3rd Thursday Rules ???



  • I agree totally with @Lee-White and @Will-Terry. It is hard to keep everyone satisfied. The thing I like the most here is that everyone gets the same chances, good critiques and reviews. People are nor rated for the the best ever, but for the best they can give, and by this system, there's encouragement to grow in their work, whatever stage their in. With some adjusted rules, it maybe is more satisfying for everyone that enters the competition. Now then, I wish you all a VERY HAPPY, CREATIVE NEW YEAR! Together, lets make this '2016 thing' rock!



  • I really don't think the system needs a complete overhaul. Maybe the frequency of having an opportunity to be critiqued should be looked at, but that's really it. Maybe it is something as simple as not being able to be critiqued in consecutive months. We all have to remember that this competition is free and the SVS staff has limited time outside their paying gigs.


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Will and I discussed the possibility of this system:

    1. There is only one winner that is declared each month. We will crit that one lightly, but only one will win to keep things simple and easy.

    2. We will show the honorable mentions as well. People whose work was almost there, but for whatever reason didn't get the win.

    3. Each judge will crit two pieces of their choosing. These aren't "winners" nor are they the worst either. They are just images that we think we can improve that would be good value to the community.

    4. ALL work will be shown in the forum and perhaps on the website. You guys all work hard and we want to showcase it in a better way.



  • @Lee-White Perfect answer!!


  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White I like it!! I think it is an excellent plan!

    You guys are so great to take time to do this for us, so hopefully everyone will get the most out of it 🙂



  • I really appreciate all the input from you guys - it makes it much easier for us to figure this thing out. In the end we want to - 1) Do the most good for the most amount of people. 2) Make the majority happy. If our new rules for 2016 aren't exactly what you had in mind please know that we're trying to accommodate a wide variety of abilities, ages, genders, and commitment levels - AND - we can still modify 3rd Thursday again if we don't get it right. Lee has taught for many years in a professional setting as have I and Jake and sometimes we choose what we feel is best for the up and coming artist rather than what they think they want...(and even then we second guess ourselves sometimes 🙂

    I'm really looking forward to 2016 3rd Thursday - it really is the highlight of the month for me!



  • @Will-Terry Me too!!



  • @mattramsey Even if the process of determining a ranking were tedious (Let's say, for the sake of argument, it was), and? They're doing it only once month. Is it something worth investing time in, or is it something to only do half-assed? If the goal is to have this little community take the competition seriously, then shouldn't the instructors, too, take it very seriously? I personally don't think it would be tedious at all for each instructor to rank all entries on a list subjectively, for the site admin to mathematically determine an averaged, final list, and for it to be entered on the site. It wouldn't be more than a couple hours work. But, again, even if it were greatly tedious, so what? It's a monthly task, and if they want it to be taken seriously, for it to be helpful, for it to be meaningful, then effort must be made on all sides to achieve that goal.

    As for your notion that, qualitatively speaking, why is #23 not #25... the judges must do this in their minds anyway. Sure, they're only picking a top 5, ultimately. Yet, they are still separating those out from the rest. Would it really be that difficult to look at two illustrations, and, based on whatever criteria they decide, choose one as better fitting the assignment? One cannot escape the need to compare entries within a competition in which entries are judged. It is an absolute, unavoidable, necessity.

    How does the last ranked person feel? Terrible, I'm sure. If/when that would happen to me, I would too. But, no one enters a competition with the notion that everyone is a winner no matter what. That's utterly absurd. People who enter a competition should understand, from the very nature of it, that there is a very good likelihood they will lose, because there can be only one, true winner. Second place is the first loser. People need to develop a thicker skin, especially considering they are actually asking to be criticized. Why should any fallout be tolerated, when that is the very nature of the event?

    So, do you want to improve? Ask for feedback and take what's coming from professionals who have superior skill to you currently. That's the purpose of this. And, whether it comes in the form of a live critique, or a ranking, that is what's happening. It's the same exact thing.

