Skye Kelly-Barrett explains how her new art & illustration agency stands out from the pack.
Skye Kelly-Barrett is probably best known to DA readers as the mastermind behind online art store Skull & Heart, and 2016's excellent all-female art book Hear Me Roar. This year sees a new venture from Skye that makes a similar kind of noise whilst bringing a much needed alternative to the current art agency scene.
Roar is the name of this boutique art and illustration agency, one which Skye hopes will bring representation to art and artists within the New Contemporary art field, focusing on alternative & low-brow artists. Featuring some great new names like Keeley Sheppard and Rosie Toole on its books, it's clear the London-based Roar has already got off to the best of starts.
"Roar was founded based on the idea of putting the artist and their career first," Skye tells us. "I wanted to create something positive, a space where artists could feel respected and listened to, not just pushed to create as much work as possible so that the only thing that mattered was making as much money as possible. It really is time to focus on artists rather than the end product, squeezing the life out of them."
On the age-old of issue of art, money and integrity, Skye has a very optimistic philosophy, as learnt from her ongoing role at Skull & Heart. "I have found that if you listen to the artists and what they can and cannot do, you’re more likely to get the best work possible for them," she says, "which in turn means higher quality work and hopefully an increase in jobs for both them and the agency."
"I have been lucky enough to know and work with the artists on various projects before founding Roar," she continues, "so I have a great understanding of who they are and how they work."
Whilst knowing her artist's 'limits', Skye has been careful to know hers and her agency's, making a "conscious point" to close the books with 13 artists.
"I did not want to just take on a whole selection of artists; that’s not what Roar is about. I knew I wanted to take the first year to find our feet and carve out a space for ourselves, and try to work out where it is we sit and what it is we can offer that’s different."
Some recent Roar commissions include Elena Gumeniuk's recent FA Cup animation (below), and video game work from Liane Plant & Mr Gauky for new release Onrush.
Future plans for Roar meanwhile include workshops, talks, and podcasts, along with the launch of the Roar Grant in late 2019, as a way of financially supporting small projects from exhibitions, to print releases and art books.
"I do believe what we have is something special, with our field being lowbrow, pop surrealist and new contemporary art and illustration," Skye says when summing up Roar's unique position in the marketplace.
"Also, you won’t just find illustrators in our books; they range from fine artists, mural artists, writers, painters, animators. You name it, they work in it, and the work they create is phenomenal."