How to submit work to an illustration agency
Illustration agents love to see new work. The business thrives on new talent and original illustration styles. However, illustration agencies receive sometimes hundreds of submissions a week, so how do you stand out? How do you guarantee your work will be seen by the right people? And what is the best way to submit work to an illustration agency?
The short answer is: if your work is good, it will get looked at, but there may be some barriers standing in the way of getting your portfolio in front of the right people.
First you need to be honest with yourself and ask: “Am I ready for an illustration agent?” Often an illustration agency won’t consider an artist for representation if they don’t have some clients of their own or haven’t proven themselves capable of working in a professional environment. Getting an agent shouldn’t be your first priority after leaving university and is not a shortcut to fame and fortune. You have to put in the work and prove yourself first. You don’t need to have worked for the biggest clients in the world, but the difference between a professional portfolio and a personal portfolio is a big one. You should be able to demonstrate that you are a professional illustrator.
How to submit your work
Each agency has their preferred way of receiving illustration submissions, so you should take the time to research each one before you click send.
Below is a list of illustration agencies and their guidelines on submitting work. It is far from being a complete list, but we have noted some key points you should consider at the end.
- Folio – Email a few low res jpg files with a link to your website to [email protected]
- Debut Art – Email [email protected] with link to your website or social media with an introduction and a pdf of a selection of your work.
- Handsome Frank – Handsome Frank ask you to check that your style doesn’t overlap with their other artists and send no less that 9 low res jpgs (approx 1000px longest edge) to [email protected] They do not accept zip files or submissions only containing a link.
- JSR Agency – JSR also ask you consider if your work overlaps with their other artists. Send a pdf of your best work, with a link, to [email protected]
- Central Illustration Agency – Send 6 low res images or a link to [email protected]
- The Artworks – Send a link to your website and 5/6 low res jpgs to [email protected]
- Heart Agency – Send a website link and brief explanation of why you are seeking representation to [email protected]
- Illustration Web – Will not accept email submissions, but have an online form to fill in.
- Lemonade illustration agency – This is a really useful, albeit strict list of guidelines. Email [email protected] with a link to your website and the reasons you are approaching them. Professionally presented emails only; they do not accept emails with attachments; do not accept unsolicited phone-calls; do not look at emails if you have cc’d in other agencies and do not accept emails that aren’t addressing Lemonade specifically. They also ask for submissions to have one signature style.
- NB Illustration – send an email no larger than 1mb with a brief introduction and 72dpi RGB jpgs to [email protected] Emails with only a link will get put into spam.
- Agency Rush – Send no more than 6 low res samples to [email protected]
- Bright Agency – 10-12 low res jpgs to [email protected] No other file formats or zip files accepted.
Some of these guidelines for illustration submissions differ, Illustration Web and Lemonade illustration agency presumably do not want their inboxes filling up with images and prefer to be able to look through submissions when they are ready.
There are however, a lot of similarities…
10 things to consider when submitting work to an illustration agency
- Read each agency’s submission guidelines and follow them.
- Send low resolution jpgs. 72dpi, save for web, around 1000px longest edge is a good size. Anything bigger than that is going to take longer to load and clog up the agency’s inbox.
- Introduce yourself: Write a couple of sentences about you and your work and why you are seeking representation.
- While illustration is an informal industry, your email should be professional, personalised, to the point and spelled correctly.
- Feel free to send a short client list, but don’t send a CV.
- Do not send a blanket email with other agencies cc’d in to the email. That shows a lack of attention to detail and a lack of respect.
- Do not send multiple emails. If your images don’t fit on one email, you’re doing something wrong. Refer to the guidelines above and try again.
- Consider the other artists represented by the agency. Is your work very similar to another artist? If so, it is unlikely the agency will be able to take you on. If an artist with a specific style sees that the agency have taken on another artist with a very similar style, they will feel like they are having to compete for work within their own agency, and probably aren’t going to be happy about it.
- Make it as easy as possible for the agency to look at more of your work. Send a link to your portfolio.
- No download links, no zip files and no high resolution images.
You will notice that none of the guidelines above mention postal submissions. While it can be a really nice treat to get an awesome print or well designed mail-out in the post, it isn’t necessary, and can be a waste of your hard earned money. You do not have to spend a lot of time and money to get your work noticed. Once you are earning enough from your illustrations, by all means make some interesting mail-outs, but if you are just starting out and can’t afford to eat, it shouldn’t be a priority.
Even if your work isn’t quite right for the agency at the time, if you submit your work the correct way it will get looked at, so why discount yourself? Take 10 minutes and do the research. It will make all the difference!
If you find this post useful or know someone who will, please feel free to share it. We hope this helps you on your quest to becoming a successful illustrator.