About a half an hour before my meeting with said agency, I was told that the in-person "interview" had been changed to a phone call and to ring this person on their cell. Within the first few seconds on the phone I was asked to tell my story, in other words, what Travel Write Draw is all about. Not for a second did I think I was doing anything other than selling myself with the hopes of being signed...
After finishing my whole pitch about my clients and growth strategy, I was told that I was too similar to the sole illustrator they represent, and that my only differentiating factor was my work in the travel sector. Regardless, I was asked to forward my media kit in to be passed on to their brand team internally and to follow up in a couple weeks. So I remained hopeful and reached out again just before/regarding my trip to Morocco for some thoughts on partnerships. Low and behold, the day I returned to NYC, this agency's one and only artist was embarking on their own near identical illustrated journey to the one I just took (with a sparkling new travel hashtag to boot).
My jaw just about hit the floor. It finally dawned on me that I was never interviewed with the intention of being signed. I was interviewed with their intention of gaining access to my strategy. I wasn't ever going to be added to their roster, rather they took what made me different and added it to the repertoire of their existing artist. Now I'm certainly NOT the first person this has happened to in history. The fashion industry is riddled with theft of ideas, designs, intellectual property etc, but it had yet to happen to me until now.
And so where does this leave me...I usually skim over all the heartbreak that goes on behind the scenes here on Travel Write Draw. But what good does it do anyone to pretend like everything is ok all the time?! Life isn't about not falling, it's about making the choice to get up again after you do. I'm often told that I wear my heart on my sleeve. Maybe it has something to do with being a Canadian that I just assume everyone is looking out for my best interest, but that just isn't reality. NYC is a cutthroat city. Some people say it's just business; to me it feels like dirty business.
But this post isn't about me getting knocked down or mistreated. This post is about helping my community, who also dream of being full-time illustrators, to learn from my mistake of trusting the not so trustworthy. This is about taking the awful, shitty moments and making them count for something good. You can never stop someone from taking your ideas. You can't stop anyone from trying to replicate what you do. The best and ONLY way to be irreplaceable is to be different, moreover, to be yourself.
In closing, remember to be authentic, embrace what makes you truly unique, don't try to be a second rate version of someone else; really blow out what makes you the first rate version of you!! I'm not concerned so much with what I've already done. I'm concerned with what I'm about to do next. The ones who survive are the ones who adapt and evolve. The best artists in the world are the ones who constantly reinvent while still staying true to their core message and audience. Growth is where the intrigue lies and this is just the beginning for me. Dream big, start small, be bold, be bright, be you.
Has anyone been through a similar situation before? I would love to hear your thoughts below.
Much love always,