    People are going to feel bummed-out when they don't win, regardless as to if they are ranked or not. Right now, there is just a top and a bottom. But, if there is a ranking, at least the people in the middle can feel as if they are improving, if they are able to climb the rank. For this reason, I don't agree that a ranking would be arbitrary. Giving everyone a "score" based on set criteria is invaluable feedback. There is always truth in numbers. And, if not a ranking, how about simply grade each illustration on a scale of 1 to 10 and post that list? Then, there could be several people in each spot, from 1 to 10.

    The problem with arguments is that they "quickly engender strife and resentment?" Sure, if a person doesn't have the ability to set aside emotion and think rationally, I agree. But, I don't read your response and feel resentment. I don't disagree with you and feel angry. I carefully consider your points of view, ask myself if they change my mind, and if they do, great, if they don't, dismiss them and counter. I never feel bad about it. People need to learn to set aside emotion in conversations in which it simply does not belong. Emotion can be wrong. It can be based on incorrect information, incorrect perspective. There's no place in an intelligent debate for it.

    So, I don't think ranking results of a competition would "blow up" the community. Anyone who is so deathly afraid of having their feelings hurt, can simply not enter. But, for me, I look at the work of Will Terry and Jake Parker and Lee White and all the other instructors and say to myself, "Good God, their work is amazing! It is superior to anything I have ever done, I admire it, and I want to learn to be half as skilled as they are. And, when those who have superior work tell me what is wrong with mine, I am absolutely grateful for the criticism, never resentful in the slightest. They are helping me to become better at the craft I desire to become better at.

    Thus, if one of them says to me, "Look at this other contestant's entry, it's better than yours," I would try to learn from that.

    Finally, as for the judges hearing about it if someone feels his or her work was better than someone ranked above him or her, that's silly for anyone to complain about. People are asking for the subjective critique of the judges. They should therefore blindly accept it. Period.

    Bottom Line: If the instructors don't give everyone some kind of score or feedback, they are left wondering why they were not chosen above the others. Thus, the value of a ranking, or score, clearly has benefits that outweighs the alternative of not doing that. Those who truly want to improve would gladly trade happy feelings and uncertainty for numerical feedback. It's something tangible, and I like that.



  • @Pixby said:

    @mattramsey Even if the process of determining a ranking were tedious (Let's say, for the sake of argument, it was), and? They're doing it only once month. Is it something worth investing time in, or is it something to only do half-assed? If the goal is to have this little community take the competition seriously, then shouldn't the instructors, too, take it very seriously?

    I would say: they are already investing time in it. A lot of time. I would be surprised if it wasn't already, as the system now stands, many hours of work. Ranking all (in this case) 45 entries would add many more hours.

    As for your notion that, qualitatively speaking, why is #23 not #25... the judges must do this in their minds anyway. Sure, they're only picking a top 5, ultimately. Yet, they are still separating those out from the rest.

    I just don't think they are going through each one after the top few and ranking them. It's probably more like: these 3-4 are about the same and "better" than these 5 - 6, which are in turn better than these 3-4 and so on. But it might not even be THAT in depth. It might be that after the top strong ones they, as professionals, see the rest as all needing improvement (perhaps in different areas) equally

    How does the last ranked person feel? Terrible, I'm sure.

    Ok, I agree with you as far as: this is a contest, we aren't all going to be winners. I just really feel that there doesn't need to be a last place on something like this.

    And, if not a ranking, how about simply grade each illustration on a scale of 1 to 10 and post that list? Then, there could be several people in each spot, from 1 to 10.

    I like this idea. But, for me, it is trumped by my first concern: many more hours of work for the judges who are not only doing this for free, but they are also giving away valuable prizes (in addition to the crits).

    I get the sense that you are not afraid of some "back and forth"/arguments. I feel like that shows you have intelligence and good character. So I'm glad I'm not offending you.

    Finally, as for the judges hearing about it if someone feels his or her work was better than someone ranked above him or her, that's silly for anyone to complain about. People are asking for the subjective critique of the judges. They should therefore blindly accept it. Period.

