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Finding Artists

by Amber Yoder

Even when the economy slows down, the demand for original content doesn’t. But sometimes live action production and photography aren’t feasible.

One way savvy communicators can adapt is by expanding the tools in our storytelling arsenal. Whether your project is an annual report or a social media campaign – original artwork can take you to a whole new level.

Why work with artists?

  • Unique, vibrant content – Commissioned artwork can bring a sophistication to your communications that stock imagery just can’t provide.

  • Cultural relevance – Art is a reflection of our culture. It’s fresh. It’s relevant. It’s…cool. By tapping into artists, you borrow their shine for your own messaging.

  • Art can happen anywhere – Artists who draw, paint, or design can work from anywhere in the world. Things like quarantines, time zones, or national boundaries don’t matter.

Do we have you sold? Great. Here’s how to get started.

Build your storytelling strategy

Working with artists can open up a whole variety of other storytelling avenues. Capture a bit of the artistic process itself for a behind-the-scenes story for social. Put out a competitive call for submissions to students across the country – the selection process itself can bring depth and interest to your story. Bring artists and scientists together to collaborate — their unique POVs could make your storytelling even more powerful. Whatever you do, think deeply about your content strategy from different artistic angles.

Where to find the right talent


IG is a great place to find fresh talent that fits a specific aesthetic you may be looking for. Be sure to check their followers. One way to approach your content strategy is to target artists who can also help amplify your content through their own channels. More followers means your content could reach a larger audience. Though artists with smaller followings may be more willing to work within tighter budgets. Make sure you check their bios for links to websites and portfolios, and contact info for commissions. Don’t DM – email is still best for official communications like work inquiries.

Try searching with some specific hashtags like:


Art collectives offer a hub of talent where you can quickly and easily scroll through profiles and portfolios all in one place. Often you can search by style, genre, and even artist location or demographic. This can be really helpful if you’re hoping to work with diverse artists. One of our favorite resources is Women Who Draw.


Many artists at a certain career threshold work with agents to represent them. Artist agents can be a powerful resource to help you find a wide portfolio of artists quickly. If one artist in an agent’s portfolio is unavailable, the agent may be able to quickly recommend someone else.  This can be an effective approach to finding some of the most talented illustrators, photographers, and fine artists in the field. Most recently we’ve enjoyed working with Purple Rain Illustrators.

Freelance Listings

If your project has a tight deadline, consider posting your brief to a freelancer portal. There are lots of places where creative freelancers can search and submit for project work. The talent pool for these can be global and varied – so you may end up with a lot of submissions. Look for artists who submit relevant work, and respond directly to your posting (rather than just sending a form letter). Working with global artists in a different timezone than you can have its advantages – they can be working while you’re off the clock. Here are a few places to start looking for freelancers:

Working Not Working

Art Schools

If you have a longer timeline for your project, consider opening your search up to students. Many art schools have programs where jobs can be submitted or circulated to current students and recent graduates. For example, SVA has an employer portal where you can post your job listing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to schools or professors to discuss your project and how you might tap into their students. Working with student artists can give you access to some incredible raw talent. Just be aware that timelines will need to be extended, as students are balancing your project with their course load. You can go straight through a school – for example. Or you can use a recruiting tool like Handshake to post your job listing to multiple schools at once.

Found an artist? Great! Check out our companion piece on Working with Artists.

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