Why Mailed Art Submissions Just Don't Work

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Why Mailed Art Submissions Just Don't Work
Lance Klass

Before the rise of the internet, if an artist wanted to submit artwork to a publisher, agent or manufacturer, the artist either had to do it personally in a face-to-face meeting or else send the art submission through the mail. Back then, artists were told that mailed submissions had to have a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) inside to make sure the recipient was able easily to return your submission. That lead artists to assume that they could expect to receive a response – positive or negative – to their mailed submission. The sad fact is that more often than not, they never heard anything at all.

Many large companies used to have lower-level employees on staff whose job it was to receive, open, cull through, and either pass along or file art submissions as they came in. And companies might receive literally hundreds of such art submissions each and every month. I receive an average of three a day, every single day of the year. Do the math, and that’s just over a thousand art submissions a year.

Once artists and business really took to the internet, the number of mailed submissions tended to drop off, yet they’re still a significant proportion of the total art submissions received by art licensing agencies, as well as companies that manufacture products for sale at retail. But mailed submissions really don’t work anymore, and I’ll tell you why.

1 – Manufacturers are devoting less time and fewer personnel to handling mailed submissions. Staff who once had the job of processing new art submissions have either been laid off or reassigned to other jobs, and time is at a premium. Responding to your submission, repackaging it, sealing it, and getting it through outgoing mail can be quite time-consuming. No wonder many companies consider them a nuisance.

2 – Partly as a result of this, it’s increasingly likely that even with a SASE enclosed in your mailed package, you’ll never receive your materials back and will probably get no response at all. Why? In this tight market, time equals money, and many companies don’t have the staff or the time to devote to processing mailed submissions. A quick look is the most you’re going to get, and if the artwork – not the presentation, however elaborate you make it, but the artwork itself – isn’t what the company is seeking, the package and it’s contents often go right in the trash.

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