The SAA are very pleased to be supporting the World Illustration Awards by sponsoring The SAA Agents Award for New Talent.

Meet Jarvis – en route to rock stardom

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We took some time to catch up with Jarvis, Author and Illustrator of  ‘Alan’s Big Scary Teeth’   – a beautifully illustrated, heart-warming tale with a twist and a good moral at it’s core (published by Walker Books and available from 6th February 2016). Although writing and illustrating is his full time job, Jarvis hopes one day that Coldplay will need him to play guitar for them. Whilst waiting for the call, he’s been busy making books for kids and answering some very important questions…


Advice and Insights from Phosphor’s Top Artists

Phosphor Art are running a feature on their website called Meet the Artist, a simple five question interview which aims to gain a better insight into the world of their artists. Most recently featured was Chinese artist Nod Young who told Phosphor all about his current self-initiated comic book project and advises aspiring artists to grab every opportunity.

A new interview will be uploaded monthly so look out for July’s interview, which will feature the work of Jenny Lloyd.

See all previous interviews and some other news here:

The Winter Children by Jenny Lloyd 1


 Jenny Lloyd is represented by Phosphor Art

BBC’s Antique Roadshow Detectives Visit Artist Partners

Earlier in the year the team from BBC’s Antique Roadshow Detectives visited our office to film part of an episode at Artist Partners HQ. The story centres around Shirley Thompson, an AP artist represented in the 60's - 70's  whose beautiful  illustrations were found in a skip many decades ago, preserved and cherished before finding their way back to her family all these years afterwards.

Shirley’s fashion illustrations are exquisite and the artwork rescued in this story were for a Burberry catalogue in the 60s.

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A lovely story and an interesting watch! You can catch the episode here and scroll to 16mins 27 seconds


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Artist Partners

In conversation with Harry Lyon-Smith, director at Illustration Ltd



Please give a short summary of your company history and provide a bit of information about yourself and how you got into the business?

The agency was started in 1929 by a lady by the name of Katherine Boland, and it was called the Katherine Boland Studio. She ran it with her sister until 1970 when John Havergal bought it on their retirement. He changed the name to The Garden Studio, reflecting its location in Covent Garden, London. 15 years later after various experiments into publishing and greetings cards, John found that it was the agency part that was most enjoyable and rewarding.

It's in 1985 that I found myself delivering portfolios to him as a motorcycle courier aged 20. I was paying off some college debts, and found myself quite regularly at John's door. An acquaintance evolved, which developed into a friendship and a job offer to join him as a trainee agent. (Train me he did, his professionalism and duty to our artists being very much alive in the agency 30 years on.) A decade or so later he invited me to be a junior partner, and a few years after that he retired and we made arrangements for the business to carry on.


inside the office on Albert Embankment


How would you describe your day-to-day role as an illustrators’ agent?

(i.e. finding work, finding new clients, serving regular clients, managing accounts, scheduling artists time)

The agency has evolved into a more plural operation than the 1 man band it once was and it is what we do as a team that answers this question.

On the coal face, so to speak, there are 10 agents dotted around the globe who manage enquiries and jobs. Three are involved in the financial side of the operation, four handle marketing and promotion, and a further three vitally work with our artists and the agent team, keeping the portfolios looking great, managing new artists submissions and talent scouting.


The team!


What are the commercial advantages for artists represented by your agency?

Immediately anyone joins us, and their work is live on our site, they have a large international audience of commissioners. We have an expanding number of agents in new developing territories, and work comes in from all corners of the world. Our website has been around from very early days in the history of the web, and it has enabled us to keep principle positions on the google rankings.

We are a large agency by most measures and with that comes advantages. Such as the scale and range of the illustrators that we represent for the clients seeking top flight creative is rare that we can’t offer an option that is either bang on, or pretty damn close, or perhaps an exciting alternative that takes their creative to new places. This rewards the agency with loyal and regular customers enjoying very friendly, consistent and professional service from our artists and the agent team.

We have developed a payment system that gets everyone paid either all or a portion of the fees quite soon after invoice.

