We sat down with Skye to delve into her journey of championing independent artists, inspiring authentic collaborations with iconic brands like Vans, curating community events and her top advice for artists looking to land management. Read on to discover more.

Hi Skye, you are the Founder of The SVKB Group which includes Roar Illustration Agency and Skye Victoria Projects, can you tell us a little bit about what you do? 

I started The SVKB group in 2023 as a home for the two companies that I work within, Roar (started in 2018) is the artist management company, where we work with the most talented artists in the world on creative projects across print, web, design, in person projects with clients like The New York Times, The New Yorker, Nike, Vans, Sky TV, Adidas, League of Legends, Fabric, GQ, Pepsico, to name just a few! Skye Victoria Projects (2019) is our events, activations, and art direction company, this is where I have a bit more room to flex my creative brain a little! We work with companies to make magic happen, be that on site with set design, logistics and project management, or finding the perfect artist for an epic project like a mural or live art session.

What’s your background and how did you get started?

I studied Art History at Kingston University and have a Masters in Visual Culture and Museum Design from Westminster University and my focus in life was always to become a curator or gallery manager, but as the years went on I realised I wasn’t really working within the industry or with artists that I really loved and wanted to champion, so I started a small side-business producing limited edition, artist led screen screen-prints, which then grew into an arts business selling original art, producing art and running exhibitions and events, which in turn led me into the world I am in now!

What was your motivation to start the business? Was there a gap in the market? 

A few years into running my previous company selling art, I came to realise that one of the main things I was doing within my position was mentoring and project management with some of the artists I was working with, and so I thought that it would be a great place to try and focus my experience and expertise within. Roar came first, followed later by Skye Victoria Projects (SVP).

Roar started as a place to showcase and champion artists that I personally loved, and whose work is not always shown and appreciated within the commercial world. We have an incredible roster of artists who continually push creative boundaries with their talent and uniqueness.

SVP came about after I had been running Roar for a while, and I realised that I needed something to run projects that were not agency based or connected (as I was still working as a consultant still), and that side of the business really started to grow when we joined partnership with Vans UK, helping to programme events, manage activations, and commission artwork for projects. 

What kind of artists do you represent and what are the biggest areas of opportunity? 

We represent all types of artists who work across all types of mediums; illustration, fine art, animation, product and branding design, mural and street! For us, it’s more about who the artist is creatively, what their story is as an artist and how we think we can work with them in a commercial context. It’s our job to show our clients that it’s worth taking a risk and hiring our artists as the end product will always be mega.

We are seeing a huge increase in artists being championed in more in-person events and public facing commissions like: live drawing, customisations, murals which is always super exciting for us because it means the public get to see behind the scenes at just how much goes into the work.

Have you noticed any shifts in the types of opportunities coming through over the last year or so? Are there any that people would find surprising?

I think there has been a much larger uptake in using named-artists for the commercial world, for campaigns and brand storytelling.

Once a brand might have played it safe and just gone with something more “boring” but over the past few years we have seen more artist-led artwork used in place of that, which always makes the end-product more impactful and memorable (in my opinion). Our favourites have been the murals, animated projects and seeing our artists work in a brand-new context other than just on paper. 

Ari Liloan, XBOX Pride Artwork - represented by Roar

We’ve worked together for a while now, collaborating on some really cool projects for Vans. Would you say there is an added benefit for consumers and brands when a brand like Vans, for example, collaborates with independent artists rather than doing the work in-house? 

Customers are clever, they understand when a brand is being true and trying to connect to the public in an honest way, and often that can be understood and felt by collaborations; when a brand works with an artist, or a grassroots organisation it brings an authenticity to the overall project that we believe is important. 

Sometimes an in-house collaboration might not have the same feeling, or heart (although we also work with a lot of creative agencies who commission illustrators or have amazing in-house designs so absolutely no disrespect because that can be just as awesome!) in a way that bringing in a specific artist might do.

I think it also gives the story a new way of being shown and understood and gives an artist an opportunity they wouldn’t usually have – It was so amazing to know that Hannah Bonn the artists we worked with at Christmas 2022 took a trip across ALL the London stores with her family to see all the installations, and it’s that kind of connection that you can’t fake. 

We have worked with Vans and in turn alongside ISIN for almost 4 years now and we are always so excited when we see ISIN bring the ideas to life, and as a team we are all working to keep pushing the brand values and champion those creatives who have grown up with Vans.

We’ve seen the power of community events and the benefits that they bring for brands including things like strengthened consumer connection and a platform for giving back to customers. From your perspective, what are the overarching objectives of events like this?

Absolutely all the above! When a project comes in with Vans, our first thought is how it connects back to the consumer, the locals, the people who we are trying to speak to. 

When it comes to workshops, we always work hard to make sure that they are free and open to all, and that when someone attends, they experience something they wouldn’t be able to in a normal day, and maybe come away with a new way of thinking, a new talent, or perhaps a little doodle by their favourite artist on a piece of clothing or shoes. 

We do this by working with artists who are relevant to the project that we are doing so that it genuinely reflects back to the community that we are representing and championing within the event/activation, this opens up space for different voices, in the hope that this will also open up what we do to new audiences. 

And finally, what advice would you give to artists that are building their career/portfolio?

Be true to yourself, try hard not to compare yourself or your work to others, remember that the internet is a place of smoke and mirrors and the only person you should be focussing on is yourself. When we work with new artists the first thing I think is “is this person creating work true to them, or are they trying to be what’s cool right now” – We can always tell, a true and strong voice speaks louder than Instagram numbers. 

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