When an Agent Might Be Good for Your Art Career

The only time I have ever seen the artist-agent relationship work with emerging artists is when the “agent” is the spouse or very close friend of the artist. I use the term “agent” loosely because this person usually doesn’t have connections that a true agent would have. This person behaves more like a marketing contact for the artist. He makes the calls, sets up appointments, takes care of the database, and so forth.Redlowsetg

The spouse or close friend deal works so well because that person usually has as much at stake in the artist’s success as the artist herself does. Dwayne and Jill Cranford are a terrific husband-and-wife team.

Anyone have a story with a happy ending about a fine artist who achieved success with the help of an agent?

(Of course, licensing agents are different. You’ll usually need one of these if you want to license your work.)

Read why you should quit looking for an agent in this week’s Art Marketing Action newsletter.

Image: Stone furniture by Dwayne Scott Cranford.

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7 comments to When an Agent Might Be Good for Your Art Career

  • In her first book, “Holymolymackeroly” carver and writer Gloria Page talks about how the agent-artist relationship happened for her. I don’t recall the details off the top of my head but I’m thinking it wasn’t too negative. She was not approaching galleries, but on the other hand she was getting her foot in the door at lots of chic boutiques & “shoppes” – not to mention the Smithsonian gift shop. I’ll forward a link to this thread to Gloria and we’ll see if we can get her to comment.

  • The bottom line: I had a card rep for several years and it worked well. There are some tricky aspects, like realizing who the “boss” is in the relationship – the artist is of course, but that sometimes gets confused. I always simultaneously developed my own “house accounts” and the Smithsonian was one of those. I believe in owning as much of the art business experience as possible. Networking is key.

  • Thanks, Susan and Gloria. I think an agent might work for retail much better than s/he would for fine art/galleries/museums. I’d love for more people to chime in on this topic. It just doesn’t seem to go away.

  • Joseph Murray

    Concerning Art Agents–I have read many of your wise messages and art wisdom . Few have hit the mark harder than your recent message concerning art agents . I hear the same comment repeatedly from experienced artists to the novice. “If only I had an agent to sell my work for me–then I would be successful.” Sorry fellow artists but it just is not so . You are the messenger of your own success and it won’t change with all the technological advances we have in our society and around the world . Yes, some will get lucky and fall into a great situation–but that is a rarity . “If it is to be it is up to me” fits the situation for artists . So thanks for the reminder Alyson . Just to prove your point . I had a holiday open house at my art studio and invited around 200 or so with personal invitations . Also advertised in 3 local papers covering about a 100 mile radius . Results–around 80 people showed up at the open house . Less than last year but sold 3 times the number of paintings . So the hard work does pay off over time . We all just have to keep on keeping on and following your sage advice . Thanks for being there Alyson . Sincerely, Joseph Murray Wayuga Art Studio 835 230th St. Jefferson, Iowa 50129 Wayuga@netins.net

  • Chris Taylor

    I love this site- full of info keep up the great work! chris

  • What about agents for portrait artists like Portraits, Inc.? Haven’t they helped many portrait artists sell their services to clients around the world?

  • Maureen Sharkey

    I used to be a commercial artist before I have turned to fine art painting, and my reps would charge more than I ever would have had the nerve to ask for, then they would add their commision on to that. Only problem I ever had with any of them, was they invaribly would turn into the art director on their own self-appointment.