paying for competitions, is it worth it?

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  1. #1
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    paying for competitions, is it worth it?

    So I noticed there are alot of juried competitions or even great books like Spectrum that charge fees for submitting artwork for consideration. I've seem most of them range from $10-40 per artwork. There are alot of other great books/competitions that don't charge anything to be considered. Fees like that would add up pretty quick and you may never see any returns.

    Are these even worth it?

    Does anyone participate in things like that?

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    For me, Spectrum has been the best advertising money can buy.
    The exposure is more substantial, and the demographic more targeted than anything else I can do with $20.
    Plus, you get a free copy of the book ($30 value) if you get in.

    Though, like all forms of advertising, it's possible you'll get nothing in return at all for your money.
    Personally, I am a firm believer in it, and always set aside a yearly budget for many various forms of advertising.
    Even if I don't get a job from it, I still get name branding.

    - Dan Dos Santos
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    Good point, I like the idea of having a set budget per year for it. Since I'm still a broke student, I'll hold off on them till I have steady work then make a budget for it.

    Edit...Dan...wow, just looked at your portfolio and that homepage image took my breath away, you just got added to my short list of artwork to aspire to. Sorry to get off topic but is that traditional paints?

    Last edited by Amber Alexander; October 30th, 2009 at 02:59 AM.
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    When you buy advertising you are guaranteed exposure. When you enter a competition and pay the fee you may not get accepted. You're paying just to enter and most places won't return the fee if you don't get in, so there's a good likelihood you'll be out the money. If you want advertising, buy advertising. Paying fees with the risk of not getting in is like playing a lottery.

    I personally feel that fees are unfair. The expenses should not fall on those who enter but through the funding efforts of the event itself. They should be the only ones raising the money and not make it a "pay to play" situation, since most artists have to struggle to afford it. There are a few places that charge little to nothing to enter and still manage large prize awards or gifts. Some fees can be very high, even up to $100 or so for just one piece, but most are in the $10-30 range.

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    It depends on the competition. Those that have a good reputation and distribution in the markets you are interested in, yes. You also have to judge whether you have a reasonable chance of getting in, both based on the quality of your work and the stylistic focuses of the different competitions. For illustration, the big ones are the Society of Illustrators Annual, Communication Arts Magazine's Illustration Annual, American Illustration, and Spectrum. Art Directors pay a lot of attention to these. For some, the juried annuals are their main source for finding new people.
    EDIT: If you are a student, don't forget the Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition.


    Tristan Elwell
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    @ Amber:
    Thanks for the compliment.
    And yes, it's all traditional oils on board, with the exception of 2 pieces (boy w/teddy bear and a MTG card)

    @ dbclemons:
    The trouble with just paying for advertising is that anyone can do it.
    If you look at 'page rate' source books, you'll see a wide variety of work, ranging from amazing to god awful.
    It's because you pay to get in... The criteria is money, not talent.

    By paying for a juried competition, you stand the chance of being in a book with a MUCH higher standard of quality.
    That high standard makes it a more value resource for Art Directors to browse through, since they know it's all going to be professional quality.
    Whereas searching through most 'page rate' source books is like panning for gold.

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  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSillustration View Post
    ...The criteria is money, not talent. By paying for a juried competition, you stand the chance of being in a book with a MUCH higher standard of quality...
    My point is paying for it and getting nothing back. I don't even have a problem with paying, but don't take the money and run. If they take money without giving anything in return then apparantly money is what they place a higher value on also. At least send the losers a lousy t-shirt.

    There are low quality gallery owners and art agents who charge the talent for their services, but the best of those will tell you that that is not how it's done. Funding should come from the supporters, not the talent. Why should these publications or events behave differently? If they insist on that policy, then they should only charge those who get accepted. If they're looking for donations, then that's what they should call it.

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    If there was no cost to submit work (say, to Spectrum), can you imagine the sheer volume of amateurish work that they would then have to weed through to get to the serious, professional artists? In a way the entry fee is a great filter for the publications. If every anime-obsessed n00b on DA submitted to Spectrum, they would never get through all the entries.

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    I can assure you that, of the competitions that I listed, none of them are money-making ventures. The entrance fees are what makes them financially viable, and without them none of them would probably continue, at least not in their present form.


    Tristan Elwell
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  15. #10
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    Things of quality cost money. There is no way around it. The reason, as Noah, Elwell, and DSIllustration said so well, is that those making money with their work, or those who are serious about trying to turn their skill sets into a career are going to spend money to make money. Dollar to dollar ($25-$100) for various competitions is an incredible value, considering the cost to take out a page in a source book, or similar. Paying to enter makes people consider the decisions that they are making very carefully. Even amongst the best artists, they must choose which images stand out amongst the work that they produced for the year, which must then vetted.

    It is important to note that organizing events, especially competitions will cost money to produce, if they are done properly. Bringing in a jury, collecting and organizing the work, publishing a periodical (note that all of the major competitions produce a publication showcasing the work), advertising the publication, putting together a show, paying rent on a location (in the case of the Society of Illustrators), is exactly what makes the competitions worth the money that you spend.

    It is a good idea to set a budget, look at the other work being shown in that group, and try to be honest with yourself about how your work stands up next to the competition. This can only be relegated to the level of a lottery if your work isn't competitive in the first place.

    Enter competitions frequently if you want to be competitive and noticed in the market.

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