Out of the Blue Bliss

Years ago while I was creating designs for my parish’s liturgy committee, I decided to enter a liturgical art contest.

My art didn’t place in the contest. Not even a mention. More than a year later, one of the images of my work appeared on the cover of a magazine owned by the company from the contest.

It was my first time as a published artist. It didn’t register with me at the time, even when I opened the magazine and saw my name for the cover credit. As I look back on it, I am glad I put myself out there by entering the contest. The experience fostered a seed planted long ago.

I am acquainted with several artists who volunteer their time to illustrate sacred stories. You never know where it will lead, for me the experience was far richer than getting notice on a magazine cover. In fact, I would describe it as bliss.

Cover art by Mary A Livingston  6'x9' in fabric

Cover art by Mary A Livingston
6’x9′ in fabric

20 thoughts on “Out of the Blue Bliss

  1. So, when you submitted your artwork you gave them rights to publish what you had submitted? I think it’s great that you got your work published . . . just perfect for a December issue.
    And it is lovely! But I’m just wondering how this all works. Would you like to have known in advance that they were publishing it? Does the publisher run contests to solicit artwork? I understand how thrilled you must have been and that there are many artists that are willing to create sacred art voluntarily. But “Sister” is wondering about what is just . . . a just wage . . . and the proper place and appreciation of artists.

    Your work is great, and I hope this experience encouraged you to keep at it!!!


    • That topic did come up for discussion. When the magazine came out I was participating in LIMEX and one of my fellow students was an attorney by day. I did read the fine print before I entered and knew the parent company had the ability to print submissions, with credit, of course. Whether that permission extended beyond the parent company of the magazine for entry (Ministry & Liturgy) to a sibling magazine (Liturgical Catechesis) could probably be argued. I do believe the publisher fully intended to use art from the contest in this way, based on the entrance statement at the time. Interestingly, today the publisher Resource Publications, clearly states “All entries are automatically eligible to be considered for future use on covers of Ministry & Liturgy magazine.” The wording was more vague in 2002.
      They did provide an advertising package to show their appreciation. I didn’t have a design studio nor was I working as an artist, so it was of no use to me at the time. But a payment that I could have donated to the parish would have been nice. Just sayin’! 😉


      • I’m with you, Opreach. I would be offended that anyone, and especially a religious organization, would use such a contest to obtain free artwork. Every time artists let folks get away with using their work for free–and without permission–it devalues our profession. It’s up to us as a community to demand a fair wage for our work. As Suze Ormond says, “you are not on sale!” (I love that woman). Interesting enough, when I first read this post I thought to myself, I would be outraged if my work was used without permission, not pleased, and it looks like Opreach had a similar reaction. Just thought I’d throw in my two cents. Have a good one, Mary.


        • Oh, gosh…When I entered the contest, I gave permission.
          When we voluntarily enter anything, we agree to the terms of entry. I do not have the terms this many years later, but I do recall the terms stating that ML had permission to print the images submitted. LC is run by the same parent company.
          They have since made the terms very clear that submissions will be considered for covers, so by submitting the artist is also submitting to be on the cover.
          Likewise, I still own the rights – so I can freely publicize that my work is on the cover.
          If we do not like the terms of a contest, we do not have to enter.


  2. The art is beautiful! Was this fabric, or painted on fabric? Nice to see your first published work and to see how it was used.


    • It was all fabric. It was a transitional piece. Starting with a few rays of light, then water, then a hand pouring water…etc. It grew each week.
      It was all fabric back then – I was afraid of brushes. lol


  3. Beautiful work, Mary, and you used it for both His greater glory, and as the catalyst for a very good discussion here in the comments. That’s a definite win-win, well done to you on several different levels. Now if we could only get Tim to follow your good example… : )


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