Advocate community

About Advocate Art

We represent the world's leading artists and illustrators who produce children's and decorative work to commission or license from our online library.

Advocate was founded in 1992 with a group of illustrators who liked the idea of having an agent but not the other things that often came with that. We call our ethos four "f.a.c.t.s"; Fairness, Ability, Creativity and Trust. It's about doing the right thing and being with the right people. We think our principles set us apart from conventional agencies, sticking to them has meant we have attracted the most creative illustrators and artists who in turn attract (with a little help) the best clients.

We also offer wider creative services through our sister company - Collaborate Agency. This is where we can pool together several artists for larger or more complex projects such as iPad app's, class room animations, teacher resources, full service packaging and design and artist generated stories books or concepts.

It is for these reasons that Advocate has become the largest illustration agency around and I'd like to think one of the most respected, but we understand we didn't get that way by acting like the biggest. Come and find out for yourself…

Meet the team

Edward Burns
Edward Burns CEO

The people we represent are perfectly able to conduct their own affairs but like working with Advocate because we offer value to them in the services we provide. It's their choice to be with us, we have a high retention rate; most of the most popular artists in our group have been with us from the start. Of course we allow direct client contact with our artists and illustrators, allowing creativity to flow without being diluted in translation. We also go beyond that too, treating artist and clients like the business partners they are. Business is all about relationships and we understand that often it is very important after the initial introduction for us to stand aside, only acting to assist if called upon.

Kate Johnson
Kate Johnson Senior Agent

I started at Advocate as an intern whilst studying children's book Illustration at Brighton University, which was 12 years ago. I have seen and been instrumental in the agency's success and growth over that time, developing and strengthening its key client and artist relationships.

I am the Senior Agent so a large part of my time is to use my experience and knowledge of the industry to help commercially focus the Agent team. The week starts with a Monday sales meeting (including the New York office via Skype), coordinating our sales effort, discussing industry requirements and how we can fulfil them.

I direct our sales resources towards forthcoming trade shows and sales trips and by organising marketing material such as our Heads Up and Mag catalogues. It's my role to really tune into the needs of our core markets; Book Publishing; Greeting Cards, Stationary and Gifts; as well as Home Decor, Ceramic and Fine Art publishing. I coordinate our marketing efforts using all the tools available including social media, PR, advertising, mailings and of course face-to-face meetings.

The artists expect their Agent to be getting their portfolios out there, and I make sure we do.

Laura Lee
Laura Lee Senior Publishing Agent

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.

Hannah Abbo
Hannah Abbo Senior Agent - US

I graduated from Cambridge with a degree in History of Art and joined Advocate in 2009. Initially an intern, I then worked as an in-house illustrator helping out on a project another artist couldn't complete. I learnt straight away that every project at Advocate was a team effort, and no one was left to flounder on their own.

Advocate has always had a strong presence in America, yet in 2014 I open the New York Office right in publishing land on 34 street, our Surrey location - with quick access to the M25, makes it easy for our agents to catch up face-to-face with our European clients from London to Oxford, Paris to Moscow.

As Advocate expands into new territories and markets, our exposure to global trend information continues to grow too. One of the key roles of Advocate's agents is identifying themes that are set to influence the children's book market, greeting card design and commercial decorative arts. Reference collected during international trips, client briefings and trade shows is relayed to our artists through a private resources blog. I also create mood boards from this information, cementing what can sometimes be an overwhelming amount of reference into key looks and trends. This resource, along with the invaluable client feedback we share with our artists, mean Advocate's freelance illustrators are always tapped in to the global market.

Natasha Harding
Natasha Harding Senior Licensing Agent

As a creative myself, graduating from University after studying illustration and having a freelance career, I have a good depth of knowledge and empathy for the amazing artists we represent here at Advocate. I am passionate and proud to be able to present their amazing work to our clients and to work through a project as a team until you see it published and ready to share with the world! I like to think of Advocate as more then just an agency, but as a collective family working towards goals we all share, and finding the perfect fit between artist and publisher.

The Collaborate Agency is the team that we work with to develop and produce new story ideas sourced from artists, writers and even staff. Collaborate has been highly successful worldwide, selling entire stories written and illustrated by the artists we represent. I am pleased to take a more senior role in this area to secure deals on their behalf. We believe that it's really important for an artist to take ownership of his or her own content, in order to take the next step from being a hired hand, to a creator of content.

