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Working With An Artist Agency – How It Works

Working with an artist agency facilitates the production process. The agency provides professional artists who can deliver desired results to clients who seek quality work.

Working With An Agency
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The Role of the Agency

The agency’s main focus on the one hand is to ensure that the artist is taken care off during the day of the production. 

On the other hand the agency also needs to make sure that the artist meets the client’s requirements / expectations for a smooth day of production.


© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

The agent provides the artist will all the necessary info regarding the booking. This includes, but is not limited too, call times, location, shift duration, what services need to be provided, day rate, etc.

The client receives confirmation that the artist will show up on time, can perform the services requested like a professional with great skill and in a timely fashion.

In sports terms you can think of the agency as the referee between artist & client but unlike the referee, most of the agent’s job is done prior to the day of production (game day).

The Process

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Generally speaking, the agent will submit suitable artists for jobs and negotiates day rates etc. Wether or not the artist receives the booking depends on a few factors, mainly the artist’s portfolio, personality and work ethic.

So, in a real world example, the agent is submitting the artist to 12 jobs in 90 days. Yet none of the clients selected the artist for the bookings.

The professional solution is not to quit and go somewhere else but to sit down, review the artist’s portfolio and discuss what needs to be done to have a “stronger portfolio”. and hence improve the likelihood of being booked for jobs.

Working With An Agency
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

The artist is in a dynamic work environment, especially in the COVID world. For example, on-set staff is kept to a minimum now, which means most productions want to hire 1 person for hair & makeup instead of 1 hair stylist and 1 makeup artist.

All of this has implications with regards to the artist’s portfolio and hence the artist may have to put in some work to get their portfolio where it needs to be.

Who Decides Artist Booking?

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At the end of the day, the person with the money, the client, decides who they want for their production. In other words, the artist is in competition with other artists and there is no guarantee for jobs.

The agent cannot put a gun to the client’s head and force them to hire their artists. The agent will, of course, promote and recommend the artists to their clients in the best way possible.

An artist agency is not an “employment agency” nor the “Department of Labor”. There may be times when the artist gets a lot of requests / submissions and there may be other times when it is slow. 

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

When the agency has booking requests an agent will be in contact with the suitable artists. 

In other words: “Don’t Call Us, We”ll Call You”

In the real world an agent manages numerous artists & clients simultaneously, hence their time is precious! 

Don’t take it personal, they’ll be in touch if it’s worth it since they are running a business on limited resources.

For Clients

Working With An Agency
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Some agencies require a downpayment (e.g. 50%) from the client once the booking confirmation has been signed and the remaining amount is due the day of the production. 

The agency does it this way to reflect the amount of work performed. There are 2 phases:

  1. pre-production (confirming artists, etc.)
  2. production (day of the shoot)

The agency does most of the work during the pre-production phase and hence requires payment for services rendered.

The remaining balance is due the day of the shoot when the artist arrived on-time and is setup to begin work.

If there has been an ongoing business relationship terms may vary.

The Artist’s Role

Working With An Agency
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Apart from the obvious…skill, work ethic and professionalism, the artist needs to provide the agent with the necessary “tools” so the agent in turn can do his job.

Just because an artist has an agent doesn’t mean the artist can lean back now and wait for the agent to find paid bookings.

For example, a high quality & up-to-date portfolio showing a variety of looks, old and current, is a pre-requisite if the artist is to get bookings regularly.

Is your portfolio multi-ethnic? Be proactive and shoot until you have a strong portfolio.

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If the artist has accumulated new work via photoshoots it is in his best interest to promptly & regularly share it with the agent so the portfolio is as good as can be and the agent has some ammo to land the artist paid bookings.

Promoting your own business while on an agency booking is a sure way to get fired from the agency immediately.

Should an artist encounter a “pushy” client asking them directly for their personal contact info it is advisable to let them know to contact the agent directly.

If the client still persists, the artist can respond that they don’t want to go against the contract they have with the agency.

Working With An Agency
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

If the artist encounters “shady behavior” towards the agency be assured it’s just a matter of time until the client expresses the same behavior towards the artist. 

Is it worth risking continued bookings with the agency for 1 client?

The artist’s role on a booking is to keep the mouth shut, do the work as requested and go home afterwards. The day of production is not a likability contest.

If you are unfamiliar with professional photoshoots, take a look at how it works.

The Client’s Role

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The client has more assurance that the selected artists show up on time and can perform the requested work in a professional manner so that the day of the production runs smoothly. 

The client needs to specify the details of the shoot. For example, the date/location of the shoot and what services the artists need to provide (including mood board references) so everybody is on the same page.

The client is also responsible for providing a safe & clean work environment, including appropriate furniture and power outlets.

Working With An Agency
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Food & drinks also need to be available throughout the production to ensure artists have enough energy and the quality of production won’t suffer.

A big NO-NO is to try and entice artists to book them directly for their next shoots. It goes against the agency’s “terms & conditions” and hence will only lead to further costs. 

Not sure if you should work with an agency? Take a look at when to contact an agency.

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