Visual AIDS invites artists to submit proposals for new comics to be included in our Summer 2020 exhibition.

Visual AIDS utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: January 6, 2020

Visual AIDS will present a new exhibition in Summer 2020 curated by UK-based artist Paul Sammut. The exhibition will take place in New York City and explore the rich history of comics as a mirror for contemporary culture, and as relatable and accessible educational tools in the fight against HIV and AIDS. In many styles and forms—from mainstream titles such as The Incredible Hulk and X-Men, to underground activist publications and GMHC’s Safer Sex Comix—artists and writers have used comics to demystify AIDS, disseminate information about HIV prevention and harm reduction, and as spaces for shared testimonies and histories.

As part of the exhibition we are looking to commission 2-3 new, short narrative comic works that explore contemporary issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. Commissioned comics will be included in the exhibition and catalog.

We are interested in proposals that:

  • align with Visual AIDS’ sustained work to engage in activism, advocacy, and education in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and to support individuals living with HIV
  • tell a story with sequential elements/include a narrative
  • use the democratic form of comics as a tool for testimony, education and activism

There is no requirement for the proposals to adhere to mainstream comic formats or page counts. We would suggest that artists propose short form works that can be reasonably and realistically developed in the proposed timescale of February to April. Extent will be discussed further with shortlisted artists in January 2020.

Please consider that the final works will be published in a printed format and also exhibited in our upcoming summer exhibition.

We are not looking for works that already exist, or are already in progress, but proposals may include, sketches, plots and diagrams alongside examples of existing work.

Artists need not have worked in comics before.

Visual AIDS and curator Paul Sammut will work with selected artists to develop their proposals into finished works. Selected artists are expected to supply their finished works by April 1, 2020. The final works will be exhibited as part of the exhibition, included in the catalog, and may be distributed by Visual AIDS or utilized for additional promotion of the exhibition.

How to Apply

To apply, please provide the following materials:

  1. 1-2 page proposal of maximum 500 words, including notes/images/sketches
  2. Examples of relevant work
  3. Your C.V.

Email proposals to [email protected] with email subject line "Comics Proposal 2019: [Name of Applicant(s)]". Please note that as the guest curator is based outside of the US we can only accept digital applications.

The deadline for applications is January 6, 2020.

If you have any questions about the application process, email [email protected].


Artists living with HIV are highly encouraged to apply.

Artists need not have worked in comics before.

We welcome applications that consider experiences and stories that have been excluded from larger artistic, social, and historical accounts of HIV and AIDS, such as those of communities of color, women, and trans people.

Proposals must be in English. We can accept works that will be produced in other languages, but will require them to include an English translation.


Commissions will be selected by guest curator Paul Sammut.


We will aim to short-list in early January 2020 and notify successful applicants by January 31st. If your work is short-listed we may contact you for further information. We will subsequently develop a schedule with the artists to have the finished works published and ready for exhibition by April 1st 2020.


Visual AIDS is a WAGE certified organization and all commissioned artists will receive a honorarium of $500, plus copies of their published comic (quantity TBC). Visual AIDS will be responsible for all production, publishing and marketing costs. Original artwork will be returned to the artist after the exhibition. The selected artists will be asked to sign an agreement with Visual AIDS that will include a contract and schedule for work.

General Information on Visual AIDS

Visual AIDS is the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to HIV prevention and AIDS awareness through producing and presenting visual art projects, while assisting artists living with HIV/AIDS. We are committed to preserving and honoring the work of artists with HIV/AIDS and the artistic contributions of the AIDS movement. We embrace diversity and difference in our staff, leadership, artists and audiences.

Guest Curator, Paul Sammut:

An artist based in London; Paul Sammut studied at University of Brighton and is currently researching LGBTQ+ suburban histories. An accredited Relational Dynamics Coach, Sammut regularly holds artist’s surgeries and coaching sessions to aid artists in project development and realisation. Most recently these have been for Book Works, London; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; and the London Creative Network programme at SPACE, London. He has worked for the A.C.E. funded organisation Book Works since 2009 and is a trustee for the arts charity Three Letter Words. As part of his practice he has worked with curator Alexandra Terry (MCA Santa Barbara) under the name P.A.S.T. Projects (2010 – 2015) and run the queer project space White Cubicle (2012 – 2017). He has recently begun publishing under the name Valletta House and is currently a member of the queer publishing focussed collective Strange Perfume.