Friday, August 4, 2023

Art Director and Agent Panel: Zejun Yao

Zejun Yao is an Artist Agent normally based in the UK for Yeon Agency where he continues to explore new talents and collaborate with other illustration agents from Yeon and its sister agencies (and wherever he currently is it's ¡5am! during this panel session!).

Where does Zejun find new artists? 

He echoes what the other panelists have mentioned — how much they look on Instagram for finished and sketch work. But Zejun points out when you're looking on social media it's all the same, universally-sized thumbnail shape and Zejun is always asking himself What if I miss some fine details? 

Finding ways to share your work outside of Instagram's cookie-cutter set up is one way to stand apart. For Zejun he loves meeting people in person at events or portfolio review opportunities. Even with a short window of time, like at Bologna you may only get ten minutes for a face-to-face meeting, but even that sliver of time makes the greatest impression on Zejun for understanding an illustrator's work and personality, anything to find ways to stand out inside the ocean of instagram thumbnails.

Submission best practices? 

Zejun recommends customized communications when illustrators are submitting to agents or art directors, so fancy AI or the same email to everyone your approaching is not going to cut it, make sure your first reach out is in your voice and personalized.

Panelists all mentioned wanting to see 'enough' pieces and that if you find yourself asking if you have enough, it's probably not enough. Zejun goes further to say it's not about just sheer numbers in a series, it's about how they work together. And after that personalized query letter, your images should speak for themselves.

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