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Artists represented by Illustration Ltd


What other benefits can an artist gain from being represented by you?

(i.e. Negotiating contracts, rights and usage licenses, support, time to work)

Our management systems ensures that as soon as a job is confirmed, the paper work is done and emailed to the artist and the client, with all the licences, fees, terms, deadlines etc clearly set out. The jobs are monitored and managed on a unique and efficient software, that we have been evolving for 2 decades. It connects to all the agents and gives us extraordinary flexibility to keep on top of jobs and help deliver clients top jobs, whilst alleviating pressure from the artists.

Furthermore, all the billing is automatically done when the job is finished, and a strict payment collection process is instigated….we hardly have artists chasing us for monies nowadays. If they do need the fee before it has been paid, we have an option that pays immediately if they wish.

artists page 2


What are the benefits of networking within the wider artistic community?

(i.e. SAA Members, AOI & ProAction, events )

There are many good agents looking after the best interests of artists that they represent, and we admire them for their qualities...often with professional jealousies, that sharpens us up. However there are other agents that one hears who do not adhere to the standards that we have always held. The great thing about the SAA is that we know that the other members behave as per the constitution, and that is professional and fair. There are other agents who do as well, and we would like them to join the SAA to help develop our industry into a more influential and recognised barer of professional influence and practice.

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Scrapbook Live 3

ScrapBook Live 2

Scrapbook Live event - Exhibition by 21 Illustrators from Illustration Ltd - London's Griffin Gallery


How do you help your artists develop their portfolio and market?

Every Wednesday morning the team gathers and we review about a dozen or so of our artists portfolios, the jobs they have done, the marketing and promotion that we are doing, along with future plans. After this we have a good discussion with the artists, going through all the points raised, and sending a written report of it all. This we do 4 times a year with every artist on a formal setting, and of course a great deal more less formally in the throws of day to day business. Additionally we have regular meet ups, that we call ‘Face to faces”, that can either be in the office, by video conference or with a glass in hand...depending on location etc. It is all about enjoying spooling the artist’s and teams’ experiences that spark ideas and approaches that have client doors flying open.


What do you consider is the main role and responsibilities of the illustrators you represent to help you to build their career?

(i.e. Flexibility, punctual with deadlines, importance of personal work to help develop an artist’s visual language etc)

A static portfolio will sooner or latter begin to fail any artist. We have seen this countless times and is probably without exception. So a continuously evolving portfolio has to be part of the essence of any illustrator’s career. Otherwise it is all about being a professional, delivering beyond expectation and utterly charming to work with. If you need any help with the last point (and we all do) read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Cheesey in title, but there is a reason it has been the top selling self help book for over 100 years. Everyone joining us in the office has to read is law in our shop.

In conversation with Christine Isteed, MD at Artist Partners

This month we are quizzing Christine Isteed from agency Artist Partners about her career as an agent in one of the most established agency in the UK


Please give a short summary of your company history and provide a bit of information about yourself and how you got into the business?


Artist Partners was founded in 1951- by Donovan Candler, John Barker, Arthur Rix, Betty Luton White and Reginald Mount who was the artistic director of the company.

The office was in a stylish Georgian building in Mayfair - Representing British and Internationally famous artists and designers and photographers such as :

Saul Bass, George Him, Patrick Tilley, Tom Eckersley, Herbert Leupin, Savignac Topolski, Heinz Kurth and many other artists .AP also had a very strong group of fashion illustrators like Aubrey Rix, Beryl Hartland, Alistair Michie, and figurative artists Susan Einzeg and Harry Hants, Ken Wynn and Ben Ostrick who worked across all fields of publishing and advertising. Later to represent photographers too Zoltan Glass and Adrian Flowers just to name a few. All their work shows very much the valued quality and heritage of illustration.

This was an excellent era for creative people as post war markets had expanded and their skills were being recognised and creative talents were appreciated as tools to advance the economy. Many of the AP artists were being used in the 1951 Festival of Britain on the South Bank near to AP’s new home in Waterloo.


