Jennifer Nelson Artists, Inc.
Introduce us to the staff members at your agency - what are their individual roles?
Cathy Hughes is also an agent at JNA. She works with clients, and our artists, as well as writing and putting together galleries of our art. Haley Wood is our art sorceress, she takes care of much of the office work and is currently organizing an exciting, new service in Advice for Artists.
What does your agency’s office look like?
Our office is on the top floor of my house. It is a beautiful space with many plants and sunlight, a large bookshelf full of products featuring our artist’s work, and two closets filled with showprints. I love this space, not just because my commute is so easy, but also because it is colorful and inspires collaboration and creativity.
Describe a typical day at your agency.
Happy to report that we are all back in the office!! I might have a meeting going through galleries with a client or a meeting with one of the artists. Another common occurrence is talking to other artists, not in the agency, to help them with their careers. In the spaces between meetings, I am most often communicating with clients and artists via email; negotiating licenses, offering support, and planning out our next trip.
What sets you apart from other artist representatives and agencies?
We have the best artists in the world! I also built this agency with a focus kindheartedness that really shines through in most people’s experience with us. We seek to elevate the industry and each other in everything we do.
What are some of the key skills needed to be a successful artist rep?
Tenacity, patience, and a drive to get the very best for the artists while also being flexible with a client’s needs. Most of all, I think you need a passion for the work—the art, artists, other agencies, and even the day to day.
What advice would you offer those wishing to work as an illustration rep?
Take your time and don’t give up. We started out with only a handful of artists and it was just the right size for the beginning the business. The agency has grown organically; never more than we can handle but also little challenges along the way. It can take years for a client to respond to newsletters and emails, so patience is very important. Even artists sometimes take years to catch on in the industry.
What does your agency look for when sourcing new illustration talent?
We look for artists with a solid and unique voice. Artists whose work stands out. They don’t have to be famous or already have experience in the industry (of course, that’s fine, too). As long as their work sparks something in Cathy and I, there’s a good chance we’ll want to know more about that artist.
What qualities do you look for in an illustrator?
In addition to the quality of their art, we look for illustrators who are kind and have a good sense of humor. The relationship between an agent and artist can be complex. We want to make sure we have a good relationship established with an artist before we get serious about representing them.