There’s a magazine out there for every hobby, industry and subject matter imaginable. There are magazines about diabetes, magazines about model trains, even magazines about the business of being a florist. And, of course, there are art & culture magazines.
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We all read them—especially those glossy periodicals of smiling artists showing off their studios and talking about their latest projects, tips for beginners on brush strokes and kiln firing, esoteric discussions about the nature of art with more 5 syllable words than a medical textbook.
We love it. We dream one day of being able to appear in their pages.
But. . . how do art magazines choose which artist to feature?
I’ll give you a clue: they are not frantically surfing the Internet, desperately looking for prospective artists to make famous in their pages. They are getting submissions from artists—sometimes hundreds a day—putting their work forward to be accepted.
And from those hundreds of submissions, they are pulling out the ones that make their job easiest—those submissions from artists who are already a “little bit” famous, who’ve got a track record of exhibitions and events and clients, and—most importantly—have a story that’s more interesting than, “this is me and here’s what I create.”
To submit your work for consideration by an art magazine, you’re going to need to demonstrate that you are both an interesting subject AND relevant to the readership. You do this through your portfolio, press kit, and cover letter.
Choose several pieces of your art that you feel best demonstrate your style, and put these into a PDF document, or print them out on nice, thick paper, or upload them to a portfolio website you can link to.
If you’re pitching a particular story in your press release/cover letter, you will want to choose only pieces that represent this story.
Your press kit basically explains why your art is relevant. In it, you should list any art shows you’ve appeared in, galleries where your work is shown, selected clients, and any previous media appearances. The magazine wants to see an artist who is serious and who is known within their discipline.
Your press kit might also contain a press release which tells a newsworthy story about your recent work. a photo, and an artist statement.
When writing to a magazine, it’s not JUST about pitching them your artwork—you also want to demonstrate that you would be a good story for their readers. That means explaining your artwork within an interesting context, or as part of the wider arc of a story.
Perhaps you paint landscapes representing the degeneration of the natural world, and donate some of the money to local environmental projects. Perhaps you are creating sculptures for multi-million-dollar companies, yet they are sculptures made of objects you found in their dumpsters.
Make your story the most important aspect about your letter—you have to sell it to the magazine as something their readers might be interested in. But don’t give away all the details! Entice the editors to contact you for more information.
Give all the relevant details, of course, including contact details of where you can be reached. Make sure to add the editors name (very important!) and send off by post or email.
You should also be able to find a page on the magazine’s website called “submission guidelines” that tells you what they prefer. Don’t send attachments through email unless they’re asked for—just copy/paste text into the email instead.
You may not get featured the very first time, but don’t let that stop you from sending off a submission every time you have a new, interesting story about your work. You never know when you might get the right editor on the right day.