On what I like for Shimmer art

An artist just asked me, “Is there anything you’re particularly fond of, any imagery that your magazine leans towards?”

Why, yes! Thank you for asking.

If we start with the belief that one is submitting work that is well-rendered, with an understanding of composition, or, as Beth puts it, art that is not lame, then there are some things that make art stand out for me. In general, I like a sense of movement, texture and story in art. For me, it needs to be communicating something, be that a mood or a moment. I look for an elegance of line and tend to respond well to texture.

Our tagline is “Speculative fiction for a miscreant world.” We do fantasy, science fiction and unclassifiable stories that tend toward funny, dark, strange or all three, so I look for illustrators who will fit with our stories. To quote our art submissions guidelines:

We’re looking for art that complements the stories we publish: speculative, original and compelling. For each issue, we’re looking for one color piece for our cover, and a few black and white or grayscale pieces for the interior. We want art that tells a story and that pushes the boundaries of illustration in the same way speculative fiction pushes boundaries.

A few things to note that will improve your chances:

  • Know where the light source is coming from in your piece.
  • Please use a model or photo reference if you are trying for realism.
  • It is not enough to have a well-rendered figure; figures must be part of a strong composition.

I’m always curious; what do other people look for in art?

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4 Responses

  1. Patrick Swenson

    I’m not an artist, and not even a classically trained design person, but I seem to have a decent enough eye for layout and art. For Talebones: Stuff that’s visually striking. Realistic, but also, sometimes, experimental. Sometimes I need a dark fantasy cover one time over the next, or SF instead of dark fantasy, due to what’s been on the previous couple of covers.