Folio illustration agency was established in London in 1976.

We operate worldwide, representing a diverse group of talented illustrators and animators. Their work covers a complete spectrum of styles. From oil paintings and Animation to GIFs and infographics – you name it, our artists can deliver it.

We’re proud of the personal relationships that we have with our illustrators. By working closely together, we can ensure you get exceptional artwork, on time and on budget.

We’ve helped thousands of clients find the right illustrator for their projects. Drop us a line and tell us what you’re looking for. We’d love to hear from you.

10 Gate Street
London WC2A 3HP

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +44 (0)20 7242 9562
Fax: +44 (0)20 7242 1816

Folio's history

Established long before most other agencies, Folio has almost 50 years of industry experience.

The company was founded in a small basement shop when Nicholas Dawe, who still runs Folio today, had a vision of helping prospective illustrators establish their work.

The inspiration for Folio was Nick’s close friend, illustrator George Underwood, who produced early album covers for Davie Bowie, T-Rex, Mott the Hoople, and more. The connection with the music industry continued when Folio artist Joe Petagno designed Motorhead’s ‘Snaggletooth’ logo in 1977. Other bands with album art by Folio artists include the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd.

Work was not confined to the music industry, however, as Folio worked on some of the most prestigious advertising campaigns for the likes of British Airways and even produced an icon of the silver screen when Joe Petagno created the concept model for the ‘facehugger’ in Ridley Scott’s Alien – a prop which would haunt the office for years.

Before the internet and before digital illustration, there was Folio. In the 1980s, some of the artists would work at Folio’s light-filled studio near the British Museum, phones ringing, jobs coming in, couriers whizzing original artworks and transparencies across London. Some of the mechanics might have changed, but Folio’s professional approach and attention to detail remain invaluable to brands like Disney, Apple, Google, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Nike, Adobe and Audi, and agency clients such as Wunderman Thompson, McCann, Grey, BBH and Mother.

Folio has helped push the industry forward and develop best practices in support of artists; for example, in 1973 Folio was a founder member of the Association of Illustrators, in 1992 a founder member of the Society of Artists Agents and, in 2020, a founder member of Agents for Change.

Each decade has seen Folio involved in culture-defining artwork, from Syd Brak’s iconic glam-punk airbrush art for Athena in the 1980s to the Hed Kandi clubland digital illustrations pioneered by Jason Brooks in the 1990s and beyond. From billboards, movies and TV ads to album covers, magazines and packaging, over the years you have seen more art by Folio’s illustrators than you know.


Frequently asked questions (for clients)

An illustrator’s agent will vary their role depending on the individual artist, but generally speaking, an agent will help to manage aspects of the project like scheduling, contracts, pricing, and invoicing, allowing the illustrator to concentrate on what they do best: the creative part.

The agent is there to help the illustrator work effectively and also to help the client get the best work out of the illustrator. Some illustrators love to be directly involved with their clients, but some artists are a little more introverted and like the agent to assist with day-to-day communications.

You may have a style in mind already, or you may want some options to consider. Either way, you can send us an email with the name of the artist, a few reference images of a style you like, or even just a few sentences about your project, and we’ll be able to check the artist’s availability or send you some options to consider.

If you have a brief ready, send it over, and we can provide you with a few appropriate illustrators for the job. If you don’t have a brief, no problem – we’ll ask you some questions to get to know what you need.

The first step in a good project is a well-considered brief. The illustrator needs to know what you want. It’s always a good idea to have a succinct written brief that explains what you want to see illustrated. You might need one illustration or 20; the illustrator needs to know what each one should be and what they are going to be used for. They also need to know the technical specifications you require, such as the size, resolution, and format you need delivered. Finally, the artist needs to know when you need the work delivered and when you want to see sketches or check in on progress.

A good brief should include:

  • Descriptions of the subject matter
  • A list of deliverables (how many illustrations do you want?)
  • What the illustrations are going to be used for
  • Technical specifications
  • Key dates

In addition to these five things, we’ll need to know what license you need to calculate a price. (See Licensing Explained)

It’s also useful for us to see some examples of work you like, either from one of our artists or elsewhere, so we can get a sense of the style and complexity you need.

The best illustration briefs are clear and considered in their content but also leave room for the artist’s own creative freedom. They are experts in illustration, after all, so asking for their opinion on what will work well is probably a good idea.

You can read our blog post for a full and thorough guide to copyright and licensing if you wish, but the short version is that illustration, like any other creative work, is licensed to clients for specific purposes. 

That licence will cover:

  • Usage: What it’s going to be used for
  • Territory: Where it’s going to be used
  • Duration: How long it’s going to be used for

The illustrator owns the rights to their work and rents it out to clients. This means the client pays for only what they need and once they are done with the illustration, the artist is free to relicense their creative work elsewhere.

