Help us hire more illustrators to enliven our work

We’re raising $2,000 to shore up our budget for original editorial art.
Illustration: Cube-like abstract shapes against an orange background. Illustration by Maggie Denman.
Illustration by Maggie Denman.

We’re raising $2,000 to shore up our budget for original editorial art.

At Tone Madison, we take pride in commissioning local artists to create editorial illustrations for many of our stories. We pay them, in addition to paying the people who write and edit our journalism. One of our big goals this year is to do even more of this. You can help us.

Over the years we’ve generally paid our freelance artists between $80 and $300 per assignment, depending on the scope of work and the time involved. So if you’re giving $15 a month, let’s say, you are literally helping to make an editorial illustration possible. Knowing that we have that money in the bank, that we can pay people for their work at a time when it’s increasingly difficult for artists and journalists to make ends meet—that’s a powerful thing.

We’re trying to raise $2,000 by the end of June to shore up our budget for editorial art. This gives us the confidence to plan ahead, assign more of this vital work, and hopefully even increase our rates.


A great editorial illustration is about way more than appearances. It’s about more, even, than the tiresome game of getting search and social-media algorithms to pay attention to us. Our artists bring wit, humor, and complexity to stories that are hard to visualize through a simple photo. Just like a good headline, a good illustration can draw readers in, hinting at the nuance and dimension of a piece of journalism. 

Each artist we’ve commissioned brings a distinctive style and outlook to the table—Lauden Nute’s hand-drawn brashness, Jeremy Nealis’ frenzied digital mind-melds, M.Rose Sweetnam’s stormy collage. The unmistakable, playful wit of Rachal Duggan and Maggie Denman. Put it all together, and you’ve got a much fuller idea of how people in Madison thinks and feels—how Madison looks, and how Madison looks at itself. Oh, and working with all of these folks is such a fun and rewarding part of my job. 

Like everything we do at Tone Madison, it fundamentally depends on reader support. Help us keep publishing and help us keep looking great. These artists never fail to surprise and delight me, and I think you’ll feel the same.

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