As well as being a beautiful product in it’s own right, an art book can be an excellent way for you to gain recognition and promote your work to collectors.
There are a few small publishers who accept submissions for art books, but the submission process doesn’t guarantee publication and even when you get a contract, the publishing process is slow—often it takes a year or more before there’s a finished copy of your book.
Research and get inspired
Before you get started, look through some other art books to get an idea of the style you want for your own. You could visit the art section at your local library, browse through books at your nearest gallery, or talk to other artists who have made art books. Pay particular attention to subject matter, flow, layout, quality, balance of written and visual content, etc.
It’s also worthwhile talking about with a professional from a museum or art library. They will be able to give you valuable insights into the structure and presentation of high quality art books.
Find a quality publisher
Choosing your publisher is vital to the success of your book—your art book needs to be printed on top quality paper with inks that capture the right colors and textures of your work. Beautiful art on low-quality paper won’t catch anyone’s attention.
Talk to other artists you know and see if they can recommend a good company. You can also read reviews of many of the larger print-on-demand companies online. Compare prices and packages and choose one that works for you.
Before you commit, ask plenty of questions and be certain you know exactly what you get for the price. Don’t ever go with a company who does not allow you to see some kind of sample.
Choose only your best artwork
It should go without saying that you want your art book to be a shining example of the kind of work you do. That means only choosing your best pieces to include—the pieces that most accurately represent you as an artist.
Try to avoid showing works that are more than a year or two old, since the market is keen to see new pieces. Only include previous works if they’ve been recognized in some way, by winning awards or being part of an exclusive juried show, for example.
Once you’ve selected the work to include, focus on the text. You’ll want to include a one or two page biography / artist’s statement, and a list of your exhibitions and related works. This shows collectors that you’re continually producing. For each illustration, include title, dimensions, medium, date of completion and its location, if it is on display or in a private collection.
Avoid adding long descriptions to the pages; instead, let your art speak for itself.
Carefully plan your layout (or hire a designer)
Spend a lot of time laying out your pages and choosing a logical order for pieces. You don’t want to crowd pieces, so leave plenty of white space for breathing room, and keep text small and unobtrusive.
After you’ve finished a draft of the layout, have an artistic friend check it over, and ask several friends to proofread the text for you. Unless you’ve paid for this service, your print-on-demand publisher won’t do it for you, so it’s of the utmost importance that no spelling errors make it through to the final print version.
Soon you’ll be getting your first shipment of art books in the mail, and have a beautiful, high quality catalogue of your work to show potential collectors.