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Kate Kendrick '14 sits in front of book shelf

The illustration agent

You’re in a children’s book store, and “you see a cover that’s just stunning, or it’s whimsical in some way. Or there’s an expression on a character’s face that just draws you in.

“And you really just want to open that cover and keep going,” said Kate Kendrick ’14. “And then the words draw you in, and then it becomes this beautiful, harmonious play of words and pictures. And that’s what really brings a story to life.”

Kendrick makes that harmony happen. She is an illustration agent, matching illustrators who create evocative art with publishers, licensing companies, greeting card companies and others. She is the global manager at Astound USA Inc., where she leads a team of six agents, including two in the United Kingdom, who find and develop their stable of 178 or so artists from around the globe and connect them with publishers for board books, picture books, graphic novels and more.

 Publishers generally approach her team with specific ideas about the style of art – traditional mediums or graphic style, for example – that they desire, but she also pitches to publishers when “we have a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for,” she said. When the match is made, the artist starts work on a project that may take up to a year to complete.

Kendrick, an abstract painter in her own right, is always on the lookout for new artists, and launches several each month. Her company keeps most of its freelancers busy full-time. The best part of her job, she said, is working one-on-one with an artist to develop that person’s ability to “have really good character interaction, subtle emotion or hidden details in a scene, something that you wouldn’t expect. That’s what we help them do – those little hidden gems that really put them at the next level as an illustrator.”



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