30 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN AN ILLUSTRATION REP
(Reposted from Luc Latullipe)
“I don’t think illustrators necessarily need representation. I’ve said before: An illustrator without a rep is STILL an illustrator. But a rep without illustrators is just someone with nice business cards. (I sound like a big jerk there, and I’m sorry. If you’re a rep I’m sure I’ll hear from you and that’s totally cool.)
My biggest piece of advice when interviewing a rep is to ask as many questions as you can think of regarding how he runs his business. Here’s a list to start with, in no particular order:
- Make sure the contract includes a trial period (usually 3-6 months) so you can see if this is a good fit. (Following this trial period, if you wish to discontinue working together, it should be a clean, no-strings break.)
- How much commission does she take? It’s usually 25% (which for the record I believe is too high; 10-15% seems more reasonable to me), but I’ve heard some artists give up to 30% to their reps. Ouch! That’s 1/3 of your revenue!
- What does she provide in return that commission? How much of her own overhead is spent on marketing (A) the agency, and (B) you?
- Does he want you to hand over your existing client list? Why?
- What happens to clients you’ve worked with prior to signing up with the rep?
- Does she take a reduced commission (or none at all) when clients wish to go through you, rather than her? If no, why not? Does your contract allow this?
- Does he expect you to pay an additional fee simply to be represented?
- Will she actively contact new clients you’ve declared you’d like to work with?
- Are you allowed to experiment with new styles and change your artistic direction as you see fit?
- Does she insist on you spending a fixed sum of money for advertising and marketing?
- Does she let you choose where you’ll spend your marketing budget?
- Does she insist you get listed in any illustration directories? (They’re quite expensive, usually around $1500/page.)
- Does he expect you to pay to be on his website? — If the answer is “Yes,” you should seriously question this. A rep’s website is part of THEIR overhead. Not yours. You (and probably another 30-40 artists) already give them 25% of your revenue. If 30 artists each earn $25,000/year, that amounts to $187,500 going to the rep. If $40,000, that’s $300,000 for the rep. Plenty there for them to hire a good web designer.
- Can you quickly and easily edit your own listing on his website?
- Does he include a link to your website from his website? If no, why not?
- What are things she does to increase business and actively reach out to new clients? The word “actively” is key here; I’m talking cold-calling, and meeting art directors in person. Not just passive stuff like sending out emails or taking out ads in Communication Arts magazine.
- Are you free to express yourself however you wish on your own blog? Facebook? Twitter? If no, then what are the rules?
- Does she also want to act as an art director for your work?
- Does she have any accreditation in art or design?
- Does he insist that all communications between you and a client go only through him?
- Does he intervene between you and the client (in rare cases when there’s a problem)?
- What happens when a job drags out longer than planned, and the client refuses to increase payment to reflect this?
- How does she handle unpaid invoices from a client?
- Does she (A) let you bill the client directly or (B) does she bill on your behalf? (There are advantages to both.)
- If (B), how soon does she pay you after a client has sent her the payment?
- Does she insist clients pay a late-fee if they’re behind? How does she enforce that?
- Is he open to asking for more money on a job, if you feel that job isn’t paying enough? Is he willing to negotiate with the client for more money? (You both benefit after all.)
- Are you able to turn down work without fear of ramifications?
- How does she feel about work-for-hire and spec jobs?
- What’s expected of YOU in this relationship?”