Posted 23 April 2024
Interview by Isabelle Cassidy
Mention James Childs

What does being an artist’s agent really involve? James Childs brings us up to speed

As we come into contact with the work of artists, illustrators and animators in our everyday lives, we might not consider the people working hard behind the scenes to represent them. Although he started out studying journalism, agent James Childs is the recent founder of Bold Child, a creative agency representing diverse talent in illustration, animation and CGI. It was James’ deep-rooted passion for visual culture that led him to his current role – driven by a desire to champion talent from different ethnic backgrounds, genders and perspectives. Here, he discusses what being an agent involves, and where to begin if you’re considering it as a career.

James Childs

James Childs

Job Title

Agent and Founder of Bold Child



Selected Clients

Rhino, Brixton House, The Guardian, Penguin, The Mercury Prize

Previous Employment

Agent, B&A, 2022–2023

Place of Study

BA Journalism, University of the Arts London, 2012–2015


Social Media


What I do

How would you describe what you do?
As an agent, I have a roster of creative talent. I work to connect them with clients who will commission or work with them. A big part of what I do is understanding visual culture and creativity, and building relationships with creatives and clients.

What does the day-to-day of being an agent involve?
My day can consist of in-person or video-call meetings with clients. If it’s an introductory meeting, I’ll be doing a presentation explaining what Bold Child is and the amazing artists at the agency. If it’s a meeting about a job – the artist, the client and I will typically discuss the expectations and how it’ll be executed.

I also try to stay in contact with my artists to know what they’re up to creatively and to give any client feedback. My day also involves a lot of outreach to potential clients, updating portfolios, managing social media and looking for any interesting networking events.

Suleeko Abdis Goal Illustration

Bold Child artist Suleeko Abdis’s illustration

Arina Emelianovas CGI Illustration 2

CGI illustration by Bold Child artist Arina Emelianova

Taka Yukis Illustration

Illustration by Bold Child artist Taka Yukis

Rajvi Bhogaitas Illustration 1

Work by Bold Child artist Rajvi Bhogaitas

Would you say you need any specific training for what you do?
Not really. The main thing is being able to build relationships, having a passion and eye for visual culture and understanding artists and clients. Although it’s not essential, having advertising-related training may be useful to understand different terminologies and budget structures, deliverables and usages. A good skill to have is being solution-oriented.

What’s been your favourite project to work on from the past year, and why?
We launched in mid-January so we’re still racking up our projects, but one of my favourites so far has been producing the visuals for Brixton House’s play Is Dat U Yh?.

The play explores Black British culture during the 2000s, when I was in secondary school. I think Komikamo, the illustrator who created the illustrations, did an amazing job of capturing that essence. I went to see the play and it was nice seeing the illustrations on the playbook, as well as the positive response people gave it on social media.

James’ artist Komikamo’s illustration for ‘Is Dat U Yh?’ performed at Brixton House theatre

Bold Child represents diverse emerging and established talent, is this something you’ve always wanted to involve in your professional life?
I’ve always cared about diversity. Earlier in my career, I used to host art-based events like exhibitions and ‘paint and sip’ sessions, I just enjoyed bringing together a diverse range of visual artists (like illustrators and painters). Later in my career stepping into the professional creative industry, I kept being in rooms with clients, agents, and artists and noticing a lack of diversity, or seeing people of colour always in junior positions.

There are different reasons for that. I know growing up in an African and Caribbean household, the idea of making money from art or creativity seemed very far-fetched, and people of colour make up a relatively small percentage of the UK. But our culture is something brands tap into all the time, and London has such a diverse range of people. When it comes to employing, educating and working with talent, I encourage decision-makers to give opportunities to talent from diverse backgrounds. This creates authentic experiences that are representative of what London looks like.

“I kept being in rooms with clients, agents and artists and noticing a lack of diversity.”

How I got here

What was your journey like when you were first starting out?
I studied Journalism at the London College of Communication, UAL and one of our collaborative projects was to create a media platform. I created a magazine called Next Up which essentially showcased the next up-and-coming talent in art, fashion and music. I was very inspired by SBTV, GRM Daily and so on. I soon realised music and fashion felt oversaturated so I focused more on art.

That magazine turned into an events platform, where I would do art-based events at Boxpark Shoreditch. Then COVID came and I was really interested in creating an agency where I could work with artists more closely and not be restricted to in-person projects like events. During this time I also worked as a project manager at Make Shift, the company that owns Peckham Levels, Pop Brixton and Hackney Bridge.

