TFD: WORKING WITH AN AGENT PART I
Good morning everyone and welcome back to The Freelance Diaries. This week, I had the pleasure of chatting with a fellow freelance lettering artist, Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn, about her experience working with an agent.
Working with an agent can be a perfect fit for some and it can be a nightmare for others. It's honestly not for everyone.
That being said - I have been utterly blessed to be represented by my agent. Forming this business relationship with my art rep has seriously been one of the best decisions I've ever made in my freelance career. But that story will be for another week =)
Let's give a huge welcome to Shauna...
My name is Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn (also known as Shauna Parmesan) and I am a 26-year-old hand lettering artist in Orlando, Florida, and I am represented by Illustration LTD. Recently Molly approached me to write a blog post for her Freelance Diaries about working with an agent and the positives and negatives of it.
Q: How were you approached by your agent?
In fall 2012, I had been practicing lettering for about 2 years every night and found I wanted to gain more freelance work. I had heard about working with agents in order to garner extra freelance work and wanted to try my luck at gaining representation by one. So I sought out Google and researched several different agencies and sent in my work. I received an email back from one of the scouts at Illustration LTD who said they would show my work at the next review. Unfortunately, at the time my work wasn’t ready, but she invited me to submit again in a few months.
In October 2012, I moved to Orlando for a new job where I still continued to letter in my free time every evening, and in February 2013, I was let go from that job. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified about what I was going to do next, but with the support and encouragement of my parents (and telling myself that I would make this work no matter what) I decided to pursue lettering full time and contacted Illustration LTD again. In the meantime, I also sent my work in to about ten other agencies and received several rejections. In April 2013, I had the opportunity to letter a chalk cover for Jacksonville Magazine, which landed me representation with my agents in June 2013. All in all the process, for me, was about 8 months of hard work and submitting work.
Q: How does having an agent benefit your approach to work?
I am awful at promoting and pricing myself. I had a bad habit of vastly underpricing my work and hated chasing clients down for their invoice payments. I actually had one client who ended up canceling a project, offering a kill fee, and when I invoiced him the following day for the kill fee, I never heard back, even after chasing him down two more times after that, to this day it is still unpaid.
With the agents, they know the competitive pricing in the illustration field, and for a small cut of each job, take care of invoicing, chasing payments, promotion and pricing (a fee I’m more than willing to pay). This allows me to put all my focus into my work and into doing the best job I can on each project and meeting the deadlines. It takes a very large weight off my shoulders.
Q: Do you feel like you get more jobs?
I managed to get my agent when I was still in my starting stages (under 6 months) of my freelance career, so I didn’t have many jobs to begin with. But when July hit, it was insane. I was constantly busy from July until the end of December, working for clients I would have not normally had the opportunity to work with. Some large clients, some smaller, but every email in my inbox for a new job excited me. It still does. I’ve had some recently that have caused me to start dancing around my studio!
Q: How do you and your agent work together to prepare for dry spells?
I’ve learned this past year that January and February are very slow months. I had a few inquiries in January, but they never went through due to the direction of the project changing. So I learned that next year, January is a good time for me to focus on personal work and enjoying the break. The agents still do a lot of promotion throughout the year to help keep the dry spells at bay, but you can only do so much.
Q: Any down sides? Who might be a wrong fit for an agent/illustrator relationship and why?
For me, personally, there are no downsides. I get to focus on what I do best and someone else takes care of the rest. For others, there may be some downsides. I think it really depends on the agency you're with and their practices.
Someone who would probably not be a good fit would be one that has to be in control of the whole process, from pricing to contracts, etc., and doesn’t like to relinquish that control. However, I have found the experience so positive that I couldn’t see my work life without an agent.
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Shauna! Be sure to head on over to Shauna's website to see some of her beautiful lettering. While you're at it - follow her on Instagram and Twitter! This gal is really making some great stuff.
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