Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Illustration Reps

When it comes to opinions about illustration representatives, there are three truths that are acknowledged among illustrators. The first is that a good rep can greatly benefit an illustrator’s reputation and income. The second is that sadly there aren’t enough reps to service the number of illustrators that could benefit from them. And the third is that illustration reps aren’t a necessity for all illustrators. If you are an illustrator who doesn’t have a rep, but is considering one, this article is for you.

I’d like to relate my own experience. I was one of the lucky ones. When I first began illustrating a rep that was interested in my work approached me. That was somewhat unusual, but what really made it unusual was that the company specialized in representing photographers. In fact the company was named Photocom Inc. Like any skilled businessperson, owner Melanie Spiegel, seized an opportunity that arose to represent illustrators. The first illustrator she enlisted was Bart Forbes, she also represented illustrator/designer Tom Nikosey. Additionally, she represented some of the top photographers in the Southwest, so I knew I would be among the best of company. There were several reasons the arrangement worked out so well. At the time I was known well as a graphic designer, but not as an illustrator. So I needed rebranding (which, by the way, is what Melanie specializes in now as a consultant to corporations). Also, I illustrated digitally, which a few clients embraced, but made most others wary. As one of Melanie’s artists, the trust clients had in her would be transferred to me. All in all, I felt it would be a win-win situation all around, which it turned out to be.

25 Things Illustration Reps Do For An Illustrator

1. Help establish a brand for an illustrator.
2. Help illustrators to achieve their goals.
3. Help young illustrators to become established.
4. Help experienced illustrators to expand their client base.
© 2014 Don Arday.
5. Save time spent on non-creative business tasks.
6. Provide credibility and trust for illustrators and their work.
7. Provide an already established clientele.
8. Make cold calls to enlist new clients.
9. Provide professional salesmanship skills.
10.Furnish client feedback on an illustrator’s portfolio.
11. Provide advice on how to deal with clients.
12. Protect illustrators from unscrupulous clients or questionable business arrangements.
13. Actively seek out commissions.
14. Maintain a list of contacts for promotional mailing and announcements.
15. Estimate and negotiate illustration fees.
16. Help an illustrator schedule work and deal with deadlines.
17. Prevent an illustrator from being taken advantage of.
18. Review contracts and provide advice on them.
19. Arbitrate job issues or disputes that may arise.
20. Bill and collect payment for illustrations.
21. Collect sales tax and remit it to the state.
22. Disburse and track portfolios and samples of work.
23. Lend an opinion on the contents of a portfolio.
24. Contribute funding and resources to advertising and promotion.
25. Negotiate reduced promotional fees with advertisers.

15 Things To Consider When Selecting An Illustration Rep

1. Whether a rep’s style and personality would make a good fit.
2. The quality reputation of the other illustrators in a rep’s stable.
3. How accessible a rep will be to an illustrator.
© 2014 Don Arday.
4. The type of markets a rep serves.
5. The number of artists and type of work represented by a rep.
6. The size of a rep’s organization, i.e., the number of sales and support staff.
7. The amount of attention given to illustrator and their work will get.
8. Whether or not a rep meets with clients face to face.
9. Whether or not promotional expenses are shared between an illustrator and a rep.
10. Whether or not a rep will deal with assignment contracts and other legal arrangements.
11. Whether or not a rep collects and pays sales taxes
12. What commission percentage will be taken by a rep.
13. Whether or not a rep is paid a monthly upfront fee in lieu or with a commission.
14. Whether the rep wants a commission for everything an illustrator produces or is willing to have a limited agreement, i.e., one that excludes editorial work, existing accounts. etc.
15. Whether or not a rep’s agreement has a release clause or can be amended.

10 Things Illustrators Do For An Illustration Rep

© 2014 Don Arday.

1. Add to a rep’s income stream.
2. Provide a product a rep can sell.
3. Provide a service for a rep’s customers.
4. Refer job inquiries to a rep.
5. Help a rep expand their customer base.
6. Add a unique style or increased versatility to a reps offerings.
7. Enhance the reputation of a rep.
8. Assist financially with advertising materials.
9. Handle all the creative aspects of an assignment.
10. Pay a rep a 25 – 35% commission or a fee for work brought in.


The general feeling among illustrators with reps is that they have positive influence on their business and their careers. But there are many illustrators who have succeeded without outside representation. Whether or not to enter into an agreement with a rep is an important decision, and should be considered in the context of an illustrator’s business plan and career goals. There are also other factors such as personal ones that have to be considered.

A business arrangement should always be formalized with a contract with both the illustrator and the illustration rep fully agreeing to all the provisions and conditions. The relationship between a rep and an illustrator is nothing less than a partnership, which means that both parties have an obligation to each other. An illustration rep serves the illustrator as a salesperson, financial specialist, and account executive. The illustrator serves as a product and service provider.

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