HELP FROM AN AGENT

JAMES YEO AND CHRIS PAGE EX­PLAIN HOW AN AGENT CAN FIND YOU BET­TER WORK AND NE­GO­TI­ATE CLIENT FEES

Computer Arts - - Money Guide -

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.

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