How To See Yourself In Print

At the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) convention earlier this month, I was part of a two-person panel “How To See Yourself in Print.” Assuming those in attendance wanted to get published on the merit of their artwork (not for reasons that might land them a page in The National Enquirer), I discussed submission procedures for The Pastel Journal and offered some insight into the selection process. I talked with a number of enthusiastic artists that afternoon, and I thought this might be a good venue to recap the six tips I shared there.

Of course the selection process all starts with good art–pastel painting that demonstrates skilled handling of the medium, dynamic composition, artistic expression, etc. That being said, if an artist submits work that I have to turn down, I think it’s important for all to know that it isn’t always a matter of quality. The first thing to understand is that the magazine is published only six times a year. Each issue features approximately six artists (not counting columns and departments), and– since the April issue is entirely devoted to the winners of The Pastel 100 competition–that means we’re planning and publishing about 30 artist features in a year. Considering that there were at least 600 attendees at IAPS, that we receive close to 4,000 entries into our pastel competition every year, and that we have many more magazine subscribers, you get an idea of the number of active pastel artists there are. But rather than be discouraged by the odds, read on, because I hope these tips will increase the chances that your submission is one that gets in print!

Tip #1–Put Your Art In Front of Us
For many artists, probably the number one reason their work hasn’t appeared in the magazine is that they’ve never submitted their work for consideration. Yes, we scour the globe to find pastel artists doing extraordinary work, but I wouldn’t sit back waiting for us to find you. If you send us a submission package on your own, your chances of at least being considered for publication are 100%. So, even though the odds for publication may not be high, they’re much higher for those who send work than for those who don’t! To learn how and where to send your submission and to whom, check out our submission guidelines.

Tip #2—Tell Us the Story
Along with examples of your art, your submission package should include a letter of introduction. Tell me your bio (how long you’ve been painting, your art education, do you have a Web site, etc.) and then explain in brief what you think the article would be about. For example, we see a lot of landscape art. If your work is primarily landscape, how would your story be unique or inspiring to readers? Is it a special focus on buildings in the landscape or snow in the landscape? Do you have a unique approach to finding a scene? Do you have to go rock-climbing to get to your plein air location?!

Tip #3–Submit Article Ideas for our Columns
For most articles, one of The Pastel Journal editors (or one of our contributing writers) interviews the selected artist and writes the feature. But we also publish columns and features that are written by artists and offer how-to instruction or professional business tips. If you’re a decent writer–maybe practiced at providing instruction because you teach–you’re in an ideal position to propose such an article. To query us, send us a letter that outlines your idea, and–if appropriate to the topic–include examples of your artwork. Also, let us know what other kinds of art/illustration you imagine providing: a step-by-step demo, a chart, a preliminary study, etc.

Tip #4–Pay Attention to What is in the Magazine
It helps to have an awareness of the kinds of things we publish. Sometimes we get pitches for articles that might find a place in other magazines, but definitely not ours. We always appreciate proposals that demonstrate an understanding of our editorial needs and practices. Also, it’s good to know what we’ve recently published so you can avoid a repetitive idea.

Tip #–Create a Web Site
Think of your Web site as your online portfolio, allowing not only potential clients but also editors the opportunity to browse your work. I mentioned that I scour the globe to find great artists. Well, one place I’m definitely scouring is the Web. For example, let’s say that I admire an award-winning painting in an exhibition catalog or press release, but I’m otherwise unfamiliar with the artist, I’m unlikely to plan a feature on that artist based on a single painting. But, if I can go to the Internet and find a Web site that shows more of his or her work, that may be all that’s necessary to initiate an article.

Tip #6–Enter the Pastel 100
Winning an honorable mention in the Pastel 100 competition may not win an artist any prize money, but it does get your winning artwork published in the magazine, and it brings your name and your work under the eyes of our editors. We very often go back to honorable mention winners for features in the magazine later on, so consider entering the competition.

A final note about our review process: When we receive a submission, we send a postcard to let you know that we received it, but—because we have a query review only about every other month–you can generally expect a good wait to find out whether we plan to pursue an article. Also, although the best etiquette is to query one publication at a time, if you do send out multiple submissions during this time, just be sure to let each editor know that you have done so. And certainly, if you land an article with another publisher, you have an obligation to inform any other editors who’re considering your work of that development.

If you have always wanted to see if you could get your art featured in the magazine but just needed a bit of a push, consider yourself nudged.

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3 thoughts on “How To See Yourself In Print

  1. Deborah Secor

    Anne, great advice, of course!

    If you don’t mind I’d also like to add that normally I’m assigned articles. Many people assume that I write things and submit them to you for consideration, so they call me or send slides/CDs to my home, mistakenly thinking I have some ‘pull’ with the editors. The fact is, I always recommend they go through the editorial process. I encourage them to send slides along to you, and try to explain what you’ve said so well above–so now I can simply refer them to this page for advice. (Thanks!)

    One thing I’ll reiterate is that if you don’t submit work for consideration the answer is always NO! It’s worth risking rejection to chance acceptance, and even if you are rejected you’ll probably learn something from it so that the next time you try you have a better chance of being accepted. Many artists are their own harshest critics–so give it a go!