Art at On Being

The On Being Project finds inspiration at the intersection of art and audio, and believes in their power to heal, reflect, and engage our community.

Art as the doorway and the message.

Complex topics, important questions, and transformative reflections are woven throughout our ongoing work of social healing. This work includes calls for visual assets that uplift a voice or topic while equally honoring the artists and the perspectives they create with us.

As a doorway, we use art to promote our podcasts and offerings as one of multiple entry points to our community. We produce art and audio in tandem through rigorous editorial alignment. Our intentions are to use art to: visually distill the podcast episode, poem, or excerpt; evoke a feeling that invites further engagement with our content and ideas; celebrate a topic matter or theme; visualize the guest of the podcast; and invite an artist’s interpretation of the content.

We are committed to working with artists whose lived experience connects with and complements the content. In some cases, that has meant partnering with a Black artist to create a piece that portrays a particular aspect of the guest’s Black experience, or commission work from someone who has shared openly about their mental health struggles for an episode about depression.

We are committed to a process of collaboration grounded in trusting relationships that honor the artist’s style and support them in bringing editorial ideas to life. Further, it is essential to us that our artistic partners feel that the work they produce aligns with their own artistic style and standards. Our detailed briefs aim to provide full transparency about the work we are seeking, where the work will be used, and the editorial goals of the piece. Our collaboration includes an introductory meeting and additional exchanges of communication (phone, video call, or email) that allow the artist to feel confident and supported.

The role of art in our visual identity. 

We are a media organization with an established style and require art to meet a certain level of quality, expertise, and aesthetic. We use a defined color palette to create cohesion across different styles. We seek to partner with artists who consider illustration, photography, or animation as a primary skill and have examples of their work to demonstrate these abilities. Please visit this page for more specificity in mood board format.

Visual style is a primary consideration when we hire an artist for a commission. We preference digital artists over fine artists due to our need to utilize high-resolution media across our digital platforms.

A commitment to Placemaking.

We understand we exist within a system that creates preference for art from/by/through a white, male, Christian gaze and experience. We have the power to reshape the narrative and are invested in working with United States-based artists who identify as one or more of the following: Black, Indigenous, people of color, women, LGBTQIA+, non-binary, trans people, people living with physical or cognitive disabilities, Muslim, Jewish, and people from a variety of religious or spiritual traditions. The On Being Project understands ourselves to be an economic player in a racialized economy, and our goal is to put money into that imbalance. For this reason, we are transparent and specific with our rates: we pay a minimum of $500 per individual digital illustration, or $250 per image license. These rates are a starting point for discussion and collaboration.

In the spirit of transparency, it’s important to us that you know:

We strive to create space for creative freedom and the expression of each individual artist, and acknowledge that there are many stakeholders in the editorial process. Due to internal factors, we cannot promise that your work will be made publicly available for any number of reasons – including but not limited to: a cancellation of the project, a redirection from our editorial team, or a redirection from the creative leads. However, we can promise that you will always be compensated for your time regardless of the final status of the project.

The two people who currently make art hiring decisions are our Creative Director and Art Director. We acknowledge that our identities and lived experience afford us a particular and limited vantage point from which to engage the selection process. As such, we are committed to the ongoing development in our self-awareness surrounding identity and power as an essential component of our creative process. In light of this commitment, we share the identities of the people in these two positions: white cisgender female (Creative Director), Asian American cisgender female (Art Director). We recognize these make a difference for how we perceive art and how we are perceived and that these identities are not the totality of our or our commissioned artists’ lived experience.

Sample Projects 

In addition to our On Being episode illustrations, we are excited by opportunities to weave art into On Being Project content whenever possible.

Examples include:

The Grounding Virtues
Illustration Series by Lisk Feng

Poetry Films
Animation Series by Katy Wang, Ella Dobson, Matt Huynh, Elyse Kelly, Leo G. Franchi, Travis Wood, Taian Lu, and Ana Pérez López

Anniversary Video
Animation by Andrew Khosravani

Poetry Unbound
Letterpress Prints by Myrna Keliher and Photography by Lucero Torres

This Movie Changed Me
Illustration Season 2 Series by Julia Kuo
Illustration Season 3 Series by Grace J. Kim

Poetry Unbound
Series Launch Photography by Trevor Brady

Future of Hope
Painted series by Ifada Nisa

Visual Library Assets
Photography by Guarionex Jr, Whitten Sabbatini, Adewale Agboola, and Bethany Birnie

We encourage artists that align with The On Being Project’s goals and visual identity to submit their portfolio for consideration through our artist portal.

Every 18 months we will revisit this approach to modify and update as needed, incorporating specific feedback sought from our artistic partners.