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It seems that contests tend to sell work for much less than they would be sold for in the open market so I wonder what is your take on this?
Is it worth it for the exposure? did any of you get any work leads following a contest?
You need to be more specific about what kind of contests. There are many.
For Example Design challenges on Deviant Art or 3d Character building contest (Mixamo) where the winner gets a 1000$-1500$ reward
Yeah, contests backed by established and trustworthy companies are
your discretion, the only ones you should really watch out for are
jokers like this:
But if in doubt, ask the opinion of the users here.
If you want to do contests for fun/practice/possible exposure, go right ahead. Don't expect work leads to come directly from contests because it probably won't happen. But you'll generally get a few more people seeing your work just by participating, which doesn't hurt. Definitely don't expect prizes, especially not from things like DA challenges - even if you win those, the prizes may never be delivered. (I've lost count of the number of "prizes" I'm owed for various little contests and challenges... Not that I can complain because I owe some myself.)
Just watch out for contests where the host will own all rights to anything you submit, those tend to be scams. And use your best judgment with contests where you pay to enter - a few of the best known ones offer potential prestige, but they often aren't worth it and your money is better spent on more direct marketing efforts. (And some of the pay-to-enter contests are scams as well. Enter at your own risk.)
Thanks all for your words of wisdom.
Yeah the 'We own all the rights' is usually a telling red flag.