Beehive Illustration

Meet the Agent - Ellie

4 April 2023

In this series, we'll be getting to know the team at Beehive. This time, it's Ellie's turn to be interviewed! After many years at the Hive, she's seen first-hand how much the agency has grown and flourished. Let's find out more!

Ellie, you'll be a familiar face to all of our artists and so very many of our clients. You've worked in every role in the agency, and now you're overseeing the day-to-day running as our invaluable office manager. We simply couldn't be without you!

As the longest serving member of the Hive, could you tell us a bit about how you started out here, and the roles you've had over the years? Go on...paint us a picture...

It was the summer of 2002, 'By the Way' by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was number 1 in the charts and I just finished my second year of my illustration degree. I had a year left of my course and felt I was at a cross-roads. I knew I wanted to do something in Illustration but I didn't feel that working from home by myself was the route that I wanted to take at that time, I wanted to be around a team of people. After looking through the phone book I found that there was an Illustration agency close by. What were the chances of that! I decided to write a letter to Beehive to ask if it was possible to do a week of work experience. To my surprise, Paul agreed. One week of work experience turned into the rest of the summer. It was a fantastic insight to be able to see how an illustration agency works as well as seeing beautiful illustration evolve from a written illustration brief. After my final year of Uni, I returned to Beehive and have not looked back since. Over my 20 years at Beehive, I have progressed through numerous roles, admin, finance, project assistant, project manager and now team manager. I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity and to work with such a lovely team.

What would you say is the key to success in the illustrator-agent relationship?

Communication is key! Building up a good relationship from both sides is essential. Always keep your agent informed of your availability and what type of work you would like to be considered for. Never be afraid to try new things and take on board comments and advice which will keep your portfolio fresh and current.

What do you think are the primary benefits of an agency for illustrators, and what value do you feel Beehive can bring to the illustrator-client relationship?

Established agencies will have a large network of clients that they can introduce your work to. They will be able to get your work seen by many more people (and more importantly, the right people) than you might be able to achieve on your own. Often agents will have a creative background, so can talk to you about your work with at least some knowledge of your technical process. Agencies can tailor and target specific illustrators to particular enquiries which may otherwise have missed the target. Agents can intervene and look after illustrators individual needs and interests even when the goalposts change. If illustrators feel they have been treated unfairly, agents can be the 'bad guy' and negotiate with the client on their behalf.

In March 2020, the team switched to working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As office manager, what was that transition like? What were the challenges and benefits?

We are very fortunate to have such a strong IT support from Rob Clarke at Corinium Technology who made the transition from working in the office to home seamless. It was definitely challenging at first to adapt to working from home on a regular bases, especially juggling home schooling, but as time passed it is wonderful to have the option to continue working from home, which I don't think would have necessarily have happened or at the very least as quick as it did.

One of your roles at Beehive is looking through the many artist submissions for representation we receive daily. Could you briefly outline what you look for in an artist's portfolio, and any advice for budding illustrators looking for representation?

I am very lucky to see so many beautiful portfolios on a daily basis. It is such a great feeling to open a new artist's portfolio that takes your breath away. There are many things that I look out for but generally a strong, consistent style is what catches my eye.
To any new budding illustrators, I would say always keep an eye out for what styles and subjects are current. It has been fantastic to see how some of our greatest illustrators' portfolios have evolved over the years, adapting to the ever-changing illustration market. Don't become despondent if you receive a 'no' there can be many reasons to why your work didn't fit that particular agency or client, ask for feedback and try and take that on board however small.

Tell us a bit about your life outside of the Hive! What are your other hobbies and interests?

I love doing anything active and really enjoy spending time with my husband, children, family and friends. We have recently been lucky enough to have a gorgeous Buddy Dog from Guide Dogs join our family, which has brought non-stop fun! I can usually be found at a football match or gymnastics training session over the weekend, ferrying the children to various events. I have been attempting to learn to speak French over the last year and am hoping to be able to string a sentence or two together in time for Paris Olympics.

Thanks Ellie - and 'bonne chance' with the French!