Interview with an Agent: Jo Astles
last updated 14 February 2023
Interview by Rachel Moffat
Our agents move mountains, working with our artists to make dreams come true. In this blog series, we sit down with our experts and give you an insight into their story and their passion for all things Bright.
Join us now as we interview: Jo Astles
How long have you been working for Bright? Tell us a little about your career journey.
I joined Bright in July 2021. Prior to that I was actually a client of Bright’s. I had worked with them for about 10 years, licencing and commissioning greetings card artwork. I had a long history with Bright and when I saw the job advertised I thought, “that is my dream job”. So, I applied, and here we are. I think it is the best decision I’ve ever made!
Where did your love of art come from?
I’ve always been doodling, drawing and colouring in, ever since I was a kid. I used to love being buried away scribbling and making cards for my friends and family. I had no idea then that it would become my career.
How did you get into the greetings card industry?
My background is in graphic design, which I studied at university. I fell into greetings cards completely by accident. I thought I would probably end up being an artworker somewhere, then I saw a job advertised for a greetings card company and I just thought, “oh, that sounds interesting”… and I fell in love with it!
What do you look for in an artist?
I’m looking for someone who has a strong commercial eye. They need variety in their work. They’ll be a bit different. I’m looking for the nuggets of gold and when I find them, it’s a great feeling.
Bright Artist Jennifer Jeavons with Agent Jo Astles
Tell us about the first/most exciting project one of your artists worked on?
Any project that comes in from Up With Paper is exciting because they’ve got cool concepts. Sarah Long recently did a ‘goddess trophy’ design that looks fantastic. It’s interesting to see how those ideas are put together and then how the artist executes them. I also loved seeing how Sanja Rescek’s new range for Paper Rose developed. It’s a strong, bright design concept.
When you’re not working, what does a day in the life of Jo look like?
A typical weekend: After a lazy morning scrolling through Instagram and TikTok, drinking copious amounts of coffee, I head out to meet friends for brunch. I’m a big fan of ‘mooching’. I love exploring different parts of London, seeing all kinds of architecture whilst rummaging around independent stores. I’m like a little magpie, drawn to shiny pretty things!
What has been your best day at Bright?
I love every day with Bright! No two days are the same. It’s great to be working with so many people who genuinely love what they do as much as I do. You get to work with some incredibly talented artists and when you can land them the perfect/dream job … that’s what we’re all about.
What has been the biggest hurdle in your career?
I think it was making the transition to agenting. I was working in the greetings card industry for over 16 years as a designer and creative manager but I knew I was looking for something else, I just wasn’t sure what it was. I’d always admired Bright’s work and the artists they represent. So, I would say my biggest hurdle was taking that leap and applying for the role.
Agent Lucie Luddington, Artist Marta Kissi, Curator Winnie Okunbor, Agent Anna Zieger, Agent Jo Astles, Agent Robyn Newton, Artist James Lancett
What do you know about the industry now that you wish you could have told yourself when you first started?
How much variety is out there! It’s great to see how other clients and companies envisage their products, and their way of thinking. As you talk more and more with them you start to learn what they like and dislike. So, work hard with those relationships and trust your instincts.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
You need to think about who you’re creating for, you need look at the market and think about who’s buying the product. A good exercise is to think of somebody that you know and create something for them.
A final message?
Most importantly, love what you do and don’t be afraid to take risks. You never know where it could lead you.
Get in contact with Jo here.