Brian Sanders illustration for Woman’s Magazine 1960’s

Later in the swinging 60’s AP moved to Soho where things were always done in style, drinks parties every Friday with clients and artists , and commissions consolidated at the Studio Club later in the evening.

It was as close to the TV series “ Mad Men “ in décor and ambiance and culture as you could get.

Brian Sanders (Sandy)  has always been an integral part of Artist Partners from the early days. When he was a runner and assistant to the photographer Adrian Flowers, Sandy also learnt a great deal from the artists around him. He became a highly respected illustrator in his own right, as well as a director of the company. He was also very integral in the early formation of the AOI and acted as an external assessor at various colleges.

Sandy was the representative of Artist’s on the board, and looked after the artists interests. At that time AP had artists working on the premises, artists from all over the world, all wanting to be part of this dynamic agency and renting desk space within!

Illustrators were the new rock stars in those days , driving around in sports cars and very seriously aspirational. I joined AP in the 70’s as a young girl friday and all rounder, it was supposed to be a temporary job before I was to enter Fashion College. I was dressed head to toe in Biba and without a clue of how prestigious the agency Artist Partners was , and how vibrant and strong illustration was at that time….. For more information about this time and the artists represented by AP please go to our history page at the AP site…..

Since those early days I have worked as a director at AP with Virgil Pomfret, Chris Candler, Tommy Candler and Dom Rodi – until I became MD some 12 years ago…


David Roberts illustration taken from his illustrated edition of The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Graham and published by Oxford University Press


How would you describe your day-to-day role as an illustrators’ agent?

Gosh! where do I start ? Every day is different, servicing enquiries from clients, answering email queries, going through briefs and sourcing models and costumes for some artists. Social networking has to be posted with news, events etc, images to the websites to be updated. Contracts to be negotiated, orders to be perused, and paperwork and jobs to be inputted for each commission. Second rights which is a big part of our business as we do a substantial amount of publishing work, both children’s picture books and adult fiction, takes up a good deal of time licencing images to foreign publishers.

I am always researching for new clients, new niches in the marketplace to be aware of any advertising agencies, publishers and other client sources . Regular clients make up a good deal of our work, its nice to have repeat business so everyone gets used to dealing and working with one another. I used to be able to service my regular clients by personally visiting them on a regular basis with job specific folios or a general updates, but that doesn’t happen as much now due to time restraints on the commissioners. It’s a shame for our business which was so social, that we have lost the personal touch .

Our accounts system is efficient, I have a book keeper who keeps everything ship shape, and manages the invoices, the chasing of the monies owed, and general admin specifically in the accounts area of the business. The artists get paid as promptly as possible and they have total transparency of our system and invoicing. What we try to do is take those headaches away from the illustrators, so they are able to concentrate on the creative process.


Illustration by Sophie Tilley – her new character Nanette for a series of books to be published by Bloomsbury Books


What are the commercial advantages for artists represented by your agency?

EXPERIENCE OF FORTY YEARS IN THE BUSINESS , giving as much time as I can to each and every artist, guiding them in their careers, and setting them sample piece briefs in order to widen their talents into specific niche areas of the business. Pushing the elements of their work that is unique to themselves, and giving them the confidence to own their very own style, keeping it fresh.

Informing artists of any changes in our business, affording them the knowledge of new quirks or trends they should be aware of…. Promotion and advertising with minimal expenditure, representation in the US , and we are looking actively to broaden our exposure in other territories too. Watch this space……


Front cover illustration by David Frankland – Penguin Books


What other benefits can an artist gain from being represented by you?

I try and take the pressure away from the artist and negotiate contracts, rights and usages to the best advantage of the artists we represent. I am constantly trying to improve fees, rights and the general working practice.

We are a small agency that runs things in a personal and friendly way, always trying to secure prestigious jobs, and giving the artists as much mentoring and guidance as possible.


Advertising for Playstation “God of War” by Steve Stone


What are the benefits of networking within the wider artistic community?

I think it's all about knowledge. The more you know the more prepared you are for most eventualities. Working together to make the Illustration industry a better place is good for all concerned. Avoiding bad contracts, and being aware of problems with clients is always helpful to know. Artist Partners are a particularly social agency, we do like to get involved where possible with the AOI and the SAA and other associations, and especially art colleges, where we like to help in any way we can.


