The Model and the Agency – A Look at the Role of Representation

When a model works, she or he tends to do so through an agency. There are a number of reasons for this – the primary one, from the point of view of the model and his or her immediate career, is the ability to take advantage of a network of pre-existing contacts.
The agent works in most corners of media life, from writing to acting to music and dance. He or she may have a specialty in specific areas – for example, a fiction agent only represents fiction authors to fiction publishers – or he or she may take on a wider range of things. This latter trope is exemplified by the acting agent, who may also act as a voice agent for his or her existing clients.
Model and the Agency
 
In every case, from acting agent to modelling agent, the agency and its individual employees have access to an existing network of potential employers. It is normally true to say that these employers only work with people who come to them through agencies: the agent, in the eyes of the employer, functions as a barrier between work quality and work done. That is to say, it is the responsibility of the agent to find what is saleable, and what will work, and to represent only what he or she believes will fit with his or her client base. As a result, that client base trusts his or her judgement, and so is willingly disposed towards models who come to them through the proper avenue.
From the point of view of the model, as noted, this means a much higher likelihood of work. In basic terms, if you get signed to an agency the implication is that the agent in question believes he or she can place you with his or her clients: and therefore your chances of getting a job begin to rise. The more prestigious the agent, the more prestigious the client – and so the more exposure the model’s career achieves.
There are shades of agent within the modelling world, just as there are varieties of literary or dramatic agent. Some modelling agencies, for example, have only “glamour” models on their books (a glamour model is usually an underwear model and may also engage in titillating work for magazines and newspapers); while others may have a specialty in a completely different area.
 
Remember that “models” aren’t just the oddly thin ladies and androgynous men we see on the catwalk. High fashion is a world in and of itself, and while some of its visual tropes may filter down to other areas, it’s also true to say that modern attitudes towards the human body are becoming less unhealthily obsessed. A “model” is anyone who is employed primarily for his or her appearance, either to present a product or service or to simply wear it – and can be of any actual physical type and look, from “natural” to “normal” to impossibly glamorous.
It is the role of the agent to define the types of models he or she works with – and to ensure they are placed properly for client requirements.
 
Author bio: With fellow directors Paula Harrison and Glynn Evans, Dave Gibbs owns and runs Source Models. Established in 2003 they are now one of the UK‘s leading commercial modelling agencies. Source models supply models, presenters and actors to the advertising industry, you can see our people on websites, leaflets, TV and major print campaigns across UK and Europe.

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