Category Archives: Art

From Slushpile To Art


Are you an artist hopingto be commissioned to illustrate for a magazine? Read on…

I answer inquiries for Andromeda Spaceways – both general ones and art inquiries, and also arrange with artists for them to illustrate stories and do our covers. It’s a fascinating job.You get all sorts of inquiries, from oh-so-professional freelancers who inform you that they can spare some time in November to do a cover for your publication to those who have no idea what you do publish because, like some of the writing students, they haven’t checked out the web site except the contact bit, let alone read the magazine.

Mostly, of course, we get fabulous artists whose work I look at and think, “Oh, my god, has she checked out our rates? Does she realise how little we can pay her for a LOT of work?” And mostly, they assure me that yes, they’ve checked and the small payment is fine. Those are the ones who love spec fic and think this would be a nice thing to do as long as they don’t have a commission from someone who can actually help them pay their bills. Occasionally they haven’t checked and have to withdraw their submission.

Then there are those who have looked at the web site and still don’t seem to get that we publish science fiction, who send a sample that would be fine for an advertising campaign but has no connection with what we publish. I ask them politely if they have something more appropriate and rarely hear from them again.

I don’t blame them for trying. You have to check out any market you can when you’re trying to make a living. But a quick look at our web site ought to convince most graphic designers who do advertising that this really isn’t the market for them and save them a disappointing reply from me.

To be fair, one young woman who lived in Melbourne and wasn’t actually a science fiction fan, just an artist looking for a market, did take the trouble to go to Collected Works Bookshop, ASIM’s Melbourne over-the-counter outlet and buy up the back issues to study her market. She never got back to me, but she at least had a go.

How do I know, apart from the samples (they don’t always send one with their inquiry) that they haven’t checked? Well, there are the ones who send you what’s clearly a standard inquiry, e.g. “As a book publisher, you must…”, “I’ve been impressed by your catalogue of books…” If you’re going to send a standard inquiry, at least don’t try to pretend it’s personalised. When I have to send a group email, I say so, and apologise – and assure the readers that if they’re on my list it’s because I have checked their site and thought it appropriate. I’ve taken to deleting standard inquiries that clearly haven’t checked their market.

Thank heaven this is a minority! And thank heaven for the first-class artists who do work with us!