Member Spotlight: Anna Goodson


Member Spotlight - Anna Goodson

[ September 22nd, 2009 ]   Anna first got involved in the world of advertising and design while working part-time at her father's printing agency. At his side, she learned first-hand about every facet of running a successful business. In the years to follow, Anna broadened her sales and marketing expertise with a leading Quebec ad firm and later as a representative for a top Quebec photography agency. A lover of the visual arts, she started her own business representing illustrators and photographers. In the winter of 1996, Anna Goodson Management was born.

Anna Goodson Management (AGM), is an innovative, boutique-style agency serving the global marketing needs of the visual arts community. Drawing on a proven track record of vision, insight and ingenuity, AGM represents some of the most celebrated illustrators from around the world - as far away as Australia and Argentina. Today, AGM's artists work with some of the leading advertising agencies, design firms, magazines, publishers and newspapers in the world.

Can you give us one good reason why anyone would want to be represented by you?
No, but I could give you a few. I would have to say because I am very passionate and committed to the business of Illustration. I am enthusiastic and creative in the way I run AGM and I think that is what makes us so successful. I think artists want to be with a company that is a leader and not a follower and that's how I see AGM.

What keeps you so motivated?
My gang. I am always thinking of ways to promote their work in order to bring business in. I feel a great responsibility towards them. It's the way most of them make their living and I want to make sure they can continue doing what they love and that's to illustrate. It's not always easy and I think the artist that I represent know how devoted I am. Over time most of the illustrators that have been with me for years have become very close friends. I know how that must sound cliché but its true.

Is it possible to be successful in the field of illustration today without a Rep or Agent?
Yes. Having a Rep or Agent is not for everyone. I have been asked this question many times and in fact wrote a blog about it.

You have been in business now for almost 14 years, how do you keep it so fresh?
It's not because you have been around for a while or have a lot of experience that you can't be fresh and innovative. I think AGM is very tuned in to the "Y generation" and what is going on in the industry. It's my responsibility to stay fresh and keep up with the trends. I think that the kind of artists that we take on is a great reflection of that. I have never followed trends, instead I like to think that we create them. Our marketing and advertising is a good example of that as well.

What's the next big thing in illustration?
I would like to think that the business of illustration will continue to flourish despite all the pessimism in the industry. There are hundreds of students enrolled in illustration classes all over the world and I hope there is work for them when they get out. I think everyone just has to be a whole lot more creative in the kind of work they go after. Things are changing and yes markets are shrinking but there is business out there. If illustrators can stay away from the temptation of stock and royalty free companies then of course we will all have a better chance. It's also very important to read the fine print on contracts and make sure to retain the full rights. If you are not careful then your images can be sold to a third party without you even being aware. I wrote a blog about Facebook last year "Facebook Be-Aware" warning illustrators about the dangers of posting their work on the site. Soon after, Facebook revoked the clause that gave them full rights to anything that was posted on their site. This was a very important change especially for illustrators.

Speaking of Facebook, What do you think of all the social network sites out there in regards to illustration?
I really think they are fantastic, especially now that your copyrights are protected. That is why it is always very important to read the terms on any of these sites just to make sure.

I have become an avid user of Facebook and Twitter and other sites out there that help us share information. It's a great way for me to be in touch with illustrators all over the world who I know or don't know. I want to be as connected to the industry as possible and these social networks help me do that. I can post news, answer questions, give advise, its all very positive.

You mention that you like to give back, how do you do that?
Giving back for me is a very important personal thing. I feel that it's really our duty to share what we have learned with others, especially students just starting out. I love to lecture and answer questions regarding the business of illustration. I started doing it more and more this year via skype and I am hoping to continue. Its very rewarding and exciting for me to meet young people and answer their questions. If one of my lectures can make the difference for one person then, hey great! Also, I do it for free so if anyone out there would like me to come and talk to your class, just drop me a line and it would be my pleasure.

You also did a post stating that AGM was willing to work for FREE, what's that all about?
Yes, you read that correctly. Well times are tough and we all understand that. But times can be tougher for others who are less fortunate than us. I feel very lucky to have what I have, a great career, a loving and supportive family, my health and I starting looking a little deeper to see what else we could do to help others. I realized that in these tough economic times so many non-profit organizations and charities were desperately in need of fund raising and for that they needed to advertise. Of course they had not budgets to illustrate these campaigns so I offered anyone who was interested that the illustrators of Anna Goodson Management would work for free, no strings attached. I sent out hundreds of emails and put up several posts and we got some amazing responses. All the illustrators who were involved also felt a great feeling of accomplishment at giving to these organizations. I am really proud that we did that and the offer is always open. If we can help let us know and it would be our pleasure.

How has the business changed since you first started in the industry?
It's really changed a lot. One of the things I miss the most is meeting with clients fact to face or even talking to them on the telephone. 90% of our business is done over the Internet. I am bombarded with emails yet the phone hardly rings any more. I am a very sociable person. Some times I call clients just to say hi and they almost freak out. Its really kind of funny and sad at the same time. I miss going to see clients abroad and showing printed portfolios. I use to love seeing clients react to the work but no one has any time any more. Everything is done at the speed of light literally. I even kind of miss the FedEx guy who would be at our office door every other day. On the bright side I am in daily contact with clients and illustrators from around the world. When I first started back in 1996 we had a website but one was really on it back then, it was too new. I had an email address but never got any mail. Now if I am not typing on my Mac I am typing or texting on my BlackBerry. My hours are a lot longer as well. I am on line first thing in the morning and check my messages before I go to bed at night.

What is the best thing about being an Agent?
There are so many great things about being an agent. I have had the fortune to work with so many talented artists and creative's over the years. I love working internationally and dealing with people all over the world with different backgrounds and cultures than mine. I love being my own boss and the freedom and responsibility that goes with that.

What do you love most?
That would be that I can be at the playground with my 4 year old daughter and push her on the swing while dealing with the New Yorker on my BlackBerry. That's pretty cool.

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