It was after leaving this company that I started as an agent at global management agency B&A. Overall, I wouldn’t say my studies directly related to my current role, but always having an interest and passion for visual culture led me to becoming an agent.

How did you land your first few jobs, clients, or commissions?
Building relationships. The first job I received was from a company called Sporting Eric and I had worked with them previously. The first week Bold Child launched, the founder really liked what I was doing. They gave us the opportunity for my artist Xtima to create the front cover for The Rugby Journal and the tagline for the sporting goods brand RHINO.

We’re also working on a book project which should be released later this year. Overall, landing our first jobs has been a mixture of pre-existing relationships, doing in-person meetings with clients at their offices, or even going to the London Book Fair and connecting with clients by sending emails and LinkedIn.

Front cover for The Rugby Journal by James’ artist Xtima

What has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Being a new agency, it takes time and careful planning to leave an impression on people. There are so many agencies that it's a big challenge to stand out. Although Bold Child is Black-owned and has a diverse roster, and the creative industry talks about diversity, there’s still a level of trust, visibility and recognition we need to build, which is both challenging and exciting.

What are three things that you’ve found useful to your work or career, and why?

As a whole, although not directly related to my career, focusing on my self-care has been useful for my career and making decisions. Starting a business and representing artists can be a lot of pressure, so I always find time to focus on self-care. This includes going to the gym early, hanging out with friends, listening to calm music while I’m working and being realistic and positive.

Secondly, attending events such as exhibitions and galleries, I recently attended The Time is Always Now at the National Portrait Gallery. I really enjoy seeing visually compelling and thought provoking art.

Lastly, I really enjoy reading. I recently finished reading Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson and Kevin Hart’s I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons. Whether fact or fiction, it’s nice to delve into someone else’s story, and be inspired or reminded that everyone’s journey has ups and downs.

‘The Verge’ illustration by James’ artist Adrián A Astorgano

Have there been any courses, programmes, initiatives, access schemes or job boards you’ve found helpful or would recommend to get into your sector?
As an Agent or Illustrator, the platform Agents for Change, is a really useful platform. It brings all of the Agents together and ensures that all working towards diversifying the industry and Illustrators can go on there and sign up for portfolio reviews and resources.

AOI is also a great platform for illustrators and anyone interested in understanding the business side of illustration. I enjoyed being a mentor on their mentorship scheme last year.

Although I haven’t had experience with Pathways, they offer great courses for aspiring illustrators and authors trying to break into the publishing industry. So anyone interested in books I’d recommend giving them a look.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
My previous director Sam Summerskill said something along the lines of “Ideas always win”. That resonated with me because a big part of the creative industry (and life in general) revolves around people having ideas and executing them well.

If you’re able to create a great idea and share it with the right people, that can trump money and name recognition. Obviously, that’s an oversimplification, but it always reminds me that great ideas with great execution can have a real impact.

“If you’re able to create a great idea and share it with the right people, that can trump money and name recognition.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into a similar role?
Every agent is different, but at the core, it’s a sales job. I’ve seen some agents be focused on the sales, and others be focused on the work. I think to be a great agent it’s good to have a healthy balance of both. Having an interest in visual culture is the first thing I’d recommend, from paintings to advertisements and everything in between.

Secondly, focus on building relationships with artists and clients. Understand what clients look for, and what artists like to create, then how to connect the two. Lastly, seeing it as a sales role, being persistent and thick-skinned is really important, as well as understanding the core foundation of business, sales and marketing.


Bold Child artist Taka Yuki’s work

Juliene Buelos Typography Illustration 2

Illustration by James’ artist Juliene Buelos

Mylène Dagnets Illustration 2

Work by James’ artist Mylène Dagnets

Where would you point people who want to know about different jobs in the creative industry?
Style and Sound do great networking events for the creative industry. What’s cool about them is that they have industry-specific events as well as general events. If you’re unsure, you can attend some of these events and speak to people about their experience in that industry.

Creative Access is a job platform but they also do events that delve into specific creativity industries (music industry and publishing). It’s a good site to look at job profiles and see what suits you and attend some of their events.

It’s Nice That provides a great overview of what’s happening in the creative industry from big advertising agencies to artists releasing projects. Their Nicer Tuesdays event series can also be a great source of inspiration for creatives and insight into the creative industry.

Interview by Isabelle Cassidy
Mention James Childs