Here is the link to an interesting Linkedin thread on this topic (you'll need to access the site before reading it); another good editorial to read is here: Do's and Don'ts of Art Licensing; you can also find additional views about why agents won't represent an artist here.
Your comments are always welcome.
As a note regarding my blog policy – you're welcome to comment on this posting if you wish to contribute to it; please keep in mind two important criteria: 1. constructive criticism and 2. respectful dialogue. Inclusion in my blog is not an endorsement of a particular point of view but only a recognition that we can learn from open conversation among a diversity of perspectives.
Jackie Von Tobel - "I researched the industry for two years before making my debut at Surtex last year and it was obvious that for me having an agent was the way for me to go. What I have found having been represented by an agent for almost a year now is that working with an agent is very beneficial but it really doesn't change the amount of work and effort on your part as far as generating leads and finding appropriate manufactures for your work. Of course an agent will bring contacts, deals and opportunities your way but if you want to be successful you still need to do a lot of work yourself. Having an agent is not a ticket to success.
An agent does bring a wealth of knowledge regarding contracts and the nuts and bolts of the biz and their contacts but you still need to participate in your own success. I attend all of the shows that I can and work in tandem with my agent. I walk the shows, hand out promo packages and try to start a conversation with manufacturers that might like my work. I direct them to my agent's booth to see my portfolio. It is a huge cost savings not having a booth of your own but I am beginning to think that even that is something that I should consider doing again. Your agent is busy and is promoting all of the other artists on their roster as well as you. No one can promote your work with the same passion and enthusiasm as you can.
The bottom line is that this is not an easy business and you need to have realistic expectations of what your agent can do for you and still be willing to put in the necessary work yourself as well as find time to generate new and fresh art."
Jonathan Klase - "I'm coming at this question from the manufacturer's side of the table as a marketing director. The biggest challenge I see in representing yourself is that the more time you invest in making contacts, the less time you have to create new work. I look at portfolios all the time that are stale because the artist hasn't spent enough time on their craft and researching the market to see what's going to sell. With the right agent, you can do what you're good at and they can hopefully do what they're good at. A good agent should know where your art fits and help you to avoid the rejections as well as guide you in how to prepare you for making the right fit. This of course is contingent on having the right agent for you, and it does take time. But the right agent can make all the difference. If you're going at it on your own, there's no harm in asking questions. I try to be as honest as possible with people but no one likes rejection and I certainly try to be as tactful as possible. I'm sure others handle it differently and may be more blunt.
To sum it up...unless I'm working with a seasoned, licensed artist, I prefer working with an agent as I don't have time to train someone in the licensing business that come in with talent but no experience."