Bob's ART du Jour

Hi, I'm Bob Eggleton and this is my painting and "life in general blog" but mostly paintings. Usually they're for sale. Anyway, if you like something contact me at zillabob@cox.net and ENJOY!!

My Photo
Name:
Location: New England, United States

I am a Hugo award-winning fantasy/SF artist who works on both publishing projects and film concept work(such as Jimmy Neutron and most recently, The Ant Bully) but I have a passion for landscape work, small paintings and exploring the properties of paint. This blog will mostly showcase my "painting-for-the-day" as kind of a personal voyage. I'll also be inserting sketches,photos and ideas of projects I am working on, that I can, when I can, so look for those every so often(usually as paint is drying!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

THINGS THEY DON'T TEACH YOU IN ART SCHOOL: Agents

One of the biggest misunderstood relationships in art, occurs when the artist and his or her agent do not see eye to eye. Agents are used by some artists who are either bad with handling their own self-promotion OR lack the social graces to be able to deal with a client on a one-to-one basis. The typical "Art Agent" takes something like 35-45% of the fee. So say you get paid $1000 to do a job, the agent will take something like $350-$450 right off the top and suddenly, you've lost quite a bit for what is, your hard work. I had nothing but bad experience with those kind of agents. You depend on their well-being and being able to perform in order for you to be working. Also, many of these kinds of agents are "inclusive" meaning, that, even if you get a job on your own out of the blue, they still get something like 10-15% of what you got!!

Typically, the agent likes to "pigeonhole" an artist. I had one that insisted on calling me an "Technical Airbrush Artist" and marketed me as that. I hated it. Because I did more than airbrush and now, have since given up airbrushing because of health reasons and...painting in oils is just *better*. If I did anything else, this agent didn't want to show it, which means I couldn't grow as an artist. Also, this person, I found out, had a "substance addiction". Clients paid this person soon enough, but the excuse given was "They haven't paid yet". And the truth was, it was going up this person's nose and the hope they had was getting money later to pay the artists!!! Finally, the agent tried to "launder" some money via a job I was doing-this person insisted that they were entitled to a percentage from another job I had gotten on my own. The job I was doing just happened to be enough for the percentage, and basically, the agent kept it and made it appear,on paper, as if I had received the money at the end of the year. There was no issue with what I did, but, this person tried to in effect, launder money. That was the straw that broke the camel's back.

So I broke ranks with this person and left them to their own and haven't looked back(and it's been 17 years). Still another agent-who was an artist- was "repping" artists and then, the artists did HIS jobs and he'd sign HIS name to the work!! And still another had her art-director husband comment and ART DIRECTING the work that he had nothing to do with!!!

I am sure there are a few agents that are good, and I do know a few. But largely it was a negative experience. Sometimes, certain "large" corporations insist on an "Agent interface" because they, cannot deal with us beatnik artist types.

The other kind of agent that has worked out has been Licensing Reps. What they do is assign rights to work, for books, puzzles, drink coasters, stationary, checks, etc. All this is simply "found money" and that works great. Nothing but good experience there. There is a different style and approach these kinds of reps take. You lose nothing and have everything to gain in many cases.

So, that's my speel on Artist Agents. A lot of people get really screwed by some, and it's out of sheer innocence and ignorance of the fact that Reps are more like Lawyers than anyone creative-they're out to feather their own nests.

6 Comments:

Blogger Jimmy said...

I have an artist friend who had a licensing rep that was screwing them around. IIRC, he was one of these fast talkers who would go off your conversations, and take that as a verbal agreement (when you were just discussing) and start marketing your items. Another problem was that they had another licensing rep who covered certain types of items exclusively for them. This new rep was told that he could not market that type item, but he did anyway. After the artist canceled the contract with the rep, he still kept selling the work.

As with all things check around with people about artist reps of any kind. Check with other artists about their experience with reps, or even who they might recommend.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Annalisa said...

Gosh, thanks for the words of warning; I rarely ever hear ANYTHING about artists' reps so it's good to encounter any information about them. Words of warning are definitely welcome. I got some good advice (I think) at the Illustration Master Class this past June, that every artist should take at least one business course. Then we can be more business savvy about our work instead of leaving it up to (so-called) professionals.

"The truth was, it was going up this person's nose" made me laugh.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Bob Eggleton (Zillabob) said...

Jimmy-yep, some of the higher profile ones can be really bad and out and out crooked. I take a long time to trust any one who wants to be "in" business with me.

Annalisa-yep, a business course and a good accountant always work well. Again, you have to get a good accoutant who understands artists.

5:53 PM  
Blogger chrisjouan said...

There are times I wonder if I need an agent-like when the assignments are slow in coming. Then I read things like this and I don't wonder anymore!

8:55 AM  
Blogger Ralph Voltz said...

Personally, I have a very good agent who does bring me lots of work. The fee is flat at %25 where it should be. It has helped me free up time I don't spend on promotion.
In my experience, the worst that could happen is that they don't deliver the work. That's happend to me too, so I moved on. The only big advise I would give is don't pay them, except for the cut of a job they deliver.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Bob Eggleton (Zillabob) said...

Ralph-there are some good ones, and my experience was with a loser(or two) anyway. The thing that always got me was the way they wanted to "market" you to someone. Or they'd want you to work up "spec" pieces to show someone. Usually I don't have a problem getting work. I do well. In fact I cut my income in half, ten years ago for health and tax reasons-I was killing myself making a six figure income and, no time for anything and, paying massive taxes. I cut the income in half, and while still paying taxes, it's ALOT easier to deal with and, I have time for a life.

3:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home