I recently had the honor of having one of my illustrations selected by the United Nations for their Global Call Out to Creatives to Fight COVID-19. I thought I would write about the steps I took to create this design as well as how I shared this good news and the important mission my art is now a part of.
- The Opportunity
- Inspiration for “Safe at Home”
- This is BIG – Getting Shortlisted by the United Nations
- Pitching to the Media
- Media Blitz/Social Media Exposure
- Other Avenues
I discovered the opportunity to submit to the United Nations’ Global Call Out to Creatives to Fight COVID-19 on the Talenthouse website. Talenthouse coordinated the submissions and selection process. Over 16,000 creatives submitted illustrations and videos for six categories: Personal Hygiene, Physical/Social Distancing, Know the Symptoms, Kindness Contagion, Myth-Busting and Do More, Donate. The chosen artworks are available for free (for a year) to media outlets around the world to help fight the Coronavirus.
Visit the United Nations’ Content Hub to see all the chosen artworks
Visit Karen Burton’s “Safe at Home” illustration on the United Nations’ Content Hub
I submitted three different designs for consideration. They can be seen on the Talenthouse website.
Inspiration for “Safe at Home”
I started off thinking about doing something with flowers as they are so comforting – either a seed packet, a globe or a house covered in wildflowers with SAFE AT HOME incorporated as the title. I found the ivy-covered house photo online and thought of doing vining flowers along the sides of a house. I created a group of white flowers to start – fully intending to add the vines and more windows to the little pink house as well as shrubs and trees around the yard. Once I got started placing the flowers all over, the “hug of flowers” just made sense to me – so I decided to stop there. The puff of smoke and the crisp shadow made it feel “finished” to me.
This is BIG – Getting Shortlisted by the United Nations
I was amazed to discover that “Safe at Home” was chosen by the United Nations to be part of this meaningful effort. I am just so thrilled to hopefully have some small impact on this mission. “Safe at Home” is meant to remind others of the importance of social distancing that is so critical in the effort to stop the Coronavirus from spreading. Staying home has become a crucial strategy for flattening the curve of the pandemic and for saving lives. A simple graphic style combined with a bit of whimsy and strong colors help to make the message clear. A sense of coziness along with the cheerful hug of flowers covering the exterior make the house look safe and welcoming.
It really was a fortunate situation for me to have something come together like this – with a connection to the United Nations for a relevant and hopefully helpful design and a good cause at the same time. I realized I should do some research and outreach to spread the news about this honor and mission. I started locally, thinking it would be newsworthy for a local artist to be part of this charitable effort with the United Nations. I crafted a press release to announce the news, provide an image of the illustration and links to the United Nations’ Content Hub. See my press release below:
I made a list of local publications/websites near where I live in Virginia – outside of Washington, DC. I started with Loudoun County Magazine, a wonderful quarterly publication with a strong online and social media presence. Following their submission guidelines, I emailed their art director with an introduction and an attached press release. The subject line was as follows: STORY PITCH – local artist has illustration chosen for the United Nations’ Global Call Out to Fight COVID-19.
Two important things I learned about writing a press release was to include a quote and work on the hierarchy and focus of the story. My original text stated things this way:
- One of local artist Karen Burton’s illustrations has been chosen for the United Nations’ Global Call Out to Creatives to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The editor changed it to:
- The United Nations’ Global Call Out to Creatives to help stop the spread of COVID-19 recently selected an illustration by Loudoun artist Karen Burton.
Loudoun County Magazine
Loudoun County Magazine featured my “Safe at Home” illustration on their Instagram account first . A couple of their Instagram followers reposted my design, offering their congratulations. I posted my thanks by reposting each one in my own Instagram stories – furthering the social media exposure. I also created an Instagram story highlight titled “United Nations” where I put all of the mentions.
Loudoun County Magazine also included my “Safe at Home” illustration and story in their newsletter which contained a link to view the story on their website. They also featured “Safe at Home” on their LinkedIn account.
WJLA/ABC Channel 7/Chimein (Washington, DC)
“Safe at Home” was also featured on the website of local TV channel WJLA/ABC Channel 7 in the section called Chime In (in the Social Distancing and Work from Home section).
I tried some larger media outlets without success, at least for now (it won’t happen if you don’t try). I submitted to Northern Virginia Magazine and the Washington Post – I even had a personal connection at the latter. I thought the Today Show’s Morning Boost could possibly be interested but they only want videos as part of the story. A friend suggested I ask my son and daughter-in-law (he is a doctor-to-be starting his family practice residency in a month and she is a nurse) to film themselves holding up a picture of “Safe at Home” and imploring people to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and safety.
An interesting website called Creative Boom seemed a possible fit. They feature the beautiful work of artists and designers with some stories about various aspects of fighting COVID-19 and managing creative time in lock-down. Their submission guidelines forced me to tighten my bio and gather other portfolio pieces to show in the hopes of getting an interview down the road if they were not interested in the current pandemic-themed story.
I belong to quite a few private artist Facebook groups relating to art, pattern design, illustration, and licensing. The tremendous reception my exciting news garnered was very exhilarating as these are the people who most relate to how big it is to have a design included in such a prestigious and rewarding initiative for the United Nations. So, my goal for sharing to these groups of artists from around the world is to tell them to “keep putting your work out there and know that your art has the power to impact others in positive ways.”
You can subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this post if you want to see new work, inspiration and other creative tidbits. Thanks so much for reading this post. I hope it helps in some small way.
Karen Burton is an illustrator, designer, and photographer – inspired by her view of the Blue Ridge mountains from her home and studio in Virginia. She creates colorful, uplifting illustrations and surface pattern designs suitable for home decor, textiles, stationery, tabletop, publishing, and other products. Available for commissions, licensing and other custom projects. She has lots of future plans and dreams: illustrating a cookbook, creating illustrations for food magazines or culinary packaging, having a gallery show featuring her large-scale floral portraits, and seeing her art on all types of surfaces.