Amy Veried graduated in the summer of 2014 from BA (Hons) Illustration with Animation at Manchester School of Art. We caught up with Amy in her latest role as a newly appointed Junior Agent at leading artists agents Handsome Frank.
Amy has responded to a series of questions from Senior Lecturer Ian Whadcock that asked her to reflect on her path from graduation to employment. Amy has passed on some valuable advice on what she wished she had done more of at university, where the moments of key advice came from and how she has achieved her ambition so quickly.
Amy Veried: Brief timeline since finishing Uni/ Background
In the last year of Uni, I knew that I didn’t want to be a freelance illustrator, (something I never would of known without doing the course,) but I wanted to be around illustration and help people achieve great work, I had a bit of a light bulb moment after a talk by Fig Taylor (AOI) and knew I wanted to be an agent, so much so I immediately called my mum and told her I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
I used my days off when I wasn’t working to make huge lists of agencies mostly in London, as that’s where I wanted to be. I had a brief moment where I did a Sotheby’s summer course in Art History, where I spent a month sofa surfing around London thanks to friends who let me stay. After that I spent my days in coffee shops emailing and ringing everyone, until I was offered some work experience. I went down to London and a week turned into two, which turned into a 3 month paid internship, which turned into a job.
I learnt a lot about children’s illustration, something I never swayed towards at all at Uni, which I now have a massive appreciation and understanding of that I didn’t have before, but this was mostly in the publishing industry, and I knew there was something more.
Strangely, my dream was to work for Handsome Frank, an agency that I personally thought had the best illustrators, who had a handle on contemporary illustration, and had a nice approach and interesting voice. One day I was looking on Twitter, which I never do, and I saw a tweet advertising the position of Junior Agent. Anyway, a couple of meetings and a few beers later, I got the job and am now in a team of great people who deal with illustration across so many sectors, it’s a very exciting and interesting place to be!
What would I most like to pass on
Don’t get disheartened but be savvy. There’s lots of illustration out there and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. It does on this end too, and there simply isn’t enough time to respond to every submission, but if you’re looking for an agent, do your research and find one that you think is appropriate to you, look up who works there and tailor it to them. (I.e.- Dear Sir/Madam’s not a good start!)
If you’re going it alone, brush up on some contract law and jargon for when you receive contracts, otherwise you could be handing people a lot more than you bargained for, worst case scenario you could give someone all your rights, so the image you created isn’t even yours any more and you can’t even show or tell anyone you made it.
When negotiating a job if you don’t have an agent, set out exactly what you’re going to deliver, where it’s going to be and for how long, and the fee. If they change their mind or ask you to do extra work, then that’s more work which requires another fee. As a rule I would say know your worth and don’t work for free. Also state that you always retain your copyright.
What did I do wrong
Underestimate the need and absolutely necessity to understand and to be competent with computer software. If you wish to be a freelance illustrator, although there are exceptions to the rule, you really need to know how to at least use Photoshop and some Indesign. Something I’ve learnt despite going to all the workshops, at the time it didn’t seem for me, as I thought I liked prints and handmade work more, but with the type of illustration I mostly deal with now it’s not commercially viable. If you need to change a colour or move something around if the client wishes, you need to be able to do that quickly without redrawing the whole image.
What I wish I had done at uni
I wish I had gone to every single workshop and every talk with a guest speaker to glean all the information I could and to meet interesting people. Also use all the facilities, you think printing is expensive, it’s no compared with the real world..
What really makes the difference.
Finishing work to a professional standard. Sometimes you can see student work straight away because it just doesn’t seem quite completed and have that polished edge. This is something that obviously comes with time and practice as you refine your skill, but it can be easy to be glanced over if you don’t have this.
Having an audience for your work. Art School is a time to experiment, but by the end of third year you should know or have an idea of where you want your work to be and the kind of people you want to commission you. Wherever you go, does your portfolio and website reflect this?
Being proactive. Go to exhibition openings/ creative nights/ art fairs/ talks/ workshops. Meet people, make connections, build up a rapport with like-minded people in your area. It’s good to be on someone’s radar when they quickly need to hire an illustrator.