I seem to be blogging a tad less than I used to. It’s most probably down to being very busy with my new agent – Bright Group, even though I can’t complain really!
For Bright Group, I’ve created designs for different categories, these being licensing, children’s book illustration and publishing. I’m not too sure which area I prefer the most as yet, yet time will tell.
Regarding agents, I am featured on CB Illustrators blog, which discusses how I went about finding an agent. They were interested to know my take on preparing my portfolio, finding an agent and comparing agents with freelancing – which I do as well. These are the questions, along with my answers (I’ve extended on some of the answers for this blog post).
Finding an agent
Q1 How did you started your portfolio and how did you want to build your portfolio?
When initially starting my portfolio, I was happy to create patterns and illustrations that interested me, for apparel, home décor and stationery. I had no real direction and as time went on, I realised which areas of design I felt most passionate about. It’s funny looking back at my earlier work, because my portfolio looked so diverse. It looked as if it had been created by different designers. This was something I strongly wanted to focus on. I wanted my work to show that I can design for different occasions; Christmas, birthdays, children’s, Halloween, Valentine’s, florals and Easter for example.
Q2 How long was it until you felt you wanted to look for a representation?
When I felt my portfolio was strong, I then began to seek representation. I used to work in a design studio, after graduating from university, as well as freelance for about four years. I also had a teaching career for a few years (art and maths, believe it or not!). When getting back into the design industry, after all of this, I wanted to make sure my portfolio looked professional and to show that I could produce a whole range of design work.
You could argue if you are ever ready because your work is forever changing, as you develop a style or continue to experiment with different media and so on. I think as artists, our work changes all the time and we’re constantly updating our portfolios. You have to start somewhere!
Q3 How long did it take to find representation and is it different than freelancing and how?
I approached my first agent after my time designing gift-wrap and gift accessories for Deva Designs. It didn’t take long at all for me to get agent representation and I worked for Brenda Manley Designs for just short of twelve months. Whilst represented by Brenda Manley, I produced both patterns and illustrations and over time, I concentrated mainly on creating illustrations. This was what I wanted to do most, what I have the most passion for. I realised that my love for illustration had overtaken that which I initially had loved so much; surface pattern.
During that time, I was contacted by a few different illustration agencies. I held out, as I really wanted to be represented by the Bright Group. My patience paid off and finally, when I felt my portfolio to be good enough, I sent it off to Bright. Four weeks later, I signed an agreement with them. I was quite surprised at how quickly it happened!
I liked the type of work their illustrators produced and felt my style would fit perfectly within what they already had on their books. I was very excited to be part of the Bright Group.
I still freelance, which I have done for many years. The clients I have don’t use Bright Group, which is great, as I do not want any conflicts of interest to happen.
Having a representative takes away some of the business pressure and stress so often associated with freelancing. For instance, an agency deals directly with the clients, selling your work at trade shows, giving you set briefs as well as marketing your work. It allows you to concentrate more on your actual artwork. Agencies also deal with chasing payments, which can be a real pain, if you have to do that yourself. There’s lots of information about agents online, but first decide whether you’d prefer an agent or to find the work for yourself by contacting different companies.
As a freelancer, my role is to market myself. I share my work on different social platforms, and I do this every day. In addition to this, I have a certain amount of paperwork, book-keeping, and client liaison. Overall, I feel very fortunate that I am able to do what I love the most!
It’s funny but when I start with a new agent, I do tend to feel a bit anxious. I know that they like my work or they wouldn’t have signed me, however, I think a little self doubt can get in the way. Once I get a few sales and receive some feedback from the agent, then I’m off.
I think we all need a bit of reassurance because at the end of the day, we absolutely love what we do and we need some sort of direction. At the end of the day it’s important to produce commercial designs and to make money from our art, to survive in this competitive industry.
I’d like to share with you a couple of floral designs I’ve created recently. They’re pretty bold yet colourful. I really enjoyed producing these and I hope you like them too!
*Please refrain from using the above floral designs. They are rightly owned by the designer emmajayne-designs and if you are interested in purchasing my artwork, you can do so by contacting my agent, Bright Group.
Thank you kindly! 🙂
Emma Jayne x