Gatekeepers, Agents and Middlemen are dead, long live the Middlemen!

There was a time when talent was hard work, followed by a lifetime in starvation and appreciated only after an artist´s death. Then there was a time when talent was not born, it was made by agencies and by popular demand.

Now we are on a path beyond that, gatekeeper of the artworld, the music industries and literary agents are the new artists and if the are not quickly adapting to this new environment, doomed to extinct.

This is a call, a call for agents, not for me, I don´t need one, but a call for waking up.

And I don´t mean advertising agencies but those whose job it is to find talent and sell it to the world.

What I find interesting is that many artists and illustrators are still actively seeking for reps or agents to collaborate - as if they were not able to negotiate and find clients by themselves. And there are still a hand full of agencies specialized in representing artists, but these were established in the last century and sap from the fruits they sowed - may they live long and prosper.

The reason why there are no new agencies or reps is simple: because there is no need anymore.

In times where Television and Magazines were at their peak point in revenue, agents and illustrators had a great time together, but nowadays more people use smartphones and internet than the amount of families in the sixties had tubes.

Now to reach 100.000 people it takes one ad in facebook, targeting at the right people as well, because no one can be brave enough to ignore such a huge network, not even professionals.

And it does not even stop there, countless specified communities, professional networks like LinkedIn or are popping up like mushrooms everyday!

Countless guides and howto´s make it easier than ever to any newbie to break into any industry.
Building your own brand was also never that easy...

...or not?

OK, that sounds like an advertising for the internet, and one thing is for sure, it takes more than just a few youtube videos, to educate yourself.

But, chances are that over time, it is possible to see the underlying mechanics that are at work and with enough persistence, passion, and a lot of smart and hard work it will be possible to get your name out there to the right people.

Sure, there´s one advantage of having an agent: it takes the negotiating part and guesswork out of business and gives you work that you love to do.
On the other hand, if your work coming from a rep amounts to 80% in a month, you are literally in a frontline assembly. I prefer to negotiate myself and love connecting with new clients, it takes probably a lot of motivation to post your work regularly online and yes, it can be daunting at times but that is not the key.

The key is to consider that work.

Once you are there and consider the social-media aspect as relevant to your business and updating your online presence as work, it becomes important. And there´s always something that you can improve.

Here´s a second key: Consider improvement as meaningful, and you are done.

One important argument that an experienced agent, established author or illustrator may append is: that a representant or agent does give you valuable feedback.

Sure thing, the problem is that its just a very specific type of feedback and only brings you that far. For a different industry you need a different agent and so on. You end up uberspecialized with knowledge that is outdated faster than you can snap.
And even if the feedback is valuable, there is always a representant of the client behind that agent who has the same knowledge and if they havn´t, they will get replaced by someone who will have in the future.

So essentially, the knowledgeable feedback from the agent is nothing different than the knowledge about what the client wants, spiced up with some experience...which can be broken down to the following sentence:
If you know what the clients want and can deliver it without whining, you are in the game.

Sure, the agent has a nice way of telling you that your work is shitty today and it can be daunting to find out that the companies art-director does not have such a nice tone, but you know what? Get used to it, don´t take yourself so important and do what they want.

You are your own agent and have to find a nice way of telling the truth to your self from now on.

If you want flattery, post your art to facebook, go figure.

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


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