HELP FROM AN AGENT
JAMES YEO AND CHRIS PAGE EXPLAIN HOW AN AGENT CAN FIND YOU BETTER WORK AND NEGOTIATE CLIENT FEES
If managing your money as a freelancer is proving a challenge, one way you can improve matters is to get some representation. “A lot of artists, especially the younger ones, don’t know how to price their work,” says James Yeo, an agent for JSR, a London agency specialising in photographers, illustrators, CG and motion designers. “For example, they don’t know how much usage costs should be. An agency like ours can take care of all that for you.”
They’ll take a cut, of course – but they’ll almost certainly get you a better deal than you could have got yourself. “It just lets you get on with the creative stuff,” says Yeo, “while we get on with all the paperwork, tax forms, and all the rest of it.” Furthermore, he adds, the best paid work normally comes through big advertising clients. “And a lot of these prefer going through agents, so getting representation can be a doorway to get into that kind of work.”
Like most agents, JSR only take on a few new creatives each year, but that shouldn’t stop you applying, says Yeo. “Just do your research: make sure you’re not too similar to our existing roster, and tell me what makes you different.”
Jelly London is another company offering representation for creatives, including graphic designers. Founder Chris Page qualifies that a little, though. “There’s a sensibility to the designers we represent in that they are ‘very graphic’,” he explains. “We’re not talking about people that just do layout or, you know, brochures. We represent people who have a very illustrative feel to their design, and can create bespoke pieces of design for a specific project.”
Page adds that an agent won’t do all the work for you. “If you’re thinking: ‘I’m not getting enough work but if I get an agent, suddenly I’ll be rich,’ that’s not necessarily going to happen,” he says. “We represent many people where most of the work generated comes through them – they have a really good reputation, or a solid base of clients. But they want someone who’ll negotiate usage, organise the contractual side of the work, and also project manage.”
And that includes the thorny issue of agreeing fees. “I think there’s a big value in an agent there, because we can earn you more money by being a tougher negotiator,” says Page. “It’s much easier to get someone else to negotiate for you. It’s really hard to play ‘good cop/bad cop’ on your own, but if you’ve got an agent who’s roughing out costs and being really tough on usage and things like that, there’s an inherent value in that.”
Illustration for a Carling campaign by Alex Tait, who’s represented by Jelly London.
Movie poster illustration for Disney by Raid71 (aka Chris Thornley), who’s represented by JSR.
Cover illustration for Time Out by Greg Coulton, who is represented by JSR.