Getting an artist agent or not getting one is usually a huge dilemma for young artists who dream to live from their art. An art agent could considerably contribute to the realization of that dream as much as it could make it difficult to achieve. We can actually say an artist agent could be either bitter or sweet to your business but, it all depends on the stage of your career at which you decide to hire one.
To answer the question “Do you need an artist agent or not?”, we will first lay this foundation: You do not get an agent just for the sake of getting one. Hiring an artist agent is not affordable for all artists because, if you clearly do not make enough money from your art, you will for sure not be able to afford one.
In order to enlighten you on the professional figure of an artist agent, in this article, we will first of all define clearly who is an artist agent and what his job description is, the different reasons why you should or not hire one and eventually, an alternative solution to getting one in case you are not ready for the Cons involved while hiring an artist agent.
That being said, let’s define this professional figure and see what his job description is.
Do you ever wonder what an Artist Agent actually do?
An artist agent is a professional figure hired by an artist to represent him, help promote his art and eventually sell his work. From this simple definition, we can see that hiring an artist agent is for the sole purpose of making business better. He can do so by the ways mentioned above, but also by representing the business interests of the artist through various deals such as individual sales, publicity and even teaching.
It is fundamental to have an artist agent with connections and some experience in the job for him to be able to find the best and somehow most lucrative deals. That is why an artist agent could be an independent art dealer, a gallery and why not a professional with connections? Here again, you see that the most important when you are hiring someone as your artist agent is his connections. His value as an artist agent is measured by his relationships and ability to bring new deals your way. If you go for an artist agent without connections, you will end up losing because you will have nothing to show for the significant amount the agent will charge you.
The job description of an Artist Agent
His job description is definitely promoting your business, and he can do so through the following ways.
- Licensing deals
- Commissions and many other ways that will directly or indirectly get you paid or get your art promoted or sold.
How Will an Artist Agent be Useful to You?
Here, we will see how an artist agent will be useful to you, in other words, why you should get an artist agent. However, we need to remind you that, you just don’t hire an artist agent for the sole purpose of hiring one, but you should instead hire one because of the way he will be able to help you.
Nevertheless, after reading this article, you will be able to decide on whether hiring an artist agent or going for our alternative solution will be the right decision for you. That being said, you need an artist agent because;
- He Has the Right Connections: Like we mentioned earlier, a good artist agent is one that has good connections. Basically, one who knows who you do not know and can put you in touch with them. Being in touch with the right people can provide you with an incredible number of opportunities of growth for your business. So, before hiring an artist agent, get to see what he has already done because like we have been saying so far, you do not employ such a figure for the sole purpose of hiring one.
- You are not Very Good at Business and Building Relations: If you are not very good at business or even with people, hiring an artist agent is a must for you. Because there are some times where building relations and making connections will be necessary, if you know you are not much of a pro at doing that, hire an artist agent to avoid missing opportunities that could easily have been yours. On the other hand, even if you are good at business, having an agent that will do all of the socialization and relational part for you will help you save time and focus more on producing masterpieces. Though getting to know a few things in the industry will not be such a bad idea for you.
- You Want to Make More Sales and have More Opportunities: To be able to live from your art, you should be able to make more sales and with that aspect, a good artist agent will be of great help. He could get you a great variety of contracts besides those mentioned in the job description above. Again, to get you those, he will need to have the right connections. That is why hiring an agent with the right connections is fundamental. Some of his connections may turn out to be sponsors and maybe finance some of your projects.
The main disadvantages of Hiring an Artist Agent
Obviously, there are some disadvantages in hiring an artist agent which are mainly the cost and the fact that you may be entirely reliant on him for almost everything. Let us explain these two points and see an alternative solution to hiring an agent.
- Hiring an Artist Agent Costs a lot: An artist agent may sometimes charge up to 50% of what you make, and that amount will be quite much if you do not make enough money from your art. If you are at the beginning of your career, you may not be able to live from your art if you continuously have to give out massive amounts of money to your agent for just representing you. That is why it is most often advised to consider hiring an agent only when you are well established as an artist. At that point, you will easily be able to afford an agent and the benefits of having one will probably be way higher than the amount he will charge.
- You will be dependent on Him: What we mean here is that, hiring an artist at the beginning of your career will be some sort of limitation to you because you will totally depend on his connections and not build yours. Whereas, as an artist, you also need to have your own networks and get to know better the milieu you are in. In the art milieu as well as in every other, contacts (knowing people) are the most valuable assets anyone could have.
Who Can Be Your Artist Agent?
Any professional in the art milieu can be your artist agent as long as he has what it takes to take your business to the next level. However, you can be your artist agent yourself in order to save and make some connections which are like we said earlier, very valuable.
Being an artist and making some connections yourself will not only provide you with experience you can only get on the job, but also help you discernable from unable artist agents when the time for you to hire one will come.
An Alternative Solution to Getting an Artist Agent
If you are considering the option of representing yourself, know that you will need some degree of assistance especially if you are not very much experienced. So as an alternative solution to getting an agent, you can go for hiring the services of a consultant. Consultants are way more affordable than artist agents, charge by the hour and you can basically share any and every concern you have with them, and they will provide you with accurate answers. They can even help you with your marketing and sales strategies. Representing yourself will not be easy but, you will learn a lot, and you can also efficiently prepare yourself for the job by reading on the subject as there are definitely a variety of books and articles out there that can help you. By knowing how the job is done, you will also be able to value your future artist agent.
We believe throughout the article you have been able to see that you need an artist agent but you do not necessarily need to hire one. If you are still at the beginning of your career or maybe just for the experience you are considering becoming your own agent, prepare yourself accordingly. But if you have the means to hire an agent, do not hesitate to do so as you will save a lot of time and if your agent is excellent, you might just get more opportunities than ever before.