Prices for illustrations vary depending on a few main factors:

  • The artist you choose
  • The complexity of what you need
  • How the work will be used (The licence)
  • How quickly you need it completed

If you can give us a thorough brief, we’ll be able to provide you with a quote based on these factors. 

If you know which illustrator you want to work with, that’s easy! If not, but you know what style you like, you can contact us and send us a few reference images and we’ll be able to direct you to a few illustrators that fit your project. 

If you don’t know what style you want, you can tell us a bit about your project and what you hope to achieve and we can make some recommendations. We know our artist’s work inside and out, so we’ll be able to find a good fit for you, or we’ll be able to point you in the right direction. 

We also have a search function on our website to search illustrations by subject, medium, and format. It works great, but speaking to an agent is usually the fastest way to find the best fit for your project.

Most of the illustrations in the artist’s portfolios have been commissioned by a client in the past. Some of them will still be under license, but many of them will be free to relicense. If you see something you like, feel free to email it to us here, and include a description of what you are looking for, so we can offer some other options for you to consider.

After receiving a brief and discussing it, the first stage will generally be for the artist to work on rough sketches so you can see the composition and how they would like to present your idea. Illustrator’s sketches vary quite a lot. Some will be very rough pencil thumbnail sketches, some artists prefer to jump straight into digital software to draw the basic outlines of the image. Some will be very rough, some might look quite polished. 

At this point, you have the opportunity to give feedback and make changes if needed. At the sketch stage, changes are easy to make. Once the artwork is more developed, it becomes more difficult to change things without wasting a lot of time. We encourage you to consider the sketch carefully and make changes as needed. 

After the sketch stage, typically you will receive a colour version that has been developed further and you will be able to get a better sense of how the final illustration will look. Again, you will have the opportunity to give feedback at this stage. 

The next thing you receive from the illustrator will be the final illustration. Of course, there may be some final adjustments to make, but if thorough feedback has been given along the way, this last stage should be more or less complete.

We typically allow three rounds of feedback for a project. If more are needed, it will affect the price. Every artist is different in what they present at each stage, but it is generally rough sketches, colour version & final version.

Frequently asked questions (for illustrators)

Not every illustrator needs an agent, not every illustrator wants one, and not every illustrator wants to pay for one! An agent offers a service. That service is to find work for you and manage those projects. The agency is paid, usually by a commission, or a percentage of the fee. Some illustrator’s feel the agent is taking money away from them. If that’s your opinion, you won’t ever be happy with an agent. The best artist/agent relationship are when both parties work as a team. The agency doesn’t make any money if the illustrator doesn’t work, so financially speaking, at the very least, the agency wants you to be successful. 

Agents will negotiate fees for you, they will introduce your work to new clients, and even simply appearing on an illustration agency website will increase the number of opportunities you are exposed to. 

Clients work with agencies because they trust the quality of the artists that are chosen by the agency. They can also see many great artists in one place, without having to scour the internet for the right illustration style. 

Not every agency is a good fit for every artist. In a long illustration career, you may work with several agents before you find the perfect fit. If you try working with an agent and realise it’s not for you, then at least you’ll know.

We love seeing new illustration submissions. Unfortunately, we can’t get back to every one we receive. 

To ensure your work is seen by the right people, please read our guide to illustration agency submissions and then email us a short introduction to your work and a few jpg sample images and a link to your website. Email your illustration submissions to [email protected]

Different agencies will look for different qualities in an illustrator, but generally speaking, we are not interested in complete beginners. We want to see an artist that knows how to conduct themselves professionally, can find work for themselves, and has a few clients under their belt. 

  • The illustrator should have a recognisable, unique illustration style
  • The illustrator must have professional technical skills
  • The illustrator needs to be able to communicate professionally
  • The illustrator needs to be honest and reliable
  • The illustrator should be able to follow a brief

The only way we can see that you can demonstrate some of these qualities is if you are already working successfully with clients. Even if your illustration style is incredible, without any professional experience, we don’t know that you possess the other qualities, that’s why we don’t generally consider an inexperienced illustrator

You can download our general terms and conditions here. These are general T&Cs for illustration projects, and will not apply to every project, but we consider these to be reasonable for most projects. They are in line with guidance given by The Association of Illustrators.

Folio is committed to upholding your privacy and safeguarding the personal data you share with us. Under the law, we are required to provide certain details regarding our collection, use and protection of your personal data – this information is outlined in our Privacy Policy. If you have any queries about how Folio uses your personal data after reading the Privacy Policy, please contact us.

Over our almost five decades as a London illustration agency, we have worked with some of the most amazing illustrators, artists and creatives in recent generations. In our Folio Legacy section, we’ve assembled a few portfolios of the most influential, beautiful or otherwise powerful work that we’ve had the honour of passing through our agency.