Case Study: How I Landed My Own Arts Column

By Lowri Llewelyn

Here in Wales, just about every woman under the age of 35 has a print by Niki Pilkington on her wall. Having worked with clients ranging from MTV to Sir Paul McCartney, I was inspired by this small town girl who became Kind of a Big Deal.

Despite Niki’s popularity, I noticed none of the local publications were writing about her.

I didn’t know all that much about art but was determined to share what her work meant to me as a young Welsh woman – so I got writing, even though I hadn’t figured out who would publish it yet.

Then I came across a print magazine named Abersoch Life. It just happened to cover the region Niki had grown up in; the website encouraged freelancers to get in touch, titillating them with the promise of ‘‘competitive’’ pay. I submitted a pitch:

Dear Kevin,

I am a young Welsh writer and have written for several publications including Where to go in Merseyside, the Liverpool Echo, and the North Wales Chronicle.

I have attached an unpublished feature on native Niki Pilkington, titled ‘From Pen Llyn to Palm Springs: The Young Welsh Illustrator Living the American Dream’.

Pilkington’s quirky art is making waves among young people in particular and now retails across the globe. I myself am an avid collector and would love to share my passion with your readers, many of whom I suspect will be encountering her work for the first time.

The piece can be cut or extended to accommodate your preferred word count. Please also find attached relevant images.

If this piece isn’t quite right for your publication, I’d also be thrilled to write anything you might want to commission. A regular column would be a dream!

Have a beautiful week,


It might seem odd to anticipate readers not being familiar with Niki’s work; along with a smattering of locals, in warmer months the region is descended on by English tourists and second home owners. As I was pitching ahead of the summer issue, I knew a large portion of the magazine’s readership wouldn’t be local, and was eager to introduce Niki’s work to new audiences. This is why it’s important to do your research and figure out who your readers are.

I was offered £25, which I admit I was quite put out with! Unusually for me, I felt confident enough in my work to challenge the editor – and walked away with £75. Looking back, my pitch definitely left something to be desired, but it also shows that a solid idea will get you far. Though the standard of my pitches has changed, one thing I have stuck with is attaching relevant images to leave a lasting impression on the editor. Try to envision what your work will look like on the page.

After the article was published, I asked the editor whether there was any more work available. They immediately offered me my own arts column. I negotiated £50 per column, which adds up to £200 a year. Though it might seem like good fortune to have landed a column, it’s worth remembering that the more rural an area the publication covers, the less contributors they’re likely to have. It’s worth asking.

I also began pitching features, which in time progressed to the editor assigning me stories. Not only that, but eventually I was trusted to proofread and edit the work of other contributors before going to press. That’s another £12.50 an hour.

But that isn’t the end of my Niki article. Next, I pitched it to North Wales Magazine, this one covering a much broader region. I scored a commission – £75 – tweaking it slightly to promote art as an ideal Christmas gift. I’ve written countless articles for North Wales Magazine since.

Finally, while browsing Freedom With Writing’s free book 1531 Magazines, Websites, and Blogs that Pay Writers, I came across a Canadian publication called Celtic Life International. I noted that while there was Irish and Scottish coverage aplenty, Welsh contributions were woefully sparse. I was confident that with a little tweaking, my article could appeal to Celtic Life International’s older readers – what better way for a Canadian granny to teach her granddaughter about her heritage than through funky art?

Unfortunately, the pandemic hit as I pitched my idea, and freelance budgets were cut.

I was asked to check in again in July, so I’m still holding out hope of selling the piece a third time.

Thanks to a single article, I inadvertently landed my own arts column and countless other commissions. Seeing my work in print gave me the confidence to approach my dream publications, and I eventually landed commissions from the likes of Refinery29 and the HuffPost. Always be on the lookout for opportunities, continuously asking yourself what interesting information and opinions you have to contribute.

You can read a digital copy of Lowri’s Niki Pilkington article here, and a copy of her arts column here (pages 76-78).


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