    I just don't think that is how it's going to go down. People won't blindly accept a #11 ranking if they feel like they were better than whoever got #10 (especially if the judges say, as they do, "it's really hard to determine the winners and we may get things wrong from time to time"). Nor will number 32 accept they are not 31. And from listening to Will and the rest they are really not out to hurt anyone. They take seriously people's hurt feelings. Except for maybe @Jake-Parker because he's a stone cold...just kidding.

    I'm not saying they are coddling anyone. But if they can create a system where people get the most feedback possible with the least amount of headaches for everyone involved then that's the goal. I personally feel a complete ranking system is too fraught with difficulties.

    As has been pointed out by @seanwelty they are taking time away from paying gigs on this. This is completely free and for our benefit, not theirs (though I'm sure they get all kinds of warm fuzzies and extra karma points).

    All that said, I'm pretty psyched about the 4-point proposed change @Lee-White mentioned. That seems like a good start and as @Will-Terry said, they can always tweak things down the road.



  • Really I am down with whatever change that allows for my work to be critiqued every month. Call me selfish 😉 @Will-Terry or @Lee-White can you make that happen?


  • SVS OG

    @seanwelty Greedy 😛 i just want one!! To start anyhow lol


  • SVS OG

    I don't really want to spend more words on ranking when an awful lot has been said already, but I will say this:

    Our instructors are all successful professional illustrators with limited time. That they choose to spend some of it on things like 3rd Thursday which is free, to help us up-n-coming artists, we should be grateful for.

    So, we need to make sure they spend their time efficiently. I don't think ranking everyone is a good use of their time. It might give you a place in the pecking order, but it doesn't tell you the most important thing - what should you do to improve? That is the million dollar question which most artists need a fresh eye to help them with.

    Art is a messy, subjective, personal thing. Sure, you can choose winners and assign people into rough groups of best, better and needs improvement. But grading it is not like grading a physics paper - it's a subjective choice with different opinions each time you ask someone.

    Whereas critiques are really useful to receive, and to watch others' works get critiqued - because you can see what is being suggested and how you can apply that to your own work. I never realised how useful they were until I joined SVS.



  • I'll address the idea of ranking all of the images. While I understand the merits of knowing exactly where you stand after being ranked - there are several problems with this as I see it. 1) The people at the bottom are going to feel like they got kicked in the teeth...really hard. 2) There's no way to get it right but it would send a message that we think we're right and that's dangerous to the person who might make life decisions based on our assessment. I've actually had someone drop out of illustration based on my first critique of their work on the first assignment in my Uni class. The person showed great promise but took my assessment the wrong way. 3) We just don't have the time. Trying to balance the SVS workload along with freelance, social media, personal work, youtube, speaking engagements, and shows is hard enough.

    But to be clear it's not a bad idea - one could gain a lot of information with a loose ranking system - there's a lot of merit in the idea itself.



  • I was not going to weigh in on the ranking idea but as someone who had been in the bottom half every month until last month I will say that it would have been devastating for me to find out if I was the lowest in the group. It was helpful to me to know that I was not alone and that I should work harder to get better. As a former teacher I always hated to give grades because it should be just about improvement and gaining knowledge and not where you rank with others!


  • SVS OG

    @Thrace-Shirley-Mears i agree with this! If i were ranked last, i would snap all of my pencils and sell all of my digital stuff! It would crush me and i would probably quit making art of any kind



  • @Lynn-Larson said:

    @Thrace-Shirley-Mears i agree with this! If i were ranked last, i would snap all of my pencils and sell all of my digital stuff! It would crush me and i would probably quit making art of any kind

    Oh you artsy-fartsy types...so dramatic.

    Then again, I'd probably do the same....


  • SVS OG

    I'd also like to endorse @Lee-White's solution above. Before that was all posted, my thoughts on 3rd Thursdays were as follows:

    Previous winners - I think it should be open to everyone, every month. I wouldn't want to "win" because the best artists have all been taken out of contention. I'd like to see what the best artists would do...even if there's less chance of winning, I can learn from them. And, it's not as much fun "competing" when you're ineligible...it feels like maybe you shouldn't take part. But I want to because it's fun, and interesting doing the same prompt next to other artists.

