Journal Entry: Fri Feb 8, 2013, 5:09 AM
Yep. You read it right… Losing an art contest can be very beneficial to you as an artist, because…
You know what? Before we get there, let me take a step back and start at the beginning.
The reason I decided to write this, is because there's this "Tomb Rider Reborn" contest going on DeviantArt, and there have been other contests in the past as well. And whenever I looked at the comments on the contest's announcement page, they seem to be divided into 2 camps – those who really like it and want to join in, and those who really don't like it, because "only a certain medium can win at this", or "the judging is unfair", or "I would join but I'm not good enough"…
And it seems to me that most of these negative comments (and some of the positive ones) are born because people seem to see a very limited part of the contest. They see only the competition for the prize…
Now is the part where you say: "But that's what a contest is, isn't it? People competing for the winning spot and the prize"!
Well, yes. But! A contest (like most things), has much more to it than meets the eye, and can be used for quite a few more things except winning prizes.
So here are 3 benefits you can get from an art contest, even if you're not going to win:
1. Exposure – Be it on DeviantArt or outside of it, contests usually have galleries where all entries are submitted and displayed to the public, sometimes for just a few days, and sometimes for the entire duration of the contest.
That means that, depending on the scope of the contest, just by submitting an entry, regardless of its quality or medium, you expose your art to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people. There's a good chance that among those people there will be some who will like your art and want to see more of it. Possibly even pay for it…
In addition, your art is seen by the issuer of the contest, who can be a very prospective client. In the "Tomb Rider Reborn" contest, for example, it's Square Enix Ltd - a multimillion dollar, international game development corporation.
Even if your art doesn't win the contest, they might still like it and want to work with you!
2. Practice – Obviously, to submit an art piece to a contest, you need to make it… And that's practice of your craft in and of itself. But it is also a good practice of doing a commission/order type of work, where you create something according to guidelines given to you by someone else. These may be general guidelines, like "Draw your vision of Lara Croft. Don't make her look like Angelina Jolie" etc, or more specific ones, like "Draw this character with this specific story, these powers, in this setting, only in digital media and only using tones of blue".
Knowing how to create your vision of something that has specific guidelines is a skill in and of itself that is worth practicing.
And, of course, there's also the skill of working with a deadline…
3. Motivation – I will explain this one with a personal example:
The previous big contest on DA was "Train Your Brain", where you could submit a piece in 5 different categories with 5 different prizes. I went for Illustration, and decided to make a comic page, which was one of the options.
Even though I entered the contest for the exposure and for practice, when my piece didn't even get through the first round, I was disappointed… I felt that I can do better.
So now, for the Tomb Rider contest, where I'm actually interested in the prizes too, I feel motivated to take my art to the next level, master up all of my skill, and try some new things, to make the best piece I possibly can!
That feeling that I can and should do better, which I got from losing the previous contest, is what pushes me to better my art.
I'm sure that if you open your eyes and look, you'll find even more benefits you can get from a contest, even if you lose. And that's actually true not only for contest, but for pretty much anything in life…
Most successful people I've heard about really appreciate failure, because of how crucial it is for success.
So open your eyes, look around, and seize the opportunities to lose and get all the benefits!
- Andrey Krichevsky