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How To Catch The Eye Of A #kidlit Illustration Agent

Published on 12/06/2023

How To Catch The Eye Of A #kidlit Illustration Agent
Teacher: Kate Powell, Global Manager of Astound US Inc

Today we talk with Kate Powell, the global manager of Astound US Inc. about how new illustrators can catch the attention of an agent!  

First, you need to capture our attention.
Confidence and commitment to style are central to capturing attention. That’s why when looking at Astound’s roster of illustrators, for example, we don’t represent just one specific medium or style. Whether an illustrator works 100% digitally, traditionally, or works in a hybrid technique (such as combining watercolor or gouache and editing digitally), we are looking for that thread of consistency across the entire folio of work. How to indicate this? Make sure you have at least 8 pieces in one style in your portfolio to show you have confidence and commitment to that style.

Next, you need to hold our attention.
Consistently, I find those illustrators who are the busiest and most successful have a sort of superpower for capturing magical, heartfelt moments in a way that keeps the reader wondering and thinking. These scenes are vibrant, full of whimsy, interesting lighting, texture, sometimes humor, and ultimately the unexpected: those hidden details that go beyond the obvious and what one might generally expect. It’s these types of illustrations that keep the viewer engaged through mini-narratives within the main narrative through intriguing detail, character interaction, and emotional range. How to indicate this? Make sure to have fully illustrated spreads, with all of the above aspects in your portfolio. A few spreads in full color and finished form are very important to hold our attention.

We need to know if your work will be the right match for the publishing and art licensing companies we have established relationships with – aka they have a need for your style. We want to set an illustrator up for success at the moment of signing. If we think there will be demand for an illustrator’s style within the current market, but they don’t yet have enough images in their folio to attract inquiries, we make a point to develop new designs ahead of publicizing their availability. This way, they are not losing time getting their foot in the door with top publishing houses or art licensing companies. First impressions are key.

We love to get to know our illustrators and have a vested interest in their lives outside of illustration. Astound agents keep in touch with their group of illustrators and we encourage them to reach out to us at any time, whether it’s a portfolio development related query or just sharing updates about their day-to-day. You’ll hear our illustrators refer to ‘the Astound family’ when describing our agency and that’s because we’ve built a dynamic group that is founded on good communication, kindness, and encouragement – which goes beyond what a typical agency offers.

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