Advice for getting work/representation as an illustrator

Briarhide

New Member
Hi,

I'm very new to these forums and I wondered if there might be anyone out there with more industry experience who could help me.

I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Illustration in Animation about two years ago; although my course had a slightly stronger focus on animation than illustration, I came to decide by the end of the course that I felt I would do better working within the field of illustration than animation, especially book or narrative-based illustration.

Since then I've been producing more and more work and developing my portfolio, looking out for any work I can find, and sending work to illustration agencies; but although I've had a few companies tell me they like my work, I have yet to actually have any success in getting either work or agency representation, and I'm kind of struggling to know what to do or even if I'm going about this the right way. I thought getting an agent mightn't be a bad idea, as my social media presence is pretty small, I'm not the most successful at marketing myself, and I thought an agent would be useful to help with the promotional side of things and hopefully help match me with clients. I have been told by some fellow students who were on the Illustration BA course at the same time as me though that many agents don't even consider submissions unless they've had more experience, and that I should contact art directors instead. But trying to actually find contact details for any art directors--let alone art directors for companies/publishers that I think my work might actually be suited for--seems to be really difficult. I also kind of struggle to feel very confident in sending work to art directors when they aren't asking for new work, they've likely got artists of their own working for them, but maybe that's just me.

I'm also aware that my work is maybe a little different from what a lot of clients want at the moment, or maybe I'm pitching myself at the wrong audience, I don't know; I'll admit, I don't know a great deal beyond just putting what I consider to be my best work out there as much and as widely as possible and hoping people will like it. I hear quotes from other illustrators saying things along the lines of 'make sure you find an agent/client that's right for you' but at the moment I feel like if any agent or client contacted me and asked me to work for them I'd be falling over my feet to accept, regardless of whether or not they were right for me, which probably isn't a very sensible attitude :oops: I'm aware that it can take a long time before artists get noticed, but at the moment I worry a little as to whether I'm actually doing the right thing or contacting the right people, perhaps there are other routes that I'm missing.

If anyone has any advice for a beginner getting into the industry, or would like to describe how they first got started as an illustrator, I'd be really, really grateful to hear. I have a selection of some of my work on my Behance profile too if anyone would like to know what kind of work I make. Thanks for reading!
 
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Wardy

Well-Known Member
Hey Rosie, it looks like you have my problem in that your pencil sketches often look better than the finished illustrations! That fox is lovely. :)

Yes, I think you would need a bit more experience before you would interest any illustration agencies, not that I have much experience of those myself. It's quite difficult
to start out straight away as a book illustrator, unless you are very, very good or have a very unique style. I suggest you try somewhere like Bark dot com, they have a lot of people
looking for illustrators and they often don't have massive budgets so may welcome someone who is just starting out. Self-publishing is big at the moment, maybe you have friends or family
who are thinking of writing a story and you could join forces maybe. Alternatively, you could contact a few self-publishing companies who may be on the lookout for new illustrators to
introduce to their clients.

At the same time, you may want to think about diversifying a bit and trying other styles and subjects such as advertising, logos, packaging, character work, visualisation etc.
 

Briarhide

New Member
Hey Rosie, it looks like you have my problem in that your pencil sketches often look better than the finished illustrations! That fox is lovely. :)

Yes, I think you would need a bit more experience before you would interest any illustration agencies, not that I have much experience of those myself. It's quite difficult
to start out straight away as a book illustrator, unless you are very, very good or have a very unique style. I suggest you try somewhere like Bark dot com, they have a lot of people
looking for illustrators and they often don't have massive budgets so may welcome someone who is just starting out. Self-publishing is big at the moment, maybe you have friends or family
who are thinking of writing a story and you could join forces maybe. Alternatively, you could contact a few self-publishing companies who may be on the lookout for new illustrators to
introduce to their clients.

At the same time, you may want to think about diversifying a bit and trying other styles and subjects such as advertising, logos, packaging, character work, visualisation etc.
Thank you! And thanks very much for the advice, I had looked at various other job sites but not heard of Bark.com, I'll look into it. Useful to know that agencies tend to take on artists with more experience, I'm just finding it very difficult to find any kind of illustration work whatsoever at the moment. Contacting self-publishing companies is something I hadn't considered before though.
 
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