Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Beast Named Jury

Should you enter competitions?  If so which ones?  It's a tough decision when your trying to watch your spending.  Trite but true...you have to spend money to make money.  Entering competitions are rarely free and can add up to a hefty sum so it's important to pick and choose your competition.

Napoleon Boneaparte
One of my Five "Animals From History" pieces accepted into 3x3's Picture Book Competition

This summer I was extremely fortunate to get an email from Charles Hivey saying that five of my pieces got into 3x3's Picture Book Competition.  This was the same gaggle I entered into the Spectrum Call for Entries and the Society of Illustrators NY Annual show however I did not get accepted into either of the latter.

Elvis Petme

I don't take it personally if my work doesn't get chosen.  Every competition is juried.  All juries are different.  The work might not be chosen with one jury yet another may choose several pieces.  It's the nature of the beast named jury.

Migrowl De Cervantes

Research who uses the outcome of the competition.  Make an educated decision if it's worth taking the risk to enter.  If there is a handful of companies you have had your eye on that depend on the  outcome, whether it be a show, site or publication, then it's worth taking that risk.

Jizo Bodhissatva

If you get into a competition