Instructions for Getting Noticed in the Art World

Articles & Interviews; Success Stories:
Patience, Flexibility and Perseverance Pay by Donya Dickerson

Troy Boyle
Yes. It’s a word all artists long to hear. And for Troy Boyle, his first “yes” was truly unforgettable. “An artist’s fist published sale brings with it a huge sense of validation,” he says. “For me, it was akin to having the outside world say, ‘Yes, you are an artist!’” So what were the steps this comic artist and fine painter took to achieve this initial thrill of success?

Click to Purchse 2015 Artist's & Graphic Designer's Market!Boyle started by searching markets in Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market (AGDM), specifically for publishers who had a need for editorial cartoons. “I can’t remember not knowing about AGDM,” he says. “In both high school and college, we were taught that this is an indispensable reference for anyone pursuing a creative career. I remember it was an exhaustive process. For each magazine and art director that I wanted to contact, I had to follow their submission guidelines exactly. Luckily, the proper contacts for discovering those guidelines are included in AGDM.”

To be taken seriously by any market, Boyle emphasizes the importance of paying close attention to its specific needs. “You MUST follow the submission guidelines (including house style, media, content, delivery mechanism) published by the market you are attempting to enter,” he says. “Nothing will stop your career faster than arrogantly sending you artwork in the manner you’re comfortable with, or that which is most convenient for you, rather than what the publisher or art director has specified.”

The responses to Boyle’s initial mailing started coming back almost immediately. “I first began hearing back from my original submissions about three weeks after I sent out a flurry of solicitation,” he says. “Honestly, most of them were rejections.” And while the news wasn’t always good, Boyle also made his first two sales, which quickly became sources of inspiration for him as he thought about sending out more work. “One was from the local chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women. They had accepted two of my editorial cartoons! It was my first published sale. I must have hoarded a couple dozen of the newsletters, and periodically I’d look at the cartoon on the front with my signature on it and just could not believe it was real.”

Sinclogo_headere those first assignments, Boyle’s career has continued to flourish, and his illustrations have been published “in just about every arena you can name—magazines, newspapers, online publications, comic books, the recording industry, signs and logotypes,” he says. Along the way, he’s had some truly interesting opportunities. One that really stands out was being commissioned to paint “a one-hundred-foot-long glowing, fluorescent mural in a downtown nightclub.” He believes that being flexible and willing to work with divers styles is the key to developing long-term relationships with markets. “Once you’ve established a track record and a comfort level, you will find that you an submit illustration to almost any magazine, in any genre. It helps to be chameleonic.”

These days, Boyle focuses his efforts on his real passion: comic books. “I am of the ‘realist’ school of comic art, first established by professionals such as Alex Raymond and Neal Adams. Although the faces and emotional content can be iconic, the treatment of anatomy, clothing, perspective, and especially shadowing, is very real.” Being specialized has allowed Boyle to thrive in this extremely competitive marketplace. “It’s been a busy year for me,” he says. “I have several titles coming out that I’m quite proud of, including a short piece in Desperado Publishing’s Negative Burn.”

Boyle recognizes what it means to succeed in this difficult market. “Every year there are literally thousands of young kids trying to break into the business, but only a handful of real openings,” he says. For any comic artist who wants to rise above the competition, he recommends making learning your craft a life-long pursuit. “Do not take shortcuts. Take the time to master anatomy, perspective, textures, light sourcing, and rotating a body in space. If you can’t draw an object from every single angle, with any imaginable light source, accurately and convincingly, then you need more training. In fact, an artist’s learning curve is never completed. You should be learning and striving to improve [throughout] your entire life. Even the masters—Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Michelangelo—were consumed by this idea of discovery and learning. The proof of that statement is apparent in the way that their output continually changed and evolved.”

Finally, Boyle says, “Don’t get discouraged. If you have talent and perseverance, you will succeed. I know that sounds like an empty platitude, but believe me, it’s true. Having a career with longevity involves being adaptable enough to change with the times and being persistent enough to keep trying, regardless of how much resistance you encounter.”



2014 Artist's & Graphic Designer's MarketIf you enjoyed this interview, then check out these other freelance artist interviews on Artist’s Market Online and discover more instructions on how to get your art noticed:

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