There are some things that you just need to know or be aware of when entering an industry. Often this need-to-know information is collected in an “industry bible.” Bestowing such a title on a book or website or magazine essentially makes it required reading.
For the photography industry, such bibles include a who’s who showcasing the best creatives in the field — a trio of publications fit the bill: Graphis, Communication Arts, and Lürzer’s Archive. All three focus on what they consider to be the best in a field broadly defined as “visual communications.” Not only do these bibles include photography, but also illustration, advertising, and design, among other disciplines.
Thanks to this broad perspective, many creative directors and art buyers keep tabs on the content that these publications feature. Doing so is a great way to stay abreast of what is in vogue at any given time.
Graphis was born in Zürich, Switzerland, in 1944 but was bought out and moved to New York City in 1986. Annually, in addtion to a regular magazine and journal, they publish five hardcover books: Photography, Poster, Design, Advertising, and New Talent. They also release “non-annuals” in logo design & letterheads, typography, branding, nudes, and more. The visuals in the books are chosen through competitions. Editor Sara Gonzalez tells us that they receive an average of 500 submissions per competition, but the Design and New Talent competitions get even more than that.
Anyone who consistently wins Graphis awards could potentially gain recognition from the company as a Graphis Master. After taking notice, someone from Graphis will “request the potential master to give us around 30 – 50 low res images of work for us to consider.” After that, a decision is made as to whether or not the distinction has been earned.
As a Graphis Master, [the artist] gets a Master Portfolio on the site, promoting their work on our site and social media.
In addition to print editions and contests, Graphis offers a professional membership with access to archives, portfolios, and other materials for $75 a year. Members also get half off when submitting to competitions, the fees for which are generally $150 for a single image or $300 for a series. Their website also features a blog that showcases one of the Graphis Masters every week and a breakdown of the best design schools throughout the world.
Communication Arts was started in 1959 in Menlo Park, California. In 1995 they became the first major design publication to launch a website. Each year, Communication Arts devotes an issue to the best players in each major field of visual communications — not only photography, but also graphic design, advertising, illustration, typography, and interactive media — and host a juried competition that many consider the most prestigious of its kind. Submission to these competitions requires a $40 fee for a single image or $80 for an image series.
In addition to their print media, Communication Arts also maintains an online blog that features insightful think pieces from creative directors and other highly respected members of the art and advertising communities. They even have a stand-alone website specifically for job opportunities in creative fields that draws over a million page views each month, aptly-named creative hotlist.
Lürzer’s Archive has been presenting the best that the advertising world has to offer since it began publishing in Frankfurt in 1984. Since then, it has relocated to Vienna, and in 1998 it expanded to include photography, illustration, packaging, product/music design, and other fields. Lürzer’s goes to print bi-monthly for their regular volumes and also churns out a pair of their “200 Best” catalogs annually. These can range in topic, covering those at the top of fields such as advertising, photography, digital art, illustration, or packaging design. Each of these volumes reaches a circulation of somewhere in the range of 20,000 to 30,000, with a total circulation of closer to 40,000.
While there are no fees to submit work to Lürzer’s Archive, there is a “modest fee” if an artist’s work is selected for one of the “200 Best” books. Additionally, Lürzer’s publishes filterable rankings on everything from clients to agencies to design schools and everything in between.