Be Smart about Art

Why is your choice of art important?
As much as the world advises against it, people will judge a book by its cover—and it’s just as likely that they’re judging your association’s magazine by its art. Art is a vital element in any magazine; it initiates the connection between content and reader. Attention grabbing art can help maintain a reading pattern throughout an article, department, and the magazine as a whole.

Sending the right message
With art playing such a prominent role in your association’s magazine, you may have concerns about your designer choosing art that misses the mark. After all, you’re the expert in your industry, and you know what message you’re trying to communicate. So before you begin, consider asking your designer if you can develop contact sheets with options ahead of time. In addition to giving you more control over the message being sent, providing your designer with options also decreases design time and eliminates the risk of your designer spending hours redoing an entire layout if art needs to be changed, saving time and money.

When it comes to choosing art for your publication, you can go with custom artwork or stock photos.

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Custom Artwork
Custom artwork is the most precise representation of your copy because you can personally direct the visual content to reflect your message. But it’s also one of the priciest ways to go. If you’re set on having custom artwork but don’t have room in your budget, consider reaching out to a photography organization or an art college to inquire about student and entry-level candidates. While their experience might be minimal, they’re likely bursting with untapped talent and the desire to grow their portfolio—and subsequently, they’ll be available at a lower cost. Make sure to begin work on the art months in advance to provide time for changes during the complex artistic process.

Royalty Free Stock Art
Stock art offers lower pricing than custom work, and is readily available. Using stock art is a great, budget-friendly option for associations. However, keep in mind that customization of stock art can be tricky and costly. Any alterations will have to be reviewed by your designer for capability and price. We’ve seen cases where a client selected a small-fee photo for a cover, but then requested alterations that required hours of complex Photoshop work. Designers are happy to make these changes, but remember: the work done to alter photos typically doesn’t come free. Make sure to review how your designer charges for stock art and modification.

Regardless of your choice to go with custom or stock photography, set an art budget and ensure your magazine budget can support it. Keeping this advice in mind, you’re sure to find the perfect art that fits your vision and your budget.