What does an art agent actually do?

Agathe Bourdrez represents artists and artisans through her agency Tout Un Art. They call on her to free up time and devote themselves to their passion: creating art. 
Agathe accompanies each talent in a personalized way in order to reinforce their notoriety, visibility, and sales. In addition to the press and public relations, she develops projects between her clients and companies, luxury brands, architects, decorators, designers, and galleries.
Bourdrez is based in Toulouse, France and represents both local and international artists. 

What does an art agent actually do? 

I get a lot of questions from creatives about what I do for a living.

First off, what does an art agent actually do?

How is my role different from, say, an art advisor or an art gallerist?

And, what do artists get from being represented by someone like me? 

I am genuinely passionate about what I do, and I am dedicated to making the art world more accessible for artists and craftsmen who are trying to break into it and turn their creativity into a viable career. That’s why I would love to walk you through my role as an agent—so you can decide for yourself whether working with someone like me is an option to further your career.

Without further ado, here are the questions I get asked all the time as an art agent —finally answered.

 

How did you become an art agent? 

I actually started out by working in public relations for over 10 years. In practice, my job was to promote international tourism—cultural tourism particularly—to the North of France. This involved creating events from A to Z: attending high-flying events in embassies and museums, liaising with the press, handling budgets, and creating marketing plans ... all the things I do today for the artists and artisans I represent!

In 2017, I felt it was time for a career change. I wanted to use my experience for something more “hands-on”. Literally. I wanted to touch quality materials and to be involved in the production of objects that are special and unique. I started by studying upholstery for a year, so I could actually know what I’m talking about, and I can now decorate a mean chair, if I may say so myself.

As I was studying this new craft, my fellow makers were coming to me more and more often for advice on how to promote themselves and their work. Six months in, my fellow makers encouraged me to create my agency ... and I haven’t looked back since!

Today, I work with a growing network of artists and makers (I call them my “talents”), whom I help with all aspects of their art practice. 

 

As an artist, what do I get from having an agent? 

You and I both know what the vast majority of artists and artisans want to spend their days doing. Artists want to be creating, not handling their marketing, website, social media platforms, emails to buyers, canvassing prospects, etc.

But, let’s be honest: being an artist is a full-time career and business, so a lot of promotion work is involved.

I also know that for a lot of creatives, promoting themselves isn’t easy ... at all. Well, that’s where I come in. 

I let my talents create and I take over the rest. I handle their promotion in person and online, I get them gallery shows, I promote their original works to collectors, develop customized projects between companies and craftsmen and help them to apply for art competitions, calls for projects, and exhibitions. I also negotiate new commissions with clients such as interior designers, architects, and luxury brands.

Lately, one of my talents was commissioned to create custom pieces for a flagship store in Singapore. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the name of the brand—I really want to, but part of my job is respecting the client’s privacy—all I can tell you is it’s one of the biggest luxury brands in the world. Orders like these are a major deal for any creative, at any stage of their career!

 

What does a typical day look like?

No two days are the same because no two artists are the same. Different creatives have different goals—and each of my "talents" is at a different stage of their career. 

Some of them have only recently graduated or started their practice, in which case my aim is to refine their brand DNA, their storytelling, and communication tools, especially if they want to promote themselves abroad. Others want to develop new projects, such as interior designs, upcycling furniture for companies or want to find exhibition venues and galleries, so I help them find the right market and public. Finally, a few of my artists are very established—one of them even has his own gallery—so I help them with vastly different tasks such as handling commercial relations, including at the international level or organizing private views. 

For all of them, I establish a media presence online and offline, working with arts and interior press and bloggers to build their profiles up or strengthen their visibility.

All in all, I work hand in hand with my “talents" to support them in bringing their creative ideas and processes to life. 

 

How should I approach you as an artist or a buyer? 

If you want to reach out or stay in touch, you can follow my agency on Instagram (@tout_un_art_argency) and connect with me on LinkedIn.

And if you’re interested in joining my agency as a talent, you can visit my website, send me a CV, artists statement and samples of your work. Bear in mind we are specialized in craftsmen and makers.

Whether you decide to work with an agent or not, the most important things are to dedicate time to your craft, envisage your practice as a business, and establish who your target audience is: galleries, interior architects, enterprises, or the general public? Then promote your work through all the platforms that are available to you. I’m hoping to see you sharing more of your creative passion with the world!

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