If you already know the work of Basel-based illustrator Jürg Lindenberger then you’ll be familiar with his pure, exuberant use of color and character, and unashamedly childlike outlook on life. But there’s another side to Lindenberger you may have missed; the ruthless illustration agent, representing global creative talent in Germany and Switzerland. It’s a brand new string to his bow.
Lindenberger and his girlfriend, Lucy Schmid, set up Studio Pony earlier this year to provide an alternative source of income and fill a gap in the European market. “It was just an idea that was a long time in my head,” says Lindenberger. “My girlfriend quit her job after ten years, so I told her about this idea I had. With illustration, it’s really hard to survive, so I thought maybe we should do something different; an illustration agency.
“In Switzerland, illustration agencies don’t exist. We contacted people working in graphic design to announce that we had launched, but people didn’t even get what we were doing. I have the feeling that in UK and USA, everybody knows what an illustration agency is. Here people don’t really get it. I think we are getting there—I hope so anyway, so people will understand it and give us some work.”
Currently Studio Pony represents eight illustrators, Lindenberger included, from the UK, Japan, and Europe working specifically within the German-speaking market. Currently growth is slow, as clients become accustomed to the alien concept of an agency, but Lindenberger is confident that with the talent on his books, things will begin to pick up. After all, his personal approach to promotion has won him clients all over the world.
“It’s not about being aggressive,” he says, “but if maybe three times a year we send out some promo or something—it’s really mellow what we do. It’s just not the usual way people do things here. Maybe people have enough money to not have to promote themselves, I don’t know. It’s weird.”
For Lindenberger and Schmid, Studio Pony is the perfect way to support their own careers and be flexible enough to run alongside having a young family. Having just had their second child, their working schedules have been impacted somewhat. “With having babies and stuff, we can’t work in the same way, and I always had this idea that in illustration maybe you have a career of ten years, 15 tops. I think new people come up and will be doing cooler stuff than you, or you are just old, you know what I mean?
“Illustration, it gets a bit old I think. So this is an opportunity to have a career in illustration for a lifetime, but not have to do it myself. Now I can just work with people I really love.”