Artist Representative for Illustrators: Pros & Cons

Should I have an Artist Representative or not?

Girl at a desk posing as an artist representative

Not a real rep, but an actress, acting as one. See how busy she is, finding you all that work?

An Artist Representative can be a good thing or not.

I am often asked, “Will, should I have a rep?”
I don’t really know if you should have an artist representative or not, or even if I should, but… I have certainly played this game with and without a rep. So I can make a list of pros and cons and give my opinion. So here goes.



Pros of having an artist representative

Can get more work

Can get better work

Can get different work

Can make more money on each assignment, because your rep will be charging more, or should I say, the rep is a better negotiator than you I.

Can avoid doing a lot of paper work.

Can avoid doing the collections part of the job.

Can avoid doing all that prospecting, finding work, advertising, marketing, constantly hunting for jobs. All that stuff that you DID NOT become an artist to do. Stuff your artist representative can do and probably wants to do.

It’ validating to have a rep, Makes you feel good about yourself. You can say, “I am such a good illustrator that I have a rep out sorting out all kinds of clients that want my artwork.

Can spend more time creating and being an artist.

So there are the pros, or some of the pros, the ones that I was able to think of.

Cons of having an Artist Representative

On the Cons side, well…

You have to pay for that rep, they aren’t going to work for free. That is usually 25-30%.

A lot of times you give up the right to find or seek your own work.

You don’t know if your jobs are being diverted. Sometimes reps will give work intended for you, to another artist that they represent.

Takes longer to get paid.

You may be persuaded to take jobs that are not a good fit for you. This happened to me and is the reason I parted ways with one of my earlier reps.

You will probably pay your rep a commission on any job you land on your own.

You are dependent on that rep, so if for any reason you part ways, you are done. You have given up so much control and now you have to either find another rep or get back in the game.

Your rep might be a crappy artist representative. A lot of the good reps are not eager to take on new illustrators. They have the ones they are comfortable working with and they are established and they may not even want you.

And there are the cons.

Advice for artists considering getting a representative.

I have three points of advice.

1) Don’t even think about hiring a rep until you’ve been freelancing, on your own for at least two and better yet, three years. Learn the ropes, work in the trenches etc. This will give you a good perspective. Otherwise you may not be ready for a rep. You could end up, tied to a looser rep. If they were willing to take you on when you were such a beginner, it may be because they were a beginner too.

A better illustrator can attract a better rep. Have some clients already, have some work under your belt and some experience. Learn the marketing, the negotiating, the communicating and the collecting.

2) If you are considering a rep and they are willing to take you on and you are going to join their group, ask them for a list of who the represent and for their contact info. If they say no, that’s a bad sign. I know of three or four that would say “No” and it’s because their artists art all mad at them, there are problems. A good rep will have happy artists working with them. You want to know if the rep will pay you on time, if they will actually rep you.

My first rep gave me the names and numbers of her artists and I only had to call a few to know that she was a good rep. Those artists said I was lucky that she was considering me.

And 3) Don’t ever give up your right to marked your own work. You can look at a contract and cross things out or ask them to. After being an artist for over twenty five years, I would NEVER give up that right. You never want to be sitting on your hands, waiting for them to find work for you.

Remember, that contract is ONLY to help and protect the rep, look at it closely and strike a few lines if necessary.

One of my favorite reps ever was JoAnne Schuna. She was kind, ethical and everything that you would want in a rep.


I hope this helps, I am sure I’ve left things out, and I hope some of you have some great things to add to this, if so, feel free to add your comments on this subject.


PS, today, June 6, is my best friend’s birthday. Wayne Andreason is 54 today. Happy birthday Wayne.

Keep drawing and painting and if you need a little help, there’s

Do I Need a Rep or Agent to Sell My Artwork?

Artist Will Terry specifically answers the big question,

Is it worth it to hire that Rep?

Agents and reps are struggling too right now.

Thanks to the internet, you are competing with a lot of other artists, but you are also allowed to, and can afford to compete with everyone.

Will Terry used to spend up to $7500 to advertise in one workbook, before the WWW in the mid 90’s.