    Each month is different and there are so many good artists, good ideas here anyway I don't think you need to restrict it artificially - people have up months and down months, too-busy months and don't-connect-with-the-prompt months...

    I think Lee's suggestion solves this, but I'm letting my thoughts out anyway.

    I like 3rd Thursday because it's fun, I love the prompt and the competitive side of things..you need a bit of that I think because it mirrors what things are like out there in the real world.

    So yeah, one winner + honourable mentions sound good to me.

    I also like the idea of choosing pieces to critique based on critiquability/interest to the whole class...because the best pieces aren't always the most interesting critiques. They might overlap but not always... Plus it's great to help people on the edge of levelling up - if just a few suggestions can make a huge difference that's satisfying for everyone. And it ensures that anyone in the group can get a critique....which I think will keep everyone motivated to keep entering.



  • @mattramsey

    To say that the instructors are doing this for free is a bit naive, and not accurate. While I certainly believe that they enjoy giving back to the illustration community, and applaud them for it, 3rd Thursday is, at its heart, a marketing methodology for the SVS business. It is a mechanism for growing interest, and revenue, in the endeavor. And, I think it's a good one. When I have more time, I'm certainly going to subscribe and begin working through the courses. The monthly contest has me interested in doing that. You betcha. But, this is not a black-and-white benevolent donation of time on their part. I don't think you really believe that. Professional illustrators spend what, 30-40 hours on a single illustration to make it great? Sometimes more? Hence, to make something else similarly great, it takes the investment of time.

    @Thrace-Shirley-Mears
    @Lynn-Larson

    I'm absolutely shocked that anyone would be this overly-sensitive when asking for honest feedback. It would really devastate you to see your name at the bottom of the list? Wouldn't it motivate you to do better? See, for me, it would only make me want to work harder. I was once an elementary school teacher myself. Never had a problem giving out grades. Students need to learn that in life, not everyone can win at everything. I deplore watching school sports competitions in which all the kids are given trophies, even if they lose. It demeans the achievement of the winners, and mistakenly teaches the losers that there's always a consolation prize in life. Not so.

    Okay, so you don't want to see your name on a ranked list. How about you don't look? Or, request that your name be kept off? Or, the list doesn't need to be public. The contestants could be simply notified of their rank privately. That would avoid all arguments too.

    Of course, in the end, I can see that there are many people who dislike my suggestion. As such, I humbly withdraw it from consideration 🙂



  • I like the new plan. You know I have been doing this just to improve and get a chance to be critiqued because deep down inside we are not secure about our work that why we are here. I really don't care about ranking, however I am going to do this till I hit my goal. Cross my fingers for the new plan!



  • @Pixby 3rd Thursday is a marketing tool for us - but it's a fun one for us as well. If we thought that spending the extra time to rank each person would have a net benefit for the majority of participants we would spend that extra time. My fear is that it would implode 3rd Thursday. We're all on different paths and at different stages on our paths. The further along one makes it - the tougher the skin and desire for more and more honesty in critiques. Many of our participants just aren't ready for that kind of honest reality yet. When we offer paid critiques we have a conversation with the artist and sometimes they request more feedback - more honesty - and with that invitation we're more confident in giving a higher dose of reality.

    Art is a tricky thing because we're pouring out our soul in visual form. Nothing hurts more than when you feel like people don't appreciate who you are.

    Like I had stated before - there would be merit in a ranking system for many - mostly the people not at the bottom..."well at least I'm not as bad as__________" ...but __________ will probably put away the pencils and never return. I've seen it happen too many times in my years of teaching.

    I myself was quite fragile in my early college years and thought of quitting a few times - I wonder if I would have if the teacher ranked all of us in the class? But on the flip side I probably improved the most when my feelings were hurt by brutal honesty...and I didn't quit.

    Thank you for the suggestion Pixby - there are no bad suggestions and like I mentioned before we're all trying to figure out what will help the most amount of people and we don't have all the answers...


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