The new Easle website lets brands hire freelance designers, illustrators and photographers without an agency

Easle's homepage

This website aims to make it easier for freelancers to get hired by big brands – without needing an agent or to enter exploitative 'competitions'.

Say goodbye to agency fees – this digital platform is looking to offer an alternative to the traditional agency-talent model, and its clients now include global advertising agency Ogilvy, Penguin, and Netflix.

With the rise of independent and freelance graphic designers, photographers, illustrators and other creatives across the globe, it’s becoming harder for a handful of large agencies or recruitment firms to represent everyone. In fact, freelancers now contribute more than £20 billion to the UK creative economy.

That’s why a new democratised digital platform, – which pairs creatives with clients without the hassle of an agency – has received massive investment and support from London digital product studio ustwo and Ian Hambleton of Studio Output among other industry leaders. 

The UK start-up provides an online service for its client list (already over 200), who can search, negotiate, brief, create contracts and pay creative freelancers from around the world, making the process between agency and freelancer a whole lot easier and less expensive – all the while aiming to maintain “a high calibre of talent.”

It’s been successfully trialled with illustrators, and with the invested financial support, will look to expand the platform to include graphic design, animation, photography and videography.

Easle is designed to “bridge the gap between online marketplaces offering low quality and cost, and traditional agents offering a small group of artists at a high expense.” To achieve this goal, the community of talent is curated by leading creative industry figures such as Claudine O’Sullivan (who was commissioned by Apple to illustrate with the Apple Pencil), and who have backed the start-up in £450,000 seeds funding. This means post investment funding values the company at £2 million.

Besides expanding the artist base, the funding will help to build an app, and long term goals such as providing tools to support the lifestyle of businesses and freelancers, like managing finances and accounts, and flexible working hours.

Easle began last year between founders Nick Gubbins and Scott Wooden, who saw an issue with poor freelance platforms and agents taking large cuts. This relationship has been amplified with the “burgeoning creative freelance community”, as Easle describes it. Easle has been created so freelancers can share their work, while allowing clients to browse for inspiration, or to book, pay and manage the process of a commissioned project.

How Easle Works

You can search for illustrators (and soon to be more disciplines) by location or name, or see who is suggested for you by Claudine O’Sullivan and other curators. You can also inquire after an additional illustrator who may not be kept on Easle’s small online roster.

From there, a project plan can be created through a messaging style conversation, including discussion around proposals, contracts, and payments with its built-in system. Easle describes itself as “part human, part robot” – this means if you have any troubles about forming a brief or disputes with clients, you can email Easle, otherwise the online system is left pretty much up to you.

For artists, you need to apply to be featured on the website. Once approved, you can create your porfolio right on the Easle website and the team at Easle will make sure your work gets put in front of the right people. But the platform also encourages artists to be a community together, organising conversations online and real life meetups. 

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn't affect our editorial independence. Learn more.

Read Next...