A departure this week for the Visual Connections blog as we branch out to include the Illustration community with an interview with Stacy Endress, who heads up the U.S.branch of Illustration, Ltd. – an agency for commercial artists.
by Michael Masterson
- How did you end up working as a commercial agent? What path did your career take?
I went to art school in Colorado and earned my BFA. I had art teachers tell me in high school that I was crazy to leave NYC to go to Colorado for college but I loved living out West. After I moved back East after college I hand block painted clothing in Frenchtown, NJ. It is a cute little riverside town outside of NYC. From there a friend let me know that Houghton-Mifflin was hiring art buyers for a math program and I was hired. I really enjoyed negotiating and seeing all of the gorgeous artwork that the illustrators were creating. I then moved on to doing ad sales for an outdoor magazine in NYC. It was a great experience but wasn’t the right fit for me so I went back to art buying at a design house in the city and from there transitioned into my current role about ten years ago. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Illustration team. They are some of the kindest and hardest working people I have ever known. And I always love seeing the artwork that our amazing illustrators create.
- Illustration, Ltd. has been around for a long time. Tell us a bit about its history.
Yes, they have been around since 1929 in London. The agency changed hands and names over the years but a lot of the illustrators have stayed on the books throughout the transitions. Of course we have a lot of new talent as well. The agency officially started with a rep in NYC in 2000 and has grown since then becoming a U.S. company in May 2014. We are always working on building up our American artist team. We are also working on expanding and reaching new creatives here in the U.S.
- In your ten years there, what changes have you seen in both the company and the industry?
I think technology is the biggest game changer. When I first started we still sent out actual books to clients for pitches. The requests for physical portfolios really started dwindling and now our artist portfolios are downloadable from the website. This is much faster and more efficient for clients. Aside from that we have really seen the progression from still Illustration into animation. Of course animation has been around for some time but moving illustrations are requested daily now whereas that was not the case years ago. It is really fun to see all of the styles come to life.
- What trends do you see in illustration styles and subjects? What are clients using these days?
When I first started working for Illustration there was a lot more digital looking artwork being created especially in the fashion world. Then it moved on to ink or watercolor hand drawn work and now pencil work seems to be the most popular. But of course this is not the rule of thumb and we actually have all styles requested all of the time. Clients seem very into everything being Vector based these days. It is very cool to see so many styles that look hand drawn being created entirely digitally. It offers clients so many more options.
- Many illustrators and their reps are struggling these days. Why do you think Illustration, Ltd. has endured for so long and been so successful?
I think the agency owner is very forward thinking. He is always pushing the agency to new territories worldwide and into new technologies that keep us relevant. I also think that we have a fairly large roster of illustrators covering most styles. So we can be a one-stop shop for many needs like other larger agencies are as well.
- Finally, outside of work, what consumes your time and fuels your passions?
My number one priority outside of work is my family. We have an 8-year-old son so he keeps us busy along with our dog, Tash. We moved out to New Hope, an art-filled riverside town about an hour outside of NYC. It has been a wonderful place to live, I love being surrounded by nature and wildlife everyday. I enjoy fall runs alongside the river, hiking and eating out around town. We enjoying traveling whenever we can and fixing up our little bungalow house that we bought a year ago. Life is good!