Katapult Q&A: When are you ready to find an agent or manager?

Q: How do you know you're ready to find an art agent/ manager/ etc? My shows, promotions, and sales have been great. But, the time available for me to paint is diminishing. Mike Kraus, Artist

A: An art agent will help you to sell your art to collectors (that you are not already selling to yourself) and to foster relationships with galleries with the aim of getting exhibitions and gallery representation. An agent is usually remunerated on a commission basis. A (business) manager on the other hand, comes along a little bit later in your career, helping you to manage your existing gallery relationships and the logistics of running an artist’s studio (administration, payroll, shipments and marketing). They are likely to be remunerated on a salary basis.

The point of hiring either an art agent or a manager is to take away time-consuming tasks from you that will allow you to focus more on the creation of your art. Assuming that they are better at representing your art (agent) and managing the business aspects of your career (manager) than you are, outsourcing these tasks will make your operation more efficient and ultimately, will allow you to make more money from your art career. So when is the right time to be thinking about hiring either?

In a way, the growth of your artist’s practice is similar to that of a small business. You’ll grow from a one-man band into an operation with a couple of contractors or employees. The key question is whether you can afford to pay the agent or manager and whether your pipeline (of sales and commissions) is sufficient to be able to continue paying them in the foreseeable future. This is a tough call and there is no real right or wrong answer here. You’ll simply get to the point where your practice is growing and you can no longer do all the work yourself with the result that you are losing out on potential sales, commissions and exhibitions in the process.

If you are not quite ready to hire a manager (a big step) you could also start the process of outsourcing some very specific tasks to an agency or freelancer (marketing, social media) and hire a studio assistant who can take care of your admin, inventory management and shipping. Artists are notorious control freaks so this may be a great exercise in learning how to delegate!

Stay tuned for more Q&A's: we received a lot of questions from you guys. Thank you!