Do visual artists have agents?
January 17, 2005 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Is there such a thing as an Agent or Manager for an artist? Something similar to that role in the music or acting industry. If so, under what woodwork would these people be located?

So far, the local coffee shop shows, craft shows, & web connections (message boards, collector's blogs) haven't been fruitful. Marketing is neither my strong suit, nor my preferred one. I would gladly give up a 25-30% cut to a good Agent that can match the work with the buyer - if such a person exists.
posted by yoga to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are art dealers not sufficient? Isn't the role of an art dealer more or less that of an agent?
posted by xmutex at 2:14 PM on January 17, 2005

Art dealer/gallery owner. Where I live they take 50%.
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 2:27 PM on January 17, 2005

Art dealers are different than agents. The dealers, or galleries, usually make a percentage off of anything they show for you (usually 40-50%). On the other hand, an agent typically makes a percentage off of anything you sell at any point (like 10-20%) after you sign on with them. The theory being that the agent only gets paid for any work they do on your behalf once something sells. So agents are picky as to who they will take on as clients. I think that's why having an agent is more associated with mainstream, more sellable art, or at least the more high profile stuff (though I suppose that's a chicken/egg thing...). (Btw, the above percentages are why original art is so expensive! :)

I am a painter and I currently have an art agent, but she is a non-traditional one in that she's just getting her art agent/gallery business off the ground. So she works for a set amount for everything she does for me, instead of for a commission on work sold. It's an arrangement that works well for us. If you would like any more information about her, I can direct you to her site. Feel free to email me.

Good luck! I checked out the stuff on your site and I love your watercolor/drawings...
posted by eileen at 2:43 PM on January 17, 2005

The Artist's and Graphic Designer's Market (ed. Mary Cox) has a chapter on Artist Representatives. Most of these are looking for work they can license for wrapping paper, greeting cards etc. There is also a listing of galleries and the work they accept.

Eileen is correct that agents usually will only represent work that has already reached a certain level of popularity or sales. That's why so many artists have to learn the fine art of self-promotion.
posted by jabo at 3:11 PM on January 17, 2005

Yes there are tons of agents for artists. The hard part is getting the agent to want you.

I agree with Jabo, the best thing to do is get the 2005 Artist's and Graphic Des Market.

Not to be a shameless plug here, but I picked up my agent by sending out promo material to all agencies. I did this several times over a six month period. I went through three snakes of an agent until I found an angel.

I sort of have first hand experience with this and will be more than happy to assist you in anyway, please feel free to email me at scott at sthig dot com
posted by Hands of Manos at 6:38 PM on January 17, 2005

Response by poster: Yes, I am looking for an agent, not a gallery. Thanks very much, all, I will be in touch.
posted by yoga at 10:44 AM on January 18, 2005

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