How to get your artwork published...
John Grisham Illustration for Boom Magazine
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.
NOTE: MOST IMPORTANT I HAVE TWO MORE GREAT PIECES FOR MY PORTFOLIO TO SEND TO BIGGER PUBLICATIONS THAT PAY MORE MONEY.