How to Find Names for Your Mailing List


When you start out as a freelance illustrator, the first thing you have to do is get your name out and make sure your work is getting in front of the right art directors, editors, and designers out there. But how do you find them and which ones do you send your samples, postcards, and proposals to? Here are various ways that I’ve used to gather names for my own mailing list…

  1. Market Books

    Every year, Writer’s Digest releases a book called the Artists & Graphic Designers Market. It lists the contact info for many different companies looking for illustrators in a variety of markets, like magazines, fine art galleries, book publishers, etc. There is a completely separate book especially for children’s illustrators too, called the Childrens Writers & Illustrators Market. I’ve found these books EXTREMELY useful – because they not only list names and addresses, but also specific guidelines and needs of each company.

    Update: Erika, the editor of the Artist’s Market books, has just let me know that there is a website ( and blog ( available for these books. Be sure to take a look.

  2. Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

    This is only helpful for you fellow children’s illustrators out there. SCBWI keeps its own list of children’s illustration clients, which you can gain access to by paying a fee and joining the organization. It is highly worth it, I think. The list alone is great, plus you get the other benefits as well, such as conference discounts. Which leads to my next resource…

  3. Conferences

    Conferences are often attended by art directors, editors, and other industry people. It is a great opportunity to meet them, learn about their companies, and get their contact info. Also, many publishers keep their eye on such industry events and will often leave brochures, catalogs, handouts, guidelines, and contact information for the attendees.

  4. Networking

    A friend of a friend of a friend. I’ve received several names from fellow artists and got a few jobs as a result.

  5. Clients

    Once you’ve worked with someone, automatically add them to your mailing list. Try to keep in touch with them and don’t let them fall by the wayside. When you start to do regular work, returning clients will be your bread and butter.

  6. Other Research

    Always be on the lookout for new opportunities. If you see someone using the kind of illustration work that you want to do – seek it out. Start checking out credits on books and the mastheads of magazines. Many times, you’ll be able to find the name of the art director, editor, or designer. And many publishers’ contact info will be listed there as well, or can be found easily on their website. The most important thing is, if you see a need, make sure to let them know you exist.

A Few More Guidelines

  • Always follow whatever guidelines the publisher has available. They are usually listed specifically in the market books, or on their website. If you can’t find any, you should almost ALWAYS do the following:

    • NEVER send original artwork. Use nice reproductions, prints, or copies.

    • Don’t send slides or digital CD’s unless the publisher specifically says it is okay.

    • Keep your submission simple – nothing bulky or oddly shaped. And make sure it can fit in a file cabinet, no bigger than 8 1/2″ x 11″.

    • Always make sure your contact info is clear.

  • Send your samples only to people who are relevant to your type of work. Don’t simply copy every name out of the market book and send out a postcard to all of them, hoping someone will take the bait. If you take the time to sort through your names, you will save their time and your money.

  • Whatever your marketing plan is, be consistent. Even if you collect tons of names and carefully sort through each one, your first mailing might not produce a lot of work. That doesn’t necessarily mean your work doesn’t have merit. One simple postcard will not capture the attention you need. It takes regular, consistent mailings to make your name and work more recognizable. With persistence and time, you are sure to be rewarded.

I would love to hear your thoughts and questions. Leave a comment on this post at