Submissions for Issue II are finally open (through April 16), so I wanted to offer some transparency into our selection process. We made a lot of mistakes on our first go-around. Our submissions window was too short, and our submissions process was too unstructured. We allowed countless entries per submission and no page limit. Thankfully, since we didn’t put ourselves in a position to get a bunch of submissions, we actually had space for the longer pieces (and honestly, for The Scream and The, I would have made the room).
To be honest, in our first go-round, we probably were as inefficient as possible. Because people could submit multiple pieces in the same form, we didn’t have a neat and easy way to take the information from the Google form and turn it into a voting sheet. We ended up voting by email in a boring, disorganized fashion that I won’t bother delving into, but in the end it was easy enough to select the winning pieces. Pieces with a majority vote got in automatically, and we all had an opportunity to advocate for pieces that didn’t make it through.
There’s some playing around of course; for example if one piece maybe isn’t strong enough on its own but pairs well with someone else’s piece, it will probably get in. And because we strive for balance, we sometimes end up commissioning pieces with an opposing point of view if we have a strong but unmatched submission. Accepted pieces get moved into a separate folder, and then it’s onto layout.
Once we have our accepted pieces, we try to create a flow. There is no science to this. We go with our gut, create an order, and review as a team to make any changes. We try to create a smooth journey between the written pieces and visual art so that reading the magazine feels like a cohesive experience. Of course, not all written and visual pieces can be matched together, and nothing is perfect, but somehow it all works out in the end.
You’ll notice that this time, we’re asking that each piece be submitted individually. We’re genuinely sorry if this is tedious on you, but it makes organizing the votes and the accepted files infinitely easier for us. We are still learning the best way to go about this process, so please bear with us (and feel free to send feedback). We’re also imposing a word limit this time with the hopes of being able to feature a wider range of artists. If you have a longer piece that fits our theme, please feel free to email us. While we can’t guarantee anything, we might be able to work something out (excerpting, splitting your piece into sections throughout the issue, or maybe we’ll have extra space).
There you have it! A little look into how Contrarium is made. I hope you enjoyed the insight into our process, and that this transparency helps aspiring artists during the submission process. Stay tuned for an interview with one of my favorite artists/people, and please feel free to contact us any time with feedback or questions.