Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 23, 2018

ASK CAT

On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Cat 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:

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!  it’s mid Jan 2018…amazing!  And before I get to two very good questions, we have a HAPPY AGENCY CHANGE to announce!

The CATugeau Artist Agency LLC is no longer! But The CAT Agency Inc. has taken it’s place!

My daughter and partner these last 4 years, Christy, is now the owner of the new agency…which is the same as the old agency effectively, but primed for growth and new things! Our artists are thrilled, Christy is more than ready and capable, and I couldn’t be happier.  I will continue working along side Christy as well. The legacy goes on and on and on…..

Agent CAT Answers..

The first question: Do Agencies accept artists who are new in the industry and/or perhaps have little experience?   

This can vary from agency to agency of course.  It is unlikely, but not impossible, that an agent will take an illustrator on right out of college. If the artist has a consistent and confidently developed style (portfolio) it might be something we’d take a chance on.  I certainly HAVE once or twice in the past.  Chances are however there is no professional record, unless the student has made a point to do jobs while in school and get professionally into the market early. The agency is taking a ‘leap of faith’ to take on an unproven artist.  If the artist has been active in other artistic industries, and is now newly entering the Children’s Book Market, then they have a professional record, and would be much less of a risk for the agency.  Things like work ethic and meeting deadlines, working well with other professionals are all important and reflect on the agency as well as the artist.  A ‘rogue artist’ can damage the agency name and all the artists who are represented in that agency. We aren’t particularly interested in artists who have worked for MANY publishers on their own, or with other agencies, either…. chances they don’t NEED us!  If suddenly they are no longer getting work without an agent there is probably a reason.  However, one of my highest earning past artists, and a good friend as it turned out, was well known (and I was NOT) when she agreed to come on with me.  She was SO busy then that she didn’t have the time to put into promotion and the ‘paper work.’  So there are always exceptions to any ‘rule.’

Part of Antonina’s question asked: Is it appropriate if one has been rejected by an agency to then resubmit to the same agent?  

I’d suggest really ‘listening’ to the response you get in the rejection.  Normally we will ‘leave a door open’… asking that we’d love to see more down the line when there is new work, or a new direction of work….often following some of our suggestions.  I would think other agencies would do the same.  If there is no invitation to do so, and they just say that ‘the style isn’t one we are looking to add to our agency,’ (or you hear NOTHING from them)  then I think you best not resubmit and move on.  An exception to that possibly is if you completely change your style and portfolio.  But I find that an artist has ‘a look’ and that will probably come through in any style they try.  Not a bad thing, but maybe not for everyone.

Then we have a question about ‘OLD SCHOOL” styles and their acceptance in today’s publishing market. I truly believe there is a place for every style of art that is comfortably and consistently well done.  Finding that market match is the challenge! – for agents as well as artists.  I have made mistakes in the past…and I’m sure more mistakes will be made in the future. I have admired a style (and the artist)  myself and hoped I could find the publishers who would also like it enough to hire it. But now and then I failed. Do styles slowly die out?  I truly don’t believe that…but yes they can in the publishing/marketing sense. ‘Old school’ isn’t always a negative…retro is quite ‘in’ just now. But if you hear ‘old-fashioned’ that may well be a death note today.  Spruce it up!

Trends come and go.  At the beginning of children book publishing most art was realistic (masterful oil or lovely black line) yet today realistic styles can be quite hard to ‘sell.’ For many years ‘saturated’ colors were what it was about. Now, the ‘modern’ look is lighter, has more spontaneous lines, and uses white space liberally. These ’trends’ are still around, but the buying popularity might not be there for a bit.  My suggestion to all artists is to be aware of the trends…the Market. What IS selling? and figure out what and why that is.  Perhaps there are subtle things you can alter about your style to be more ‘marketable’ today.  But your esthetic is YOUR esthetic.  You are an ARTIST.  It may be you need to be true to that at the expense of ‘the market.’  Not good if you are trying to make a freelance living from your art. Your decision. But things change and trends come and go.  Perhaps NEXT year your style, or a variation of it, will be hot!  Artists should be always changing and learning to stay current with whatever style.  STUDY the market, and past markets.  See where you might fit in.

(and I must say to Antonina that we love your art style…it is very well done, beautiful colors and stylized sensibilities.  It doesn’t look ‘old-fashioned.’ But we also feel that at the moment we wouldn’t know where to present it effectively. Hang in there!)

We hope these tips and tidbits help some get a new view of a new year and their place in it!  Great time to try new things and set some realistic goals for 2018. I know we have!

The CAT Agency Inc., our new agency name, 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.

Christy Ewers, the new owner of The CAT Agency Inc., and Chris’s daughter, has grown up in and around the agency and this industry. She is most excited about carry on the CAT legacy for generations to come! http://catugeau.com/

Chris and Christy, here’s to continued success. The name may have changed, but the quality of your agency keeps getting better. Thank you for being part of Writing and Illustrating and sharing your time and expertise with us.

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

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

Hope this illustration by Holly Hatam will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. Holly was featured on Illustrator Saturday August 27, 2016. Take a look.

Send them to kathy(dot)temean@gmail.com and put ASK CAT in the Subject Area.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. More incredibly helpful answers, Chris 🙂 Thank you! I especially appreciate the enlightenment on the “Old School” factors.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you very much for the information. This was instructive.

    Like


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