Julija Lalina
Julija Lalina Senior Agent - EU/Asia

As a child, I always wanted to be an explorer when I grew up, so working with Advocate's worldwide client base, selling into developing markets in Asia and Russia, finding out nuances about new territories and building relationship with the clients definitely strike a chord.

Besides, being an illustrator myself, I am thrilled to see how there are truly no boundaries for freelance artists any more. As an agency we do our best to help with that - regardless of our client location, we have a fantastic artist for any project and if the artwork is needed lightning-fast we have an on-line library, which contains 100,000 images that are available. It also helps us facilitate an active re-licensing side of our business and generate a very important secondary income for our artists.

To ensure even wider exposure for our artists, we also exhibit at the international conventions - Paperworld, Spring Fair, Surtex, BEA, PG Live and book fairs in Bologna, Frankfurt and London, as well as attending a multitude of smaller shows. There is no other agency in the world that takes space at all these shows. In fact, we are often the only artist agency exhibiting!

From January through to September we are constantly on the go and attend a show roughly every 3 weeks! It certainly pays off as we can say hand on heart, that an artist's folio has been seen in person by over 1,000 of the world's top art buyers.

Deborah Daniel-Derriman
Deborah Daniel-Derriman Credit Control

At Advocate we have an artist portal where you can see the status of your jobs from contract stage through to when you get paid, just as you would manage your bank account on line. We have a full time credit controller whose sole role is to make sure payments come in on time, a contracts manager who makes sure all contracts are signed and the relevant local laws are met, and an office manager who liaises with artists queries on demand. The service we provide to artists means that they need not worry about just sales, but accounts through to legal services; freeing them to focus on the art.

Nick Penn
Nick Penn Office Manager

At Advocate we have an artist portal where you can see the status of your jobs from contract stage through to when you get paid, just as you would manage your bank account on line. We have a full time credit controller whose sole role is to make sure payments come in on time, a contracts manager who makes sure all contracts are signed and the relevant local laws are met, and an office manager who liaises with artists queries on demand. The service we provide to artists means that they need not worry about just sales, but accounts through to legal services; freeing them to focus on the art.

Olga Socha
Olga Socha Artist Liaison

Advocate started out similar to an artist's co-operative but grew quickly into a sales, marketing, legal, accounting, promotional, art management, web hosting, office. What we don't do is take control away from artists; we operate what we call a "transparent system". Transparency and control is essential when you are a freelance artist, for clients a slick invoice system is a prerequisite for doing business. We take the back office here at Advocate very seriously, after all it's about livelihoods!

The internship programme

We run an active internship program here at Advocate that we hope many students or career seekers will find very beneficial. We attract students in art history, design, illustration and related courses. We also employ bilingual agents so we attract language students as well.

We forge close links with many colleges and often invite students in for Q&A sessions where they can get advice on their portfolios. We were sponsors of the illustration exam question for the D&AD board and offered competition prizes including cash of £5000!

If you would like to see the inner workings of the leading artist representation agency, then the best way is to spend some time with us as an intern. You will share in our daily tasks such as folio management, site maintenance, project managing etc etc but no tea making I promise! You will learn how artists are briefed, what's hot and what you have to do as an illustrator to get work in the real world. We will give you a reference that will make a future employer cry, for the right reasons of course. Finally as a souvenir you get a sought after Advocate courier bag and we will pick up lunch and travel expenses if you complete the term. Minimum term is 10 working days - Maximum 30.

There is no mistaking that interns have become essential to the running of this busy agency. We get to spread the Advocate message around tomorrow's art and design professionals - internationally. We offer a recruiting platform (5 of our current staff were recruited from internships) and we get help, not cheap labour.

We also welcome international interns. If you have basic spoken and written English, we would love to hear from you. We would accommodate you in a local hotel and provide a meal and travel allowance. Interns must be EU citizens or have a valid work permit to work in the UK.

Advocate on tour

Meet Advocate at one of the following international exhibitions

  • Paperworld 2015 31 Jan - 3 Feb
  • Spring Fair 2015 1 Feb - 5 Feb | NEC, Birmingham, Hall 4, Stand E104
  • Bologna 2015 30 March - 2 April | Bologna Fiere, Hall 25, Stand A159
  • London Book Fair 2015 14 April - 16 April | London Olympia, Stand E19
  • Surtex 2015 17 May - 19 May | New York Javits, Stand 223
  • Book Expo America 2015 27 - 29 May
  • PG Live 2015 2 June - 3 June
  • Brand Licensing 2015 13 October - 15 October
  • Frankfurt Book Fair 2015 14 October - 18 October | Messe Frankfurt, Hall 6, Stand TBC