Can you give us a bit of background on Easle – how long has it existed for, who’s involved etc.
Easle was started in 2016 when founders Nick & Scott saw so many of their friends living the reality of the struggling artist – caught between low quality freelance platforms and agents taking large cuts. Using Nick’s development skills and Scott’s seven years experience as a designer and freelancer, they decided to take action and build a new way for brands, agencies and businesses to discover and work with high quality creative talent from around the world.
Following months of research with freelancers from across the creative spectrum, as well as those who hire them, Easle was launched in April this year, looking to bridge the disconnect between high quality creative freelancers and businesses.
Starting with a small group of illustrators, we’ve been busy adding more talent, whilst growing a varied client base which includes Ogilvy, Diageo and Penguin Random House. In September we closed our seed funding, with investment from design industry heavyweights ustwo, and Ian Hambleton from Studio Output and Glug. The team has since expanded to 6, and we’re proud to be part of the ustwo Adventure family.
What are your hopes or ambitions for it?
We want to be the go to place to hire great creative talent, as well as being a valuable resource for the talent themselves.
At the moment, there are three options for discovering and hiring creative talent – recruiters, personal networks and online platforms. Recruiters and agents are expensive for companies and limiting for talent, self promotion is time consuming and often ineffective, and online platforms often offer low quality talent, briefs and pay, with portfolios a secondary consideration to low costs. We want to completely disrupt this process, putting the work first, and featuring only the best talent.
Who do you see your audience as? / Where do you see yourselves sitting in the existing landscape?
From publishers, to advertising agencies to big brands and magazines, to your new local restaurant – we’re providing a service for people who want to hire the best in creative talent, and value the craft that this talent can offer.
We’re the first people to take the care traditionally offered by agents and recruiters, and apply this to an online marketplace. This means you get access to the top talent, and can view their portfolios, contact and brief them, but with lower commissions that only an online platform can afford to charge.
We also want to create something that’s truly useful to the creative community – a space they can find quality work from exciting companies, and a community they can be a part of.
You launched with illustration and today are adding graphic design – it might be an obvious question but – what other areas would you like to branch into?
We’re already building our rosters of photographers, animators and videographers – and these will be launching early next year. Beyond this, we want to expand out into any creative discipline we can provide value to – whether that be writers or stylists, makeup artists or composers.
With the right effort anyone could replicate the idea of Easle – what makes it unique? – is it the curation aspect?
The way that we curate is definitely something that sets us apart. For each discipline, we partner with a leader in that field to select the talent. For graphic design we’re working with Sam T Smith – Sam is a past winner of the D&AD New Blood Black Pencil and is co-curator of the ME & EU postcard series, going on display later this year at the Design Museum. He is also the co-founder of yearly football publication Season Annual. Sam joins Claudine O’Sullivan, our illustration ambassador whose amazing work has featured in campaigns for Apple amongst others. Our Head of Community Nick then meets every successful applicant, either by Skype or ideally in person.
We also vet our client base. This is to ensure that our top quality talent is getting top quality work – we don’t want anyone being asked to work for free, or at very low rates. We’re not looking to create a product that just works for clients, but one that also works for the talent on the site. People spend years developing their skills as designers, illustrators, photographers – and this deserves to be respected.
Having technical founders, we’re also always looking to develop and update the platform to work for our users. For example, we’ll be applying machine learning to the briefing process – this will eventually allow you to upload your inspiration, and use AI to find suitable talent.