Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 20, 2017

ASK CAT

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On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Catugeau Artist Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.

chrisandchristy

Here’s Chris:

Nov. and THE HOLIDAYS have begun.  Great time of year.  FULL of creativity and distractions!

I will continue with a few more questions about the children’s book industry ‘how-to’ and how agents attempt to guide a career for their artists.  Well, these agents…..

First some particulars:  

1.)  ‘Is going “educational/work-for-hire” the best bet?’

This seems a bit out of context so I’m unsure how to answer other than to say…IT DEPENDS!  as in most work, what you take on and how you do it is UP TO YOU!  Educational work is a good bet if you want a lot (maybe) of fast work with fast deadlines and fast payments.  And if your style is one that allows that, and one the buyers want.  You also must be good at giving the client what THEY want and following specs very closely.  If you have a laborious, time intensive style, or a very quirky unique style, or you insist on doing it ‘your way,’ then the educational market is probably NOT your best bet.

As to Work for Hire (WFH).  I have never been a fan….for obvious reasons!  The artist is selling ALL the rights for use of their art for ALL times, for very little comparative compensation.  School Rights Only (SRO) is a much better option.  Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s WE agents and artists fought hard for SRO on all educational programs and GOT IT mostly!  much fairer.  But then ‘the crash’ began, and educational work all but disappeared.  So did the leverage for fairer rights and prices.  So now it’s mostly back to WFH and same prices.  If you want to do educational work, you will be doing WFH.  It’s ok. Most of the work wouldn’t transfer well to other uses anyway, and you can alter it slightly to ‘reuse.’  But it’s the principle.  Again….it’s up to you.
tip: watch your agents fees with educational work too….it shouldn’t be more than 25% and often should be less to be fair.

2.) ‘Is it wise to develop skills for black line art or prolific style (?) if full time work is their
[the artist’s] objective?’

I personally and professionally think developing ANY drawing/painting/digital skills, and the speed of these skills, is essential if you want ‘full time work’ in any art making industry.  It  broadens your abilities and appeal.  At the very least black line and sketching is GREAT practice for every other type of work!  I have been quoting an art director (now out of biz) for years…, “Good drawing, Good composition, Good color”   = the three essentials of ALL ART and it is surprising how many do not have them down well.  So sketching and finished black line work keeps the rust away and makes you stronger in every way!

‘FULL TIME WORK’….I repeat:  this is a freelance business. (per job, not definite hours or pay)  If you are fast, really good, a team player, consistent, always growing, and good at promoting yourself (with or without agent) you might make a full time career out of the children’s market.  Most likely you will supplement with other related markets, teaching or other more full or part time work.

3.) If someone is starting out, how would an art rep guide your career to attain a realistic substantial living to possibly be able to give up a day job?’

Good segue from last statement about FULL TIME WORK!  and I’ve referred to it many times in my articles and question answering.  Bottom line is the fact that it isn’t our responsibility (!) as agents or possibility to promise or even sometimes hope for, full time consistent work for every one of our artists.  That effort is up to YOU, in teamwork with us and the good vibes and reputation of the agency itself and every one of the artists in the agency!  The type of style you have, how broad it’s bandwidth, your productivity, your energy, your promotional savvy, and your outside life all have a good deal to do with how much you can produce and for whom and how often or how fast.

That IS however what we aim for as art agents.  We’d like everyone of our agency artists to be working at something good at all times, and for a variety of publishers.  It doesn’t happen often  though we do get close now and then.  For several of our artists it does! They are  booked up two years in advance with NO room to take more projects. Most of our artists have periods when they aren’t working on something paid through us.  They ARE working however….at their craft.  That is part of how we try to ‘guide an artist’s career:’  support and promote them where they are when we take them on and help them see their own potential for growth as they remain with us. (That won’t be ‘starting out.’ We look for professional potential at least, and that takes lots of consistent experience and samples.)

If an artist is ‘cold’…meaning the industry doesn’t seem to be buying what they are offering (and that happens even to very professional artists over time if you don’t change and grow)….we will share comments we’re getting when we show their work to clients. Often this is in person which is wonderful for our ‘reading’ body language.  We’ll suggest they work on specific subjects, or maybe try playing with a new medium or colors, or try writing TO and FOR their style.  But if the artist doesn’t respond to our gentle prodding we can’t do much.  If the new fresh samples don’t come our way to share to the publishers and buyers, we aren’t going to find them more work probably.  We guide….but the artist must lead.  It is YOUR career.

I’ve put a LOT into this, and previous answers.  Take time and read again.  If something still isn’t clear please share that with me.  This is a most marvelous industry with the most marvelous people in it at all levels.  So worth the effort and if it’s your calling anyway you are a lucky person….but effort it is!

Now that we’re moving more inside and inward with the cooler weather, it’s time to take an honest look at where YOU are and what YOU want.  If that brings up questions….. do share them!

Do send on more questions about our wonderful industry!!

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Christina A. Tugeau Artist Agency LLC is the first mother/daughter agency in the business! A trained artist herself with a BA in Fine Art, Chris Tugeau has been in the children’s illustration industry for over 25 years. Since opening her own agency in 1994, Chris has enjoyed representing many talented artists, and has been an active part of the illustration community; writing and presenting for SCBWI regions around the country. She is also the author of SCBWI Illustrator Guidelines. A veteran artist and rep, Chris is an advocate for ethical fairness and the bright future of children’s publishing. She’s also a mother of 3, a grandmother to 8, and best friend to husband, Bill.

Chris and Christy, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer questions and helping everyone trying to build their careers in the children’s publishing industry. This was a terrific questions and a terrific answer. – Great article.

Please help keep this column going by sending in your questions.

Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.

NOW SIT DOWN AND WRITE UP YOUR QUESTIONS FOR “ASK CAT.”

Hope this illustration by Patrice Barton will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy.  http://www.patricebarton.com/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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