Painting : Christina by Sharon Pinsker


How do you help your artists to recognise their market and help them adapt to new ones?

I try and work hand in hand with young artists to give them the courage to try new subjects, techniques etc. You have to understand each artist has a different way of working, the style and personality of the artist, the time it takes them to produce work, his or her strengths, in order to find a market place that is suitable . For the more established artists, it's finding them commissions perhaps in a new field or genre and exposing their work in other markets. Knowing what they enjoy doing most and trying to blend the two together. When an artist then unknown came to me with a fashion portfolio I immediately told him I wanted to see his work illustrating children’s books – since that day he’s never looked back and he has been continually busy since then and is now one of the world's leading illustrators.


Book cover : “Daylight War” UK edition published by Harper Collins – cover digital image by Larry Rostant


What do you consider is the main role and responsibilities of the illustrators you represent to help you to build their career?

It has to be a two way relationship. The illustrator should obviously be pro- active and create as much new work as possible. Producing new samples and constantly pushing the boundaries in order to divert into other genres of illustration is very important. The artist should be excited about what they are doing and enquire about new processes and programmes digitally, or experimente in traditional painting in different styles. It’s a constant learning process and the more the artists learn in this digital age the better equipped they will be.


Front cover illustration for book entitled: “Enders” published by Random Children’s Books Cover image by Bob Lea .


What advice would you give to an illustrator looking for an agent?

For any Artist Partners submissions I ask the artists to send approximately 6 printed images, representational of his/her work with a SAE by post. I am happy to see folios of work once I have seen the samples, I feel we, as agents are best placed to give a good critic of artists work which artists find beneficial.

It is important that the Agent you eventually decide to represent you, truly understands you, your ethos and more importantly your work! It needs to be someone who you can totally trust, and work with as a team to achieve your goals. To respect and like one another is essential, it’s a tough business, and you need to share a close loyalty and bond between you in what should be a very special relationship.


New Artist : Shobhna Patel - Packaging Designer and Papercutter


Next month The Art Market

Arena in conversation


This month we are talking to Caroline Thomson, Director at Arena Illustration Agency about her role as an agent, social networking and what newcomers should be aware of when looking for representation.

Please give a short summary of your company history and provide a bit of information about yourself and how you got into the business?

Originally called Young Artists, we were founded over 40 years ago by John Spencer. The agency flourished under the care and expertise of Alison Eldred throughout the 70’s and 80’s, evolving into Arena in the 90’s. Alison handed over the reigns to Tamlyn Francis in 2000 and I became a co-director in 2005. I studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Norwich School of Art and did a Masters in Illustration at the University of Brighton. I freelanced as an illustrator for 10 years, Arena represented me during that time and then I joined the team as a rep in 2001. We have carried on the tradition that has made Arena one of the most respected boutique illustration agencies in the UK. We now represent 32 very talented illustrators, many of whom are also authors.


How would you describe your day-to-day role as an illustrators’ agent?

My day can be very varied which makes my job so interesting. It’s important that I understand how each of my artist’s work so I can schedule their time effectively. We have a hands-on approach at Arena and are very involved throughout the job, so some of my day is spent going over a brief with an illustrator or contacting clients, for feedback on roughs, quoting on new jobs, negotiating amendment fees or new contracts.

We take general portfolios out to show our clients. These showcase a selection of our illustrator’s recent work; pertinent to the client we’re seeing. We always tailor every portfolio, including individual artist’s portfolios to suit each publishing, design or advertising client. We also email PDF portfolios to clients who may not have time to see us personally

The website is often the first port of call for our clients, so I spend time writing various blog posts, updating news about our artists and updating their online portfolios. We also use social networking to great effect, spreading news as it breaks

Of course, it’s also important that we invoice regularly, so that our artists can get paid quickly.


What are the commercial advantages for artists represented by your agency?

