Paying a fee to get published in an illustration yearbook: worth it?
February 11, 2013 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I am an illustrator and have been recently contacted by the magazine Uppercase, who offered me an opportunity to be part of the third edition of Work/Life, an annual book dedicated to the work of 100 international illustrators. While surely nicely curated and distributed, Uppercase Work/Life asks their applicants to pay a CDN $500 fee to have a two-page spread. Is it worth it?

The email that I got made it look like I had been selected for my illustration skills; reading it more carefully, I understood it was more a discount code for application (a $50 saving).

I've been following the work of Uppercase in the past years and find it interesting. I cannot hide a bit of disappointment at having to pay, but maybe this is normal? Should I pay? Is this worth the exposure? Anybody with similar experience?

Anonymous for fear of being blacklisted by Big Illustration.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
It depends on what kind of illustration you do. If you do book illustration, it is not worth it. If you do editorial and advertising work, it may be worth it.

If you decide to do so (or, I guess, regardless of whether you do so or not), please make sure you have a high-quality, easy to navigate website that show the depth and breadth of your work, your expertise, and your finest pieces.

(Blacklisting by Big Illustration comes from missing deadlines and/or being a pain to work with.)

posted by hmo at 9:23 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm wary of anything that makes me pay to provide them with content. It sounds a lot like the "Who's who of <x> endeavor" marketing gimmick.

This isn't my industry and I am not aware of the publication, however. So your mileage may vary.
posted by rocketpup at 9:37 AM on February 11, 2013

Uppercase is extremely hip. It will probably be worth it for the advertisement.
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:47 AM on February 11, 2013

you are way better off using the $500 to leverage social media marketing of your work. "pay to play" marketing via a book is pretty old school and honestly, at our firm, those books rarely if ever get opened.

Creative directors will look at emails if they are well crafted, and we see plenty of microsites as well showcasing new work, or "the best of"
posted by bobdow at 9:51 AM on February 11, 2013

Data point: in the first year the first Work/Life book was out, I hired two illustrators I found there. Billings from each were in the $3,000 range. I usually commission 6-8 illustrations a year, so not a huge amount, and I don't have a stable of artists at my fingertips.

I will admit it gave me pause when I realized artists had to pay to be in the publication, but because it showcases their work in a way that is appealing to me, I went with them anyway. I don't know what their curatorial process is, but I love Uppercase's publications and trust their aesthetic acumen and being in Work/Life is a kind of endorsement (though tempered somewhat by knowing it's a pay to play publication). Because I work for a Canadian organization, we prefer to hire Canadian artists, if that is a consideration for you.
posted by looli at 2:03 PM on February 11, 2013

(And to clarify, the reason I haven't hired anyone since that first year is that I haven't been doing that job. Otherwise it would certainly be a resource I would turn to.)
posted by looli at 2:04 PM on February 11, 2013

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