Molly Jacques for The Wall Street Journal

Molly Jacques for The Wall Street Journal

Good morning everyone and welcome back to The Freelance Diaries. Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with a fellow freelance lettering artist, Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn, about her experience working with an agent.

This week, I'm continuing the discussion on working with an agent but from my point of view! I've been working with my art rep Joanie for almost eight months now (man, time flies!) and she totally keeps me sane. Keep on reading to hear my take on the subject...

Q: How were you approached by your agent?


I was approached by my art rep in mid August of 2013. Joanie pretty much just sent me a message letting me know she was into the work I was doing. She wanted to see if we could try out a partnership for a month or so and see if it would benefit the both of us. I was already working full time on freelance work when she reached out.


I thought a lot about the commitment BEFORE I said yes. I actually reached out to a friend of mine (he's also the bossman in CCS Illustration department, my mentor, and also a previous professor of mine), Don Kilpatrick. Don has been working with a rep for YEARS and I knew he would have honest feedback for me. He's the one who gave me the push in the right direction and told me plainly that having a agent isn't for everyone but it's fantastic for some.


Q: How does having an agent benefit your approach to work?


This is the real reason that I signed on with Joanie. You see - I'm actually really bad at organization, cold calls, sending out follow up emails, etc., etc. I knew before I even signed on with Joanie that I would continue to get work because, well, I was already getting work without her. I didn't necessarily need her to get me MORE work - I needed her to get me the work I actually wanted. My dream clients. I also needed her to chase down payments (not to mention get the $$ I deserved for a project), send out invoices, follow up with potential clients, and manage numbers. She has totally saved my butt in that department.


Molly Jacques for Grand Rapids Magazine

Molly Jacques for Grand Rapids Magazine


Working with Joanie has benefited my approach to work because now I can focus my full attention on CREATING. I don't have to worry about the administrative side of things anymore. Now I know I have someone in my corner who has my back and will hold me accountable. Totally 100% worth the percentage I pay her out of my jobs because I'm less stressed and more productive now.


Q: Do you feel like you get more jobs?


This is a funny question. Working with my agent, I now get less jobs... I know this sounds funny but it's actually a GOOD thing. Instead of working on 50 small jobs a month that pay pennies, I now get to work on maybe 1-3 large jobs a month with dream clients that are willing to pay what the artwork is actually worth. This is a win-win situation guys. More free time on my end and more love for the work that I actually AM doing.


Molly Jacques for ShopSmart Magazine

Molly Jacques for ShopSmart Magazine


Q: How do you and your agent work together to prepare for dry spells?


I think working together to prepare for dry spells is pretty limited. Joanie does her absolute best to promote my work each week (including working with me on my upcoming mailer promos... so excited!).


Molly Jacques Workshop

Molly Jacques Workshop

That said - when you work with a rep, It's important to have realistic expectations. It's not your agent's job to help you prepare for dry spells. It's YOUR job. Being a freelancer means feast or famine. It's my responsibility to save money for when It's famine time. I've actually created a system where I can supplement my income during these times by teaching and selling fonts. I'm a busy girl but I know it's the smart thing to do. I also LOVE teaching and designing fonts. Another win-win for team Molly/Joanie.


Q: Any down sides? Who might be a wrong fit for an agent/illustrator relationship and why?


Honestly, no down sides for me. Like I stated above, I think working with a rep is the right fit for me. I pay Joanie a % of each job that I deem totally worth it.

I think someone who is the WRONG fit for a rep is someone who is just starting out and barely has a distinctive style they feel comfortable with. Someone who can't take criticism. Someone who isn't willing to show process work or make revisions to their artwork. Someone who doesn't grasp the fact that Illustration is a business - not fine art. I'm not saying you can't be extremely creative with illustration, but it's important to realize that your work is FOR A CLIENT - NOT YOURSELF.

Another person who would be a wrong fit is an illustrator who thinks that their rep is 100% responsible for their paycheck each month. I think the reason my relationship with my rep works so well is because I have the mentality that my illustration and design business is mine. It's my responsibility to pay my own bills and put food on the table. Joanie runs her own business. She's not my employee or someone who "works for me". We mutually benefit each other. It's a team effort. Individuals who need to blame their lack of income on anyone other than themselves are not a good fit for an agent.

So, that's my two cents! Until next week ladies and gents...



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