I've always liked working with artists; in fact, I come from a whole family of them. I had my first taste of this world from working at a fine art agency at just 15, and my enthusiasm for working alongside creatives just grew from there. As an Art and Design Editor for a writing and arts magazine throughout my university days, I loved looking for up-and-coming artists and illustrators, often paying their commission out of my own pocket. I left university and the magazine behind, but not that innate drive to communicate with and on behalf of creative people; when I saw amazing work from an illustrator, I just wanted to show everyone how incredible they were.
When I started my internship at Advocate in 2013 I found myself in a team of people who were completely dedicated to nurturing artistic talent, and I knew I was in the right place. Our main aim is to help our illustrators realise firstly their dream of being a creative freelancer, working for yourself and doing something you love every day, and secondly their long-term aspirations. We think one-to-one attention is invaluable, so from the get-go we invite artists to the office to talk about their career ambitions and (most importantly) their portfolios. Every month we host an Artist Day, where illustrators can come in to have a cup of tea with the team, evaluate their ongoing projects, and talk about how we can help them to achieve more. The fact that we have illustrators on our books that have been with us since the beginning (20 years and counting!) speaks volumes about how much these personal relationships matter.
Each agent has around 5 to 6 client meetings a week, so we're constantly exposed to what publishers and art buyers are on the look-out for, and we bring this knowledge with us every time we see a new piece of artwork. It's not just about responding to what's in front of us either; we pride ourselves in our ability to spot the promising aspects of an artist's portfolio. We then really encourage that talent, matching the style and approach to the right publishers. In fact it's probably the most rewarding part of the job; helping an artist and a client develop a strong, long-lasting relationship.
Above all, we respect the independence of the people we represent, and our hope is that our illustrators feel in control of their work and their lives. We believe in direct communication between a client and an artist, allowing creativity to flow naturally between the two. With the launch of our new website, which will allow artists to manage their online portfolios, we're taking our principles one step further - now each artist will have a direct input into how they're presented to the world, bolstered by our support and expertise.