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Artist vs Art Agency

You have a project you’d like to launch and want to get the best product for the best price. Do you use an Art Agency or hire an independent contractor? You can discover which option is best for you by answering a few simple questions.


What’s the Scope of the Project?

Whether you should use a freelance artist or use an art studio or marketing agency really depends on the specifics of your project. Art Agencies have a stigma of being more expensive and independent artists have a reputation for being cheaper, but that is not always the case.


If you are just wanting a logo created or an event filmed you are probably better off using an independent contractor. They generally have less overhead, are reasonably flexible, and faster. However, if your logo or video is just the start of a larger vision in which you want to launch a website, ad campaign, and mass mailing from, than it’s probably wiser for you to make the investment of using an agency.


Think of an art agency as a team of professionals with a wide range of skills and think of a freelancer as an individual with a few specialized skills. Do you need  a whole team for your project or just one player? There’s no reason to pay for the whole team if you only need one player. On the other hand you don’t want to hire 5 individual players when you can hire a single unified team for your project.


How Much Experience Do You Have?


Let’s say you are writing your first ebook in a series and need a cover designed. An agency can act as a consultant and actually save you money by providing you with valuable insights and steer you towards their pool of artists for the right fit. An experienced art studio can not only help you with this book, but it can help you plan out your entire series and marketing plan.


Now let’s say you are writing your fifth self-published ebook with great success. You know your market, you know all the specs for the cover, and have done all the market research to find the best cover for your book. In short, you know what you want and just need and artist to do it. An agency isn’t really going to offer you much at this point.


You don’t need Superman to open a pickle jar.  If you’ve got things covered and all you need is a little help, than you’re probably better off with a single artist. On the other hand, if you’re Jimmy Olsen trying to take on a super villain, you might want to call in the big guns, stand back, and take some pictures.


How Much Time Do You Have?

Is this your full time job or is this your hobby on the side?


You may waste a lot of time coordinating your project/s between an artist, writer, web programmer, animator, and video editor….an agency provides all that for you so you can keep working and actually save you money and providing advice along the way.


On the other hand if you know what you are doing and don’t have an extensive project list, or this is your full time job that you have done for 20 years you may be better off with an individual artist.


Do You Already Have an Artist?

Let’s say you are a self-publishing children’s book author and you already have an author you love. You have done several books together and are very happy with the partnership. In fact things are going so well that you have decided to add some interactive games and animations to your website, but your current artist doesn’t know flash or have time for animation. What should you do?


You have three options, have your artist subcontract the work, switch to an art agency, or coordinate the work yourself. The first two options are practically the same. Once your artist starts subcontracting work out to his associates, he essentially becomes an agency. Likewise, most agencies use freelancers for their projects and will be happy to use your artist if it means they gain your business. Your artist will probably be happy to work with your agency because it could lead to other work from that agency.


The third option of coordinating all the various freelancers and projects yourself as already been addressed. The best thing to do in this situation is to answer the other questions first to decide whether you want to coordinate the projects yourself or let someone else do it for you. If you decide on someone else I would suggest trying to let your artist subcontract the work first because you already know you like him or her and you work well together. 


Summary, the choice is really up to you and the needs of your project. However, after you have answered these questions, you should have an idea of where to get started and be able to make an informed decision. 


Quick Reference Guide 

(In most cases)



  • Coordinated / organized for you

  • Communication in-house

  • Larger pool of talent

  • More overhead

  • Slower on small projects


  • You have to coordinate projects

  • Communication with multiple people

  • More specialized talent

  • Less overhead

  • Faster on small projects

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