The Insider: Vicki Willden-Lebrecht, Director & Founder of The Bright Group
Vicki Willden-Lebrecht’s recent opinion piece for an AOI interview.
You have worked as Director and Founder of the Bright Group, covering global childrens illustration and literary, in which the landscape of commissioning would have changed and adapted through the years. Where do you see commissioning going within this next year?
In the UK larger houses commissioning no longer lies with the decision of one person but commissioning happens through the entire publishing team so for a book to get commissioned it has to have already gone through sales, international and marketing.
The publisher needs to feel secure that the book is going to be a success and no longer are books commissioned on the whim of personal taste, so its good for artists to be aware of what is current, what is selling, and will their idea book, style work internationally.
One theme that I see coming through this year is publishers being interested in commissioning titles and characters that have series potential and can develop into brands.
Publishers are much more interested than they’ve ever been on an illustrators past sales history, if you read our blog post that we have just done on Scholastic, this talks about how artists can make their books discoverable through assets such as creating animated book trailers or attending events.
Vicki Willden-Lebrecht, Director and Founder
What is the one thing that illustrators need to consider before joining Bright Group?
Are you willing to work hard and be positive and be part of a team.
Attitude – do you have a good attitude? Out of positive relationships come stand-out-of-the-crowd books and it is this which is at the foundation of all relationships and which leads our artists to have career highlights.
Benji, Sue, Yasmeen, Damien Jones, David Shepherd just some of Brights artists have some of the best attitudes I’ve known artists to have. Clients come back to Bright as all our artists are reliable, take a brief, are positive, realistic and they work together, every artist is a representative of the agency.
Image Caption: How Many Sleeps till my Birthday? By Mike Sperring, illustrated by Sebastien Braun
As childrens illustration is ever changing, how do you maintain an upkeep of the sector with your illustrators and their styles?
At bright we focus very much on nurturing and developing our artists often pulling our artists in to meetings or talking through Skype and developing ideas. We encourage our artists to be as current as possible and attend book events, be aware of awards and be aware of what’s selling. We also send out trend boards to our greeting card artists.
Image Caption: Lets Paint by Alborozo
How, initially, should illustrators approach your agency?
Email with attachments and a covering letter and a link to your website and blog but do attach jpegs to your email and include in your covering letter what you’re looking to achieve and what you want from an agent as this is a good opening to start a conversation.
Image Caption: Marshmallows for Martins by Adam and Charlotte Guilian, illustrated by Lee Wildish
What and how do you feel the agent and artist relationship works best?
Absolutely 100% mutual respect, total team effort, listening to each other and working together to achieve what we set out to do.
Image Caption: The Storm Whales by Benji Davies
When an illustrator approaches your Bright Group, what are the first three factors that you look for?
I’m going to say : Can they draw? Is there talent and craftsmanship in their line work or drawings? Could we find them work? Do we have the client base? Do they have a positive attitude coming through in the letter? Do they have a strong style?
Image Caption: My Funny Family Gets Bigger by Chris Higgins, illustrated by Lee Wildish
What means do you use to promote your artists to new clients?
Website, blog, meetings, trade shows, design print marketing, phone calls, Skype, events – big PR.