The following article can be found on page 506 of the 2008 AGDM.
Lilla Rogers Studio: Agents who value and inspire their artists
Lilla Rogers Studio is a well-established agency in Massachusetts that represents commercial artists internationally. In business for over 23 years, the Studio was founded by Lilla Rogers, a visual arts instructor as well as an internationally-known illustrator and painter. Susan McCabe and Ashley Lorenz are other key partners. They work closely with the artists they represent and engage them in studio events. Their artists’ client lists include popular magazines, newspapers and other major companies in a variety of industries. “We are unique in that we are strong in both advertising/editorial and licensing,” says Rogers.
The idea of agenting was an “incredible, exciting, natural next step” for Rogers when she was first teaching years ago. Refusing illustration work because she was getting more assignments than she could handle, Rogers began passing those jobs on to her students. Her crop of artists continued to grow, and she now has more than two decades worth of contacts and clients. “Those clients trust our agency and know we’ve thoroughly vetted each artist for style and professionalism,” says Rogers. “They also come to us knowing we’ve found the latest in trend.”
Lorenz started out as Studio Manager about 10 years ago and eventually earned the promotion to Agent. After graduating from college with an Art History degree, she was seeking a job that would allow her to help working artists make a living. She was introduced to Lilla Rogers Studio through a friend and, though she knew nothing of illustration at the time, immediately fell in love with the agency and its artists. “We take on artists we love, that we are crazy about,” she says.
McCabe joined the Studio in 2006. She had been an art director at magazines such as Inc. and Harvard Business Review, fell in love with illustration, and thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to be an illustration rep?” A rep handles business aspects, such as job negotiations, contracts, billing, marketing and image management, allowing the artist to focus on being creative. “An agent can also guide a career,” says Rogers. “An agent is an editor of the artist’s work and can present the work in a brilliant way, showcasing the right pieces to the right art directors to get the very best work for the artist.”
Because Rogers was a successful full-time illustrator, she understands the issues—both practical and emotional—of being an artist. In addition to mentoring her artists through classes and workshops, Rogers invites guest art directors to keep the artists fresh and stimulated. “As a teacher, she knows how to motivate and inspire her artists,” says Lorenz.
Lilla Rogers hugs artist Lisa DeJohn as they
celebrate after a great day at SURTEX 2007.
“I really love my artists!” says Rogers.
Why have an agent?
Lilla Rogers Studio generally takes on only one new artist per year (out of more than a thousand submissions from around the world), but that shouldn’t discourage you from contacting the agency, especially if your style suits their requirements. “Currently, we’re looking for someone with a ‘design*sponge‘ sensibility,” says Rogers. The agency plans to include more information on their Web site in the future, but in the meantime interested artists can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. “Provide a link to your site, and tell us why you’d like an agent.”
There are plenty of other reps listed in this section [of the book] that are worth investigating as well. Most agents themselves strongly suggest artists research a variety of agencies before signing a contract. The idea is to find someone who understands your personal vision and needs, so that you can do your best work while having a comrade to guide you.
Here, some of the artists represented by Lilla Rogers Studio explain the value of working with an agent:
“With a good agency, you feel like you’re part of a community, rather than struggling alone. They offer support and encouragement, see your work afresh, and therefore can make valuable suggestions and judgments. When the standard of work of the other illustrators that are represented is high, it can challenge you to produce new and (hopefully) ever improving work. Most importantly, an agent frees you up to concentrate primarily on creating work (which is what we tend to be best at and enjoy most) and removes many of the day to day pressures of looking for work, negotiating fees and contracts, etc.”
—Trina Dalziel (www.lillarogers.com/artists/trina/portfol.htm)
“I value immensely the feedback and encouragement I get from my agent. For me, she’s a source of inspiration and positive energy.”
—Jessica Allen (www.lillarogers.com/artists/jessica/portfol.htm)
“A rep is there to be your advocate. She knows the right questions to ask, gets top dollar for each job, and has my best interests as a priority. She knows the importance of balancing my work with other aspects of my life.”
—Susan Farrington (www.lillarogers.com/artists/susan_3/portfol.htm)
“An agent can be in a unique position to give feedback, as she is constantly looking at and evaluating work. If you decide to go the agent route, it’s important to respect your agent and her point of view and appreciate what she does for you. It’s not a perfect world out there, and agents can’t solve all of your problems, but that isn’t their job.
It’s a partnership. You give them high-quality work, delivered on time to your clients, and they give you the benefit of their expertise to keep finding new clients and opening new avenues for your work. This pushes you to constantly grow and improve as an artist, and ideally this works out to be a mutually beneficial relationship.”
—Sarajo Frieden (www.lillarogers.com/artists/sarajogr/portfol.htm)