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How to get your artwork published...

Updated on August 8, 2009

John Grisham Illustration for Boom Magazine

John Grisham illustration for BOOM Magazine.
John Grisham illustration for BOOM Magazine.
Step by step process as I worked with the editor of BOOM Magazine
Step by step process as I worked with the editor of BOOM Magazine
Final  Printed Cover
Final Printed Cover
Clark Howard assignment for the month of July 2009
Clark Howard assignment for the month of July 2009

In March of this year I became a government statistic and was let go as a creative business developer after seventeen years in the packaging and point of sale industry. This industry was not my particular passion in life however it paid the bills very well and creatively fueled my fire. The day after I received the news I was like most American's in a total state of shock and panic. Panic turned to creativity and this hub is some common sense advice to out of work artists and illustrators. 

Despite still looking for full-time employment I have been able to better my career and professional portfolio despite the bad economy by doing some freelance work. In 2002 I received a Masters in Illustration from Syracuse and felt this education need not go to waste, especially not now. This article is a how-to- guide for getting your artwork published and a great personal testimonial to inspire many of you that are seeking freelance illustration assignments.

The first step in getting freelance assignments and getting published is to really understand what your passions in life are. Honestly there is a publication for everything you could ever imagine. From money to fishing to death metal music. Whatever your poison you can find it in your local Barnes and Nobles. Even outside your local supermarket is many free publications that sometimes require illustrations on the cover and for inside spots.

The next step is to understand that a unique style sells. This is another hub I would need to write about however articles abound for you on the web if you do not understand what I mean. Basically in a nutshell people have to be able to view your work and associate it to you. Examples: Anita Kunz, CF Payne and Bart Forbes.

Third you need a fairly good body of work. A body of work is usually 8 -10 examples of your signature style on a website or in attachable PDF formats. A body of work for young artists is often a challenge because in art school you are asked to do many different assignments in many different styles. So take it from me if you do not have a style by your final semester you might consider figuring it out fast. Competition is stiff. Reasons are many but most importantly with only one or two pieces to view art directors do not know if your one great piece your promoting happened to be a fluke. This is also another hub I will discuss in the future.

Fourth go to Barnes and Nobles and look at the magazine section and find all publications that have illustrations on the cover and inside that you are interested in. Prepare to take quit a bit of time, because the amount of magazines is exhaustive. Next look on the inside of the publication and write down the art directors name, e-mail address and also write down the editor and his e-mail. Get any other information you can, phone number and also web addresses. You can also do like I did and check out the free rags in front of grocery stores and C-Stores. SIMPLY PUT WRITE AND START SUBMITTING YOUR WORK TO THESE PUBLICATIONS... IT IS A NUMBERS GAME.  Use a website or e-mail samples thru PDF's.

Example: My wife found a magazine called BOOM in February 09 in front of a local Harris Tetter supermarket. On the cover was a great whimsical illustration of Robin Williams and she grabbed it and brought it to me. I followed my own advise listed above and placed a call directly to the editor of the magazine and asked him if I could send some samples of my work and if he would view my website. The editor indicated that every month a baby boomer celebrity was featured in a interview and on the cover.  A week later I was sent a message asking if I was interested in painting a cover for them. To my surprise it was an illustration of New York Times best selling author John Grisham. (Shown in illustrations)

Since doing this I was asked by this same magazine to do another cover depicting Clark Howard in July. Bottom line I was given two covers to do in three months. Very unusual these days. They must have really liked me. However my talent, portfolio  and skill turned this into a reality aggressive marketing of myself was the trick. Despite not being paid a ton of money for the artwork I negotiated over $800.00 worth of free advertisement for my website from BOOM and a personal plug from the editor in the editors note. 52,000 copies were printed and 120,000 readers in NC saw this publication.



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    • FrancoRaimundo profile image

      Raimundo G Franco 5 years ago from American Midwest

      Do you find that most of your clients have established rates that they suggest & abide by?... Or, how much negotiation is to be expected?... I'm trying to understand some sense of going rates, how to bid reasonably as a relative newbie.

    • Michelle Callis profile image

      Michelle Callis 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing your trials...this particular story is so common to mankind right now. Everyone knows someone that has experienced job loss during this particular economic era if they haven't had it hit their own personal household. You've set a wonderful example of how to turn things to the positive and simply use what you still have for the good of others... The Bible says, "Seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be added to you." You started with the intent to share wise advise from your wealth of art knowledge and ended up reaping the rewards of what you were sowing! Now that's just cool!

    • profile image

      artistwriter 8 years ago

      Very good topic - freelancing and being an artist besides make it a great challenge for all of us. I too was eliminated from the work force and had no choice but to freelance and promote my website. I also use affilation to give an extra "buck" here and there.

      But the most amazing part of being an artist and freelancing is that you run into other artist with their own styles and tips. I'm always for constanting learning new techniques and tricks.

      Thanks for the great article.


    • profile image

      Linda 8 years ago

      Read this and totally agree with you. Now you just need to get out there and DO what you talked about to me on the phone about this article. Go out and Sell yourself. Mom

    • profile image

      Terry 8 years ago

      During most of my 14-year employed life, and up to now, I've maintained a freelance business--even if on a part-time basis. Particularly in these times, any employed artist would do well to try and build some freelance income as well.

      When you're working a day job, freelancing's a good source of extra cash; and when/if you become unemployed--as we both have--freelancing is a good vocation to "fall back on" and help thru the lean times.

      Thanks for this great advice for new freelancers on how to get into the game...

    • Carol 126 profile image

      Carol 126 8 years ago

      You do beautiful work Kenny and i always enjoy seeing what your working on, i know you have great things in your future & i will be keeping up with your success on here & face book, You have inspired me, i have no talent in the art related field but have been encouraged to write a book so who knows................keep up the fantastic work!