From an agents perspective, Suzanne Cruise tells you what she really thinks!

This is a meaty one, peeps! Suzanne Cruise is an art agent who was once an artist herself. Twenty-two years as an art agent has given her quite bit of insight and she delivers it in this interview. She talks about why her attitude often differs from other agents, and it may just surprise you. She tells you what you absolutely NEED to know as you try to sell your art to manufacturers. Suzanne and her team at Cruise Creative are real pros.  I was pleased to learn she DOES open and read her ALL emails.  I am sure her box is clogged!! This is a good one to tune into if you want to understand current trends in retail, if you are thinking about showing at a trade show and what one good thing you might add to your portfolio. (Ok, one good thing I think you could add to your portfolio!) This is a detailed interview and it will help you avoid costly mistakes. Give Suzanne a shout out in the comments and let her know what you learned!

Links to posts that where mentioned in this interview

How to think like a shopper

What I really think of art licensing

This imagery is from some of the artists in her group

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  • This is such an interesting talk and I will listen to it again tonight. As someone who had been illustrating for 15 years then let things peter out when I had two children (and went down the wrong road direct selling for a few years before setting up my own brand Moobaacluck)I thought that Suzanne’s advice about taking an agent if she had to start again was so interesting. An agent approached me about 6 years ago when my second child was just 1. I couldn’t take handle it then and the agent wasn’t a good fit. I worked as an in house artist for years and a product manager briefing artists so I know a lot but as for pinning myself down. Great interview.

    • daft question! Loved this interview but would be happy for you to remove my comments Monica.. a bit of a potted history. Sorry!

  • Wonderful interview touching on so many need-to-know points. I have listened to hundreds of talks on art licensing and this is one of the most authentic perspectives on working with companies and agents, even for a self-represented artist like myself. Thanks for the great tips. I’ll be sharing this…

    • Monica Lee

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Cherish! I appreciate that you thought it was authentic 🙂 I like to think I am keepin’ it real!

  • Fabulous interview (Thanks Monica and Suzanne) – I was soaking up every word and wishing it could keep going on when it was over! I was so happy that you guys touched on the issue of style (collage, vector, etc) because that is the area that I tend to feel the most angst with my work…and where does my look fit in…how do I need to change, etc. All very good honest helpful information! Many thanks – lots to chew on now…


    • Monica Lee

      Oh So glad it helped, Becky!

  • Very good interview, Monica and Suzanne with some really helpful information!

    I have been in children’s illustration since 1999 but have just started licensing some of my art on my own in the past few years, especially while the children’s publishing world is in such a state of flux.

    I also opened an Etsy store in May and excited about all of the possibilities but I do find it more and more difficult to find time to create new art and do all the other stuff, too.

    Thank you for being so generous in sharing all these wonderful tidbits of information.

  • Hi Monica, I’m wondering if the Tradeshow mentioned would be appropriate for my Kids Sewing DVDs? Is it a gift show? And how do you spell it? I tried Certex, Certax and Certix and didn’t find anything on Google. Creatively, Katrina Marie

    • Monica Lee

      Hi It is Surtex and it is for Surface and and textile Design. You can read about it here-mostly for 2-D art pattern designers

  • Lana Gordon Rast

    Great interview. Thank you for sharing so much info from all perspectives. It is a joint effort on everyone’s part and it is good to be reminded of that. Also I appreciate hearing that it is, or can be good to promote yourself on Etsy etc. I was torn about that. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  • Kim

    Wonderful interview…thank you! Such great insight on the artist / agent relationship. Mrs. Cruise’s advice on evolving vs. completely changing your style overnight was interesting. I have several styles of art that I like to work on and am often torn on how to promote them simultaneously. Perhaps I’ll mesh my styles a little more. Love all the great insight…thank you both!

  • Great interview Monica. I love to hear that you don’t work in Illustrator either…I’m a photoshop girl too..I spoke to Suzanne at Surtex a few years back when I was looking into agents and she was so kind and helpful.

    Keep up the great interviews!

    xo Christine

  • Great interview! I’ve talked with Suzanne in the past and she is incredibly knowledgeable & generous! I’m focused on children’s book illustration at the moment, but loved this interview. It helps keep licensing on simmer in my brain for when I’m ready for that market.

  • I will be listening to this talk more than once Monica. Thank you to you and to Suzanne!! Mnica you really asked the right questions, and Suzanne you answered so honestly and openly. I am wondering what is the best format for submitting work to agents? A printed tear sheet, or on a disc? How do you like to receive work, or is there an industry standard that I don’t know about?
    Thank you SO much!

    • Monica Lee

      I think most agents want to see a put together professional website. You can send them a link with a private portfolio or you can send a couple of collections (maybe 3-6) in PDF format to see if they are interested in your work. But remember they are going to want a fairly large body before they can begin representing you. That’s my 2 cents!

  • Monica another great interview! Thank you. Suzanne has been my agent for several years now, and I have learned so much from her. One of best thing about working with Suzanne and her agency is I have always felt they believe in me and my artwork 100%! We have a great partnership. Thanks Suzanne for being so generous with your experience and knowledge.

  • Monica, Thank you so much for doing these interviews! There is so much to learn and I have been listening to them and taking notes and bookmarking websites.

    Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your expertise with us!

  • Thank you Monica & Suzanne for this interview. Very enjoyable and informative. Having been signed to Suzannes agency for a few months now I’ve discovered how helpful she and her staff are to some of us newbies. Soo much to learn. I’m glad I have someone so knowledgeable in her field to work with.

  • Juicy is RIGHT! I’m still wiping my chin….
    Great stuff, and so exciting to listen to such an open, honest, “tell-it-like-it-is” agent who loves artists AND understands the nitty gritty business end. Thank you, Monica and Suzanne!

  • Monica,
    The last two interviews I saw were meaty, juicy and so “well-done” (pardon the pun). Both Tara Gentile and Suzanne Cruise are obviously professionals who decline to sugar-coat the business of being in business.
    Thank you for tapping into such generous resources.

  • Hi Monica,
    this is such a fabulous interview. Very open and honest. For someone like me, new to licensing, there was so much information. Its all too daunting when its new. But I love how suzanne says that there is nothing intimidating about agents.
    I’ll definitely be listening to this interview again 🙂
    Thanks, Suzanne and Monica.

  • Fantastic interview, Monica! As always, your choice of guest is MUCH APPRECIATED! I loved the detailed information and Suzanne’s approachability is inspiring… I need to look for an agent. I agree with her comment about working hard: I want to be working hard “on the board” not so much in the promotion. ps; Henry Cats and Friends are a trip! Looks like a great match for your studio, Suzanne.

  • I would like to hear more from Suzanne. Her experience and observations are critical to us who want to keep moving forward in licensing. I’d like to hear more about her marketing, developing new relationships with manufacturers, tips on Surtex, what to show in collections,etc. Encore!

  • Thanks for this valuable interview.I think it’s apparent Suzanne has out lasted other reps because she is steadfast and smart. Gonna google the Henry Cats now!

    Suzanne U.

  • Dropping just to ley you know, Monica, that it was a fantastic interview. So good for us, new comers, who are trying to sort out how to position ourselves into the market. Your questions showed how into the industry you are. Ans Suzanne’s takes on it were very rich, sincere and helpful. Thank you very much, ladies.

  • Tara Daavettila

    Informative, helpful in so many ways…what a great opportunity to learn, thank you so much.