Creating art is only one part of being an artist. Every creative professional knows how much time and energy finding clients and promoting art takes. If you think you can’t do it on your own or feel like you need some professional guidance to advance your career, you should consider hiring an art agent. Agent representation can help you take your career to the next level. An experienced and knowledgeable agent will know how to effectively promote your work, send your portfolio to the right people, help you find paid work, and give your career growth a significant boost. Therefore, having that kind of a person by your side will enable you to use your time for what you actually like – creating art.
To help you find an agent that will suit your career needs best, we have compiled a few questions you should ask before hiring an agent. You need to know what an agent will do for you and how much it will cost you. Also, you need to figure out if having an agent representation is the right option for you. If it is, how should you go about getting one?
What is it that an art agent will do for you?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that all agents are made the same. Despite what you may think, not every agent will be able to provide you with the help you specifically need as an artist. There are many ways of doing the job of an art agent, so there is no telling if the one you have picked will be the right choice for you unless you ask them what they do exactly on behalf of their clients. Their answer will let you know if they offer the type of representation you need.
Typically, agents will represent you, promote your work, and sell it. However, there are many more reasons to hire an agent besides finding a larger audience for your work. For example, they can help you negotiate better contracts and increased pay. Moreover, they can scout for potential sponsored and buyers. They will also function as a middle man between you and other professional contacts, thus safeguarding your privacy.
It’s advisable to think about your career goals and then set out to find an agent who can help you achieve them. Do you want to sell your artwork? Do you need someone to scout out commission opportunities? Are you interested in appearing in the media or at important events?
How much are an art agent’s fees?
In most cases, the agent will take a percentage of what is sold. This is excellent because they will only receive payment when you do, rather than working on a retainer. However, it is essential to find out how big of a percentage will go to your agent and how you will perform the payment. Usually, agents will collect payments on your behalf and deduct their fees and other expenses. They will give a reminder to you. Therefore, you must know how much they will deduct and what the additional costs can be.
Who are the artists an agent has worked with before?
As in any other business, referrals are the best. So, what better person to tell you what to expect from an agent than their other clients. Talk to their previous clients and ask about their experience working with your prospective agent. Also, check they have delivered what they promised to the earlier artists. Knowing how someone has behaved in the past is the best way to predict their future actions. Therefore, if the person you are considering is hesitant regarding disclosing their previous clients, look elsewhere.
What do you need to do so your agent can be successful at their job?
A good agent will let you know from the start what it is you need to do for your cooperation to be a productive one. You need to know what their expectations from you are, so there are no unpleasant surprises later. Letting go of an agent who hasn’t been the right fit for you is one thing, but firing one who has had unreasonable expectations from you is a different story.
Check your potential agent’s credibility.
During an interview with a potential art agent, besides the questions mentioned before, be sure to get answers to the following:
- How long have you been working in the industry?
- How long have you been working as an agent?
- Have you ever worked as an art dealer, or have you ever owned a gallery?
- What are your academic qualifications?
- Do you have any professional qualifications?
- Who have you worked for? Watch out for any excessive embellishments.
Also, it is vital to observe how they look at your art. And allow them to ask you the questions. Listen carefully to what they ask you, and don’t be the only one asking questions.
Make sure their integrity is in check.
When you know what an agent can do for you, you must also understand how they will do it. Therefore, ask them how they promote artists. See what strategies they use. And again, we have mentioned the importance of referrals. So, be sure to ask for the references. You want them to relate to credible artists.
At the end of the day, remember that just as you are looking for agent representation that is the best fit for you, agents are also looking for artists who fit their goals and practices. You are in this together, and you want to find someone who understands and who will provide you with the services you need. There are quite a few questions to ask before hiring an art agent, but the answers to them will ensure that you make the right decision. When you find the right person for your particular needs, it’s vital that you both nurture your relationship — that is the only way to form a partnership that will be beneficial for both parties.
John Pricket is a consultant at Allstate Moving and Storage. His work has made him come across a few artists and art owners who needed their work transported. The special care that this type of work requires sparked his interest in art. Consequently, he tunneled this interest in writing blog posts concerning art preservation, incorporating art into home design, and the artists’ life.