Meet The Team: Hanna Zakouri

We sat down with Hanna, a Creative Agent at Jelly New York to chat about her varied career journey so far, living in creative hubs around the world, and the key to keeping relationships with artists strong...

Monday 27 November 2023
By Hanna Zakouri

What is your role at Jelly and what does it entail?

I’m a Creative Agent in our New York studio and I wear 2 hats: Artists’ Agent and Project Manager for illustration jobs.

I represent our incredible roster of 20 illustrators and lettering artists. Promoting their work across the US market and creating awareness and opportunities that align with their artistic vision and career goals. I ensure that their contract terms are fair and favorable. This includes discussing terms, fees, deadlines, and all aspects of a project to ensure the best possible outcome. As an agent my role also entails finding the perfect artist to realize clients’ vision and helping them figure that out, is what I love the most.

Once a project kicks off, I then act as a liaison between the artist and agency or brand, addressing their respective needs and ensuring that it all runs smoothly until the initial idea sees the light of day. So essentially nurturing both the creative and business aspects of our Artists’ careers. I’m also ALWAYS on the lookout for new emerging talents! I just had a baby so I have less time to do it but I spend most of my free time scouting artists.

You’ve had a very varied career. What roles and experiences have led you here?

In hindsight, my education and early career experiences led me to become an agent.

I was born and raised in Paris where I graduated high school in Economics then graduated College in Art Direction. I ‘secretly’ wanted to be the artist ha! but also really really am a sucker for anything behind-the-scenes and learning how things are made. Right out of college, I realized a Producer’s role was the perfect mix of both and interned at advertising agencies. As Art buyer’s and Producer’s assistant I had the chance to work alongside incredible human beings who taught me the ropes while having fun doing it! (Shoutout to Thomas Laget) Then it was it’s my time as Head Production Manager at Parallel Studio that opened my eyes to the beauty of Illustration and Animation. It made me want to dive deeper into that world rather than live action. Being an agent now, I’m sort of on the other side of the relationship, closer to artists and closer to my true love for Art Direction and the craft.

For you, what’s been the most rewarding/notable project you’ve worked on?

To be honest, as long as an artist is happy and proud of the work they’ve created and enjoyed the process along the way then it’s rewarding for me.

The most recent campaign Alva Skog illustrated for Apple was very rewarding, because it had a lot of moving pieces, various interrelated elements that needed to be managed and coordinated effectively and required true collaborative efforts. I LOVE projects that feel like a Rubik’s cube at first and when my role is to optimize it. So rewarding to see all the colors coming together and align. Not going to lie, it was also everywhere in New York for consecutive weeks and everytime I passed a gigantic billboard or an Apple store, it would put the biggest smile on my face.

I moved to New York 8 years ago with big dreams and this was definitely a personal achievement.

Tell us the best thing about being part of the Jelly team!

The most talented and down to earth artists and supportive and intuitive teammates. We are all driven to provide the best support to our Artists and bespoke creative services to our clients. I joined the team during Covid and was hired remotely but instantly felt the connection. Like family. I had been freelancing for months before and was longing to find a team like this one.  Also with our main HQ in London, I have to say I have a major soft spot for Brits’ sarcasm and candidness - maybe because I’m french. I just got back from maternity leave and legit missed the team so much!

What does craft mean to you?

Labor of love. Where your heart guides your hands to create something new. It’s an emotional investment, creating something with care and dedication. It goes beyond mere production and reflects a deep connection to the process, a commitment to quality, and a genuine love for the work at hand. When you love what you're doing, you infuse it with a piece of yourself, and that emotional connection is evident in the final piece.

How do you keep your agent-artist relationships strong?

I think it’s definitely built over time and on mutual trust. I’d say honest and transparent communication is essential. Drop emails and just get on a call or meet in person if you can, to ​​minimize misunderstandings. Regularly discuss goals, expectations, preferences and any concerns or questions that arise. Also acknowledging setbacks and learning from them, and of course celebrating achievements together!

^ Hanna & illustrator Leandro (AKA Lebassis) in NYC this month ^

Your top 3 favourite Podcasts/Books/Films/Albums?

All of Esther Perel’s podcasts and books..closely followed by My name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

^ Images from Esther's blog, 'Letters From Esther'

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?

My grandmother and mother have taught me to “think good and it will be good”. Freeing your mind to focus on the goodness inherent in people and situations is a principle I try my best to live by. The creative industry and producing in general come with their own (sometimes trivial) stresses but if you’re prepared enough and if you adjust your default frames, you will anticipate issues and problem-solve. Positivity breeds positivity. I consider myself lucky to work with artists. Art truly has the power to uplift and to bring people together so I like to remind myself of that often.

What’s your favourite local spot in Tribeca?

Nish Nush restaurant on Reade St and their Sabich pita and Shakshuka because they remind me of home and because food IS love.

If you weren’t a creative agent, what would you be doing?

Most likely a nurse.

Hanna Zakouri

Creative Agent, New York