What do you guys think about promotional contests? Do the capitalists win?!



  • I'm joking about the capitalism thing (that's a whole other thread). But, I want to know what you guys think about promotional contests.

    This is partly inspired by @burvantill's post a couple days ago about the Mortal Engines contest, but I've been thinking about this for a while. Not trying to be a wet blanket or call the contest out, in fact if I have time, I'd like to enter. But, it's a good example of this scenario I'm wondering about.

    Should we enter contests that have been created by companies to basically promote a product and get art for cheap or free?

    If I were in the marketing department at Universal and someone brought up this contest idea, it would make a lot of sense. Drum up buzz for this movie on social media through some cool art, all the while potentially getting to pick out some new and unique images for a fraction of the price you'd pay an illustrator. As a new artist, you get exposure (I know, a dirty word) as they promote both winners and runners up on social media, and you could potentially get your work in front of Peter Jackson (in this case), and others who could get you hired (this is why I like this particular contest). Not to mention you're paid if you win.

    On the other hand, you're undercutting a whole industry of agents and illustrators by taking little or no pay and no extra benefits. Plus, if you don't win, they have the right to use your work for free for a year and even alter it.

    This is all kind of specific, so my real question is, is it worth the risk of having your art misused (even with your knowledge) if you could potentially get exposure or even win the thing?

    Would love to hear what you guys think.



  • I have followed a conversation about this very thing in relation to crowd-sourced art to possibly be put into a video game. It boiled down to basically two viewpoints:

    • You deserve to be paid a proper wage for your work. Companies should hire artists and stop being cheap.
    • Companies are getting the audience involved! They're not forcing you to submit anything, so quit complaining.

    I can see both angles I suppose, but the final answer will be personal preference. If you decide to enter one of these contests you are taking away your own time to work on something else. So ask yourself some questions:

    • Is it something I'm really excited about?
    • Is it something I can get more mileage out of? A portfolio piece or a future sketchbook collection?
    • Am I okay with getting nothing for my time?

    If you're really excited about the subject of the contest, and you have the time, go for it. But I imagine most of the popular artists I know didn't get well-known by winning a contest. There are other ways to get exposure and keep the rights to your work.


  • Moderator

    @Amber-Bellerjeau I'm glad that you posted this. I have been feeling conflicted about this contest and couldn't put my finger on why. @carriecopa made some very good points that I am deeply considering. I have made a couple of sketches, but not sure if I'm going to follow through. I'm gonna let this stew for a couple of days. =)x



  • @amber-bellerjeau I amber I was thinking of entering this one ( if I have time) ,but I do get exactly want you are saying.First of all have entered quite a lot of contests maybe about 5-6 a year, I do find there is a lot of complaints by non winners,but in general I think the best entries are chosen. I did these for experience and dealing with time limits and it really helped me.I have also entered because the prizes sounded good,I have placed in some contests and got good prizes but usually you stand a better chance in the smaller contests.
    I do have a problem with certain sites offering challenges with no prizes,( I am not talking about SVS challege here) although I dont want to name the very popular site. The thing is I participated in a couple of them and the sheer amount of work they are asking is a real cheek, I dont mind doing one illustration ,but certain sites want you to design 10 characters .I cant help thinking they are using artists designs to stockpile ideas for the future. so on principle i will not be entering anymore character design challenges. I feel if they want 10 characters they can pay for them but I am surprised by the number of artists still entering these I felt said when a really great artist said he strained his wrist because he was drawing so much-artists need to look after their hands so doing a lot of work with no pay is really bad for your future.Anyway sorry for the ramble



  • @burvantill it's the fine print that gets you in these contests. Even gallery or illustration contests have had stuff like this in the fine print. Like I said, this one makes me feel a little better because your work is potentially seen by actual professionals, not just the masses, but it's a very dark grey area as far as business practices are concerned. @carriecopa is entirely right about it being a potential time waster if you have other stuff to do.



  • @dottyp congrats on placing, even if you were not a fan of how the competitions were run, that's a great accomplishment. I think I know the site you're talking about, and I agree. Most of the competitions I see are kind of dodgy, and it seems like they aren't really regulated, so some are worse than others. I've seen this happen even in the fine art world too, a friend of mine is into the plein air scene and that has a whole other set of problems from both artists and competition organizers. I will say, I was very disappointed I couldn't enter the ILM Star Wars competition from a couple years ago but I was graduating college so, you know. That one is even trickier because one of the prizes was a job, so it was kind of like a gameified job application which, I don't know how to feel about that. Being a huge Star Wars fan, I was mostly interested in the subject matter, so it was kind of a win win for me, had I had the time. (And yes, I should have said, the SVS competition is not included in this blanket statement of a thread I've created here.)

    As for your wrist, you gotta at least use the drummer stretches man, lift weights if you can and watch your posture (I need to work on the last one). So many artists suffer with it and you gotta take care of that tool.



  • @amber-bellerjeau Thanks Amber I did not mean to imply i got placed in big art contests,it was just some small websites contests.I would say to people enter If you really want but just be aware if you see your art in a game a few years from now there is probulary nothing you can do about it


Log in to reply