Tips and Resources on Art Submissions

If you read my article on How to Build an Art Portfolio, and you already have your shiny, clean and organized portfolio in hand, you might be wondering what to do next. 

Since you’re on Dream Foundry, I’ll assume you’re an artist who’s interested in illustrating books or short stories. And since I’m an art director for a short story magazine and have experience in comics, my focus here will be on how to get started as building illustrator, and, potentially, comics, since both medias are focused on art with storytelling.



Together with your portfolio, you will need a payment option: most hiring magazines can pay in cheque, but if you’re not based in the United States, it’s important to have a PayPal account, since it’s the most popular payment method for illustrators worldwide.

I also recommend having a separate email for art-related business, and linking said email to your PayPal account.


Places to Submit

Paper Cat Press is your new best friend. Paper Cat Press is a weekly curated collection of opportunities for illustrators, comic creators, and even writers, run by fellow comic artist and illustrator Leanna C. Most of my first gigs were found through their weekly round up, neatly organized in categories like Awards and Contests, Animation, Comic & Illustration opportunities, all with their respective deadlines. 

If you’re focused on comics, another great resource is Comic Oportunities, run by S.W. Searle, and Find Anthologies!, run by Stephanie Cooke. Both of them are curated lists on Twitter of comic anthologies. Cooke also maintains Creators Resources, a website providing tools and resources for comic book freelancers.


Twitter Art Events

As an art director, I use Twitter a lot to find artists that might fit a specific story or thematic issue, and I use it by browsing specific hashtag-based events. The broadest of those is #PortfolioDay, an event that happens every three months, and where artists can link their email and portfolio and share a sample of four illustrations, in hopes of landing potential freelance work.

There are also specific hashtag events, like #DrawingWhileBlack for Black creators, #ArtMubarak for Muslim creators, #VisibleWomen for woman artists, and so on. 

Those events are like easily-searchable mini-portfolios, so choose your strongest four pieces, and run some tests to see how to properly crop those images, as Twitter’s automatic crop can be rather unkind at times.

After you’re done, you can pin that tweet in your profile, like I did


Submission etiquette

A lot of the opportunities you’ll find in curated collections like Paper Cat Press involve submitting a pitch through a form, which means filling a quick questionnaire with your information and idea. They usually things ask for your social media handles, portfolio and/or art samples, email and other professional information, but it’s also common for those questionnaires to ask for a mini bio, so I suggest having a bio of 65-75 words in length about who you are, what’s your experience as an artist, etc. In submissions, those mini bios are usually in first-person, but it’s useful to have a third-person mini bio at hand, too (those are often asked after you’re accepted, which is the fun part).

Others, like magazines—including Strange Horizons, where I work as art director—tend to accept submissions through e-mail. Keep those e-mails short, with a brief greeting and first-person bio, and a link to your portfolio. Don’t send any attachments—links are always preferred. And, of course, pay attention to the guidelines! It’s polite, and you will already be ahead of many other submissions if you do. 

The magazine will contact you back if they’re interested. If they don’t, I’d wait at least a year or so to contact them again with an updated portfolio or such.


Submitting art files

If you’re accepted by, say, a print magazine, your artwork needs to be in the right format: 300dpi is the minimum for printing, CMYK, and preferably in single-layer .tif format. 

For online magazines, RGB is preferred. The sizes vary, but work big, since resizing down is easier.


Finding an Art Agent

Like writers, artists can have an agent to represent their work. Agents work as the middle-men between the creator and an eventual publisher, handling contract negotiation and payments. They receive a percentage of what you get with each work, but you never pay them.

If you’re interested in working with picture books, art books and graphic novels, you need a literary agent. If you just want to work with art, you can find an artist representative. 

Artist representatives will find art assignments for you, that range from newspaper and magazine work to books, and usually work in the same way as a literary agent—they only get paid when you get paid.

An excellent resource for art representation is Agent for Illustrators, that lists literary agents representing art, and provides several guides, like how to query.


With all that being said, you’re ready to go. Good luck!

Dante Luiz

Dante Luiz (@dntlz on Twitter) is an illustrator, art director for Strange Horizons, and occasional writer from southern Brazil. He is the interior artist for Crema (comiXology/Dark Horse), and his writing was published by Constelación Magazine, Professor Charlatan Bardot's Travel Anthology and in Portuguese by Mafagafo Revista, among others. You can see more of his work on his website.