Inside the Industry with Kat Irannejad

Kat Irannejad (’97) helps run a top women-owned creative agency. Portraits of Irannejad were created by illustrators Steph Ramplin (left) and Dennis Eriksson, clients of Irannejad’s.

The visual arts have been a big part of Kat Irannejad’s life ever since she was a young girl and discovered she loved to paint. That love of painting set her on a path to her dream role: illustration agent.

After Irannejad (’97) earned her bachelor’s degree in painting at BU and an MFA in painting and art history at Pratt Institute, she worked in arts administration at the Smithsonian American Art Museum before taking on an array of jobs: photo editor at the New York Observer, where she worked with legendary illustrators like Barry Blitt; illustrations editor for a few National Geographic books; and artist rep at a British illustration agency. During that time, she found her true passion: connecting artists with clients to help produce spectacular publications, advertisements, and products.

As an illustration agent, Irannejad calls on the skills she learned in previous jobs, as well as her early experience as a painter: “I found that it has made a difference that clients know I come from a background where I do understand all the references they make. If they say, ‘We’re looking for an artist with a Robert Longo vibe,’ I get it.” In 2013, Irannejad and fellow artist rep Kristina Snyder cofounded the illustration agency SNYDER (formerly Snyder New York).

“It brings me genuine joy finding great talent and pairing them up with the world’s best brands—getting their work in the New York Times, on book covers, seeing their work in airports, in malls, on billboards,” she says. Here, she shares a couple insights she’s learned since starting SNYDER.

Select work by Irannejad’s clients. Courtesy of SNYDER and, from left, Made Up Studio for The Washington Post, Aurelia Durand, and Ben Fearnley

Unapologetically stick to your ethos.

In a largely male-dominated industry, SNYDER is a women-owned agency dedicated to supporting a diverse group of artists.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve built,” Irannejad says. “Representation really matters to us.”

Part of SNYDER’s mission involves doing pro bono work. They have paired artists with campaigns for organizations including When We All Vote,, WaterAid, the Human Rights Campaign, and The Trevor Project.

“We’re very vocal about our politics, and I think that historically has been frowned upon for companies. From our inception, it’s worked in our favor because we just are who we are, and we welcome our artists to be who they are.”

Love what you do.

Irannejad calls herself a late bloomer because it took her many years to find her passion.

“I love a Monday morning. I genuinely love what I do, and I think the artists I work with see that, and the clients do too,” she says. “When people want to buy a product because it has beautiful artwork and packaging created by one of my artists, or if they notice a TV commercial, social media campaign, or mural, and it makes them pause for a second—it brings something that is a reprieve, a visual piece of joy—I think people underestimate the power that has.”


Libby VanderPloeg, one of Irannejad’s clients, created the animation Lift Each Other Up, which went viral shortly after the 2016 election.