn't need an agent... They would have to be extraordinary, eh!

I'd be interested in hearing about some self-marketing techniques that have been successful.
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spooge demon
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2004 3:56 pm     Reply with quote
I have been working with the same agent for the past 13 years and it has worked out very well. Of all the people I have met in my trajectory through Sodom and Gomorrah (LA) she is the one I can trust completely.

There is a problem with using more than one agent. You have only so much time and having a number of agents beating the bushes without some kind of idea that you will be available is not fair to the agents. Scheduling with tricky jobs gets tricky.

Some jobs are very complex and usage and copyright and all that is difficult to get through. Often times you are negotiating with lawyers who will eat you alive. They will obfuscate and waste your time until you cave in. The jobs I do have contracts running many many pages. I am not competent to evaluate this. A lawyer could, but that would be the only service they would provide.

Having a rep who understands contracts and knows the market is better than a lawyer. It is a complicated thing to keep up with the market, and the artist working in the studio does not have the exposure to do this.

My agent is a negotiator, and deals with bureaucrats very well (unlike me). Remember the bureaucrat exists to secure their job, and it is in their interests to make the deal complex and protective of their company. If the deal is with production people, sometimes it does not go as well.

Also it is important to have an agent who is not greedy and wants to bleed every last dime out of every deal. This is shortsighted and cuts both of your throats. Again, know the market. If you come in low or high it is very bad for your reputation.

Be very careful of references. To me they are worthless for stuff that really matters. If people work together and it does not go well, there is a point at which the two almost nonverbally agree to “not say anything bad” about the other. It’s quid pro quo. I have seen this happen many times in the movie business and in other areas of life as well. And a lot of people don’t like giving recommends at all because of the implied responsibility.

Stay away from companies that take your work and repackage it. Like FF or something. Not a good deal at all.

I worked with an agent right out of school, and she helped me get started. I recently had to stop working with her. She had not kept up with the industries I work in and could not give accurate bids, and the more complicated contracts were beyond her experience. Also, I would not hear from her for an extended period, I would have a booked year with my other agent and she would be understandably upset that I could not take the job. So I am just working with one right now.

I will be looking into getting an agent to work with galleries in the near future.
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gezstar
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 7:39 pm     Reply with quote
what spooge said. my agents are www.folioart.co.uk . they're great, and have managed to get me a lot of jobs (with clients like adidas and sports illustrated) in the short time i've been with them. the two that deal with me are my age (26) and i go out for beers with them quite a lot, to the point where i consider them good mates. unlike an employer/employee relationship, the artist and agent are on more of an equal standing, which allows for this kind of friendly relationship... at least in my limited experience.

as for having multiple agents, i think the unwritten rule is that it's ok to have one per country - for example, i will be looking to be represented in japan once i move there. but getting another british agent would be out of order since you would be effectively two-timing them.
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Gort
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2004 5:21 am     Reply with quote
Quote:
Stay away from companies that take your work and repackage it. Like FF or something. Not a good deal at all.

What do you mean exactly, Craig? The only thing I didn't like about FF was that they wanted me to relocate to Southern California, which I didn't understand or was crazy about, really.
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stacy
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 6:00 pm     Reply with quote
I had an agent when I was at SheauXnough Studio in Austin, Tejas with Mike Priest, Danny Garrett and Guy Juke.

She was another artist who took a space with us. Her work was mediocre but she had great people skills and was cuter than hell, and my work was great but I can't sell worth beans.

SO... she started selling my services and we had a great team... for about six months. Then summer rolled around and she started hanging out at Lake Travis and doing way too much dope and it fell apart.

But, while it worked, it worked great.

I'd like to find another Rep. that was as good as her, only without a drug problem.

Because it was basically just me and her the split was more like 60/40 and if she had to do a lot of wheeling and dealing to land a client we just divvied up 50/50.

I didn't mind that at all. She wasn't a professional agent who represented lot's of other people at the same time, so I had her full services all the time, every day.

And I made more that If I'd just been working by myself.
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spooge demon
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 9:42 pm     Reply with quote
Gort, I looked at FF site again and maybe I have to retract using them as an example. There is no information on their operating procedures at all, but they represent some very talented artists. I think they approached me a while ago and the deal was “we pay you and they pay us, and you and they are blind to each other.” Maybe it wasn’t them. As I remember, whoever it was that approached me did not even identify the artists.

But to expand a little on the problem, if an agent comes to you with a job and asks how much you want, and proceeds to charge that client double that, say no. It has happened to me. Usually they will refuse to document how much the client was charged, saying you were paid what you asked and the rest is none of your business. It is your business.
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Gort
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:17 am     Reply with quote
I agree with you on that, Spooge. In practice I don't see anytning wrong with the concept but only if all parties on the same wavelength, but I will say that in the case of reprensentation, the agent should bill for their services -- not a markup of your services to the third party. What's happening here is that the agency is retaining the credit for the service, while the artist is more or less a sub-contractor of the agency.

Wrong. I believe an agency should open doors for the artist - help establish contacts within a particular industry.
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stacy
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 10:06 am     Reply with quote
Spooge mentioned "repackaging"... My Graphic Arts Guild manual says something to the affect that the defacto standard for using an artist's material is: the piece is really being LEASED not sold. It's being released to the buyer for a given purpose, one time. And unless it's specifically agreed otherwise, the artist RETAINS the original art and all rights. If, say, an illustration that's used for a magazine ad is reused as a background for matchbook covers or screened onto giveaway coffee mugs or something, then the artist has to be paid again in full. I would think that agents would lawfully have to be held to that, whether the contract or agreement explicitly states that, or not. Is that what you meant by "repackaging" or am I way off?




----------------
P.S.

Holy Matte Paintings Batman... the Spooge Demon is none other than Craig Mullins his own 'sef !!! (I just clicked the profile button and was stunned!)

I've been using your sketch of the ships in harbor with the village and the castle in the background for wall paper for at least a couple of years now!

I have one "fan question"? ...Where can I find at least one good resource in the form of text book, manual, video, website or whatever, that can teach me how to properly do the lighting technique you use, where the background changes value and seems so deep and realistic? I've tried but all I get is a flat unconvincing fog effect.
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stacy
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2004 11:21 am     Reply with quote
Yo, Craig. Are you there...?
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Gort
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 6:14 am     Reply with quote
Quote:
Yo, Craig. Are you there...?


Patience, Padawan
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spooge demon
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 3:07 am     Reply with quote
Unless it is "work for hire" If you paint Mickey Mouse for Disney, it is a copyrighted character already, so you can't make prints and sell them without the MOST DIRE CONSEQUENCES. You had better fake your own death if you make this mistake.

There is no governing body making up rules of conduct. The graphic artists guild makes suggestions, describes market conditions, but that's about it. It is all what you can negotiate. Syd Mead kept his original art, or the deal was off. At the time, nobody else in the biz had the leverage to do this. But it was important to him, so he cashed in some his other points to get it.

On the reuse thing, someone pays you for the work, then resells it to a third party, without you knowing what it was sold for. Sometimes the come on is "I pay you and I take the risk that the client will not pay." This is hardly ever the case, and you won't see dime one if it does happen. The usual deal is I do an architectural bird's eye for $5000. Mr. Rep sells it to the architect for $30,000. He pockets the difference. You can see there might be a mismatch between your and the client's perception of the amount of work and expertise in the image. So not only are you getting screwed, but you do a quick job (cause you aren't getting paid much) and the client feels screwed because they were expecting Michelangelo. It's a bad deal for everyone but the crook. But you can't blame them for trying. It's all what you can negotiate.

Which is why I use a rep, negotiation is an art form that is not given the credit it deserves. Trust me, if you are not very good at it and not very knowledgeable (and not knowing when you don't know something is a very human weakness) about the market, you are leaving a lot on the table. It is worth the money.

But sometimes you have little choice. Let's say you work for a theme park development company. You figure out you were paid x for an illustration. Your employer sells the design package to a client, and if you saw it itemized, holy cow, they are marking it up 5x. You pay a big bill for the security of a regular paycheck.

Which leads me to save money, live well within your means, so you DO have a choice.

People out there can smell when someone is up against a wall, and will glue and screw you to it given the chance. Live your life so you do not have to say yes to a bad deal.

End rant!


Uhm on the depth issue, not sure what to say, a little OT. Get Ryan Churches video? It is really more than a technique, it is more of an issue of how a soup of particles affect how things look. It is a little too complex to go into here.
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stacy
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:09 am     Reply with quote
Thank you for clarifying what I thought I was understanding, but obviously didn't, in the Guild material.

Another thank you for pointing me to the Gnomon workshop. It seems to be dead-bang right on... exactly what I was looking for. Just expressing it as "a soup of particles" adds a way of conceptuallizing it that has never crossed my mind before.

It's amazing to be able to come to a forum like this and be able to casually pick the brain of a genuine Master!


------------------

P.S.
For anyone else following this thread, I found Church's DVDs at:
www.thegnomonworkshop.com/dvds/rch04.html
www.ryanchurch.com/08BUY.htm
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Lunatique
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 6:21 pm     Reply with quote
Headhuntes, agents, recruiters..etc are especially notorious in the game industry. But I'm very lucky that I've never really had a bad experience with one. In fact, the best job I ever had in games was through a headhunter. There are definitely a lot bad ones out there though--they would spam your resume even though they have no relationship with the companies, have little or no knowledge about requirements from both parties, and always ask for too much money. Best thing to do is to go with the already established recruiters. Usually you only stay in the biz if you haven't pissed off too many people, so if they are still in business, that means people generally like them.
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Jason_Manley
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2004 12:09 am     Reply with quote
sorry to dig up a month old thread...had a few words for it.


Massive Black Inc. recently spent time dealing with a group of well known agents from the film industry. They represent some of the top artists on that side of the fence. To make a long story short, we caught them packaging our portfolio as their own without permission and also attempting to dole out that incoming work to their other artists in order to undercut us even though their artists portfolios were not submitted to gain the work. We had spent two months hammering out the agreements before we finally found them to be too shady to deal with. They were moving toward the games industry and were attempting to use us to set themselves up as our competition. (usually an agent represents an artist or a group of artists and not a company of talent with a group identity).

Always be leery of anyone representing you until trust is earned and enter the agreements carefully. Great people are hard to find. They are out there as Mr. Mullins post attests. If you know who you are getting into bed with, and can build a solid relationship tihngs can go very well.

My personal experiences with games agents/recruiters has been similar. There were those would send me to the bottom feeder of the industry even if they knew it was to go under the mud...and there are those who would send me to much higher places in my career.

The best agent you can get is strength in your own work. If your portfolio stands on it's own and is of high calibur...then it is an easy sell. The agent just handles paperwork and negotiations at that point.

Self marketing and dealing with the biz side takes away from time in the studio which then comes back to haunt you. Trust me on that part. An agent solves this problem. However, learning all aspects of the business you are in creates opportunities later by showing you future doors that will open and can help you stay afloat and control your own career...steer your own ship. I really feel that at this point, one is ready to deal with an agency. Personally, I prefer to go without the person who does the talking for me. Fortunately, this has worked for us.



J
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