One of the huge advantages of being represented by Arena is that we have a very wide client base to introduce an illustrator to. Our website and promotional avenues can give an illustrator great exposure in the market place. We tend to advertise in a variety of places, and we send out smaller, one off promotions targeted at specific clients on our database. We obtain higher fees for our artists, thanks to many years of collective experience in quoting on a day-to-day basis.


What other benefits can an artist gain from being represented by you?

An illustrator can get on with creating, whilst we get on with business of promoting them, sorting out the brief, negotiating fees, contracts and invoicing for the jobs on their behalf. Contracts can be a minefield and again, it is our experience of seeing many that helps and enables us to negotiate better advances and rights.

We feel we have a reputation to look after, so when we take on an artist it’s important that they share our sensibilities and want us to help them build a career, we’re there to listen to them and understand the goals they want to achieve.


What are the benefits of networking within the wider artistic community?

We liaise closely with other SAA member agents on a regular basis which gives us a wider network of fellow industry peers, with similar ethics who are willing to give advice, support and share important information. The SAA have a representative on the Pro-Action committee, which was established to improve the rights of artists, it petitions companies with questionable business practices and contracts.

We have close links with various Universities, giving their students an insight into what we do and the commercial world of illustration.

We’re also members of the AOI and offer advice to their members and involve our artists in many of their events and competitions.

We take advantage of Social Networking, which has opened up new avenues for us within the wider artistic community.


How do you help your artists to recognise their market and help them adapt to new ones?

Knowing your illustrator’s market and adapting to new markets is very important in this technological age so we try to understand their strengths and weaknesses and help them develop their work throughout their career. We pass on any feedback we receive from our clients to our artists, advising them about possible directions to experiment with when they are producing new samples. We also encourage our artists to participate in events, talks and other socially aware activities to broaden their knowledge of the industry and engage them with their peers.


What do you consider is the main role and responsibilities of the illustrators you represent to help you to build their career?

Like all relationships, the one between an illustrator and their agent needs input from both sides. It’s a partnership that with nurturing will hopefully last many years. We like to be updated regularly with an artist’s latest speculative samples. Personal work can really feed into an illustrator’s commercial work; we actively encourage it and think it’s essential to an artist’s career. An artist must be able to develop and progress their visual language and it’s our job to help them do that.We insist that our artists are punctual with deadlines, organised and industrious, we both have a reputation to maintain. The reality is that a lot of commissions can expand and be delayed, so we also have to be flexible. We have to schedule an artist’s work time, so we need them to keep us up-to-date with any holidays, teaching, family responsibilities or part-time work they have arranged.


What advice would you give to an illustrator looking for an agent?

The illustration world is highly competitive, there are more illustrators coming out of University every year with the expectation of getting commissions. Those that succeed have to be very single minded and tenacious irrespective of whether they are seeking representation or not.

Choosing the right agent is a good start, many specialise or have strengths in certain markets, and so a freelance illustrator must do their homework before choosing an agent to approach. They need to understand the market their work fits into and find an agency that serves the same market. It’s vital to get along well with the agent as they will often be an illustrator’s support, quality control, sounding board and often their agony aunt – all rolled into one. It’s important to take time to decide on a suitable agency and not to rush into an agreement that you may not understand. An agent should be able to answer all questions with transparency; this is a relationship that must be based on trust.

Agents get so many samples sent to them, so an illustrator will need to present their work with professionalism. It sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how many samples I’ve opened that are poor quality copies with no covering letter and no contact details. Most agents have some indication on their websites as to how they accept submissions, and who to send them to. Always follow these guidelines. If they’re sending work by email, ensure that they send low-resolution jpegs only, so they don’t fill up an agents inbox.

From our point of view, we’re not looking for a “jack of all trades”, but someone with an original visual language who stands out from the crowd. We prefer to take on new illustrators whose style doesn’t clash with anyone else on our list as we feel that it would be a conflict of interests.

Approach agents who belong to The Society of Artists Agents, a member run, trade organisation with the broad aim to promote the use of illustration and to unify and improve the working practices between illustrators, agents and clients.

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Next month, Artists Partners

November 2021

Join the Society of Artist’s agents

but before you do, please read our criteria for joining here