Steven Malk, who opened the west coast branch of Writer's House in 1998, seems to be not only a great agent, but a person who truly has a passion for illustration. I'd trust his advise simply because SCBWI has him come to the national conferences, but if I needed more reason than that I could glance through the illustrators he reps on the Writers House website and I'd be sold. (Nikki McClure! Kadir Nelson! Adam Rex! Gilbert Ford! Carson Ellis! among many other great artists)
Malk took us through a slide show of his Do's and Don'ts (with beautifully hand-drawn titles) of Building an Illustration Career. The whole list is both realistic and positive at the same time, and truly helpful and well thought out. Here are a few highlights:
DO: your homework—about other illustrators on the market, and about those illustrator greats that came before you.
DON'T: look for a shortcut (it might be a trapdoor). Malk has no magic fairy dust to sprinkle on your career! It takes hard work, and it can take a long time.
DO: attend as many SCBWI conferences as possible. It really puts you at an advantage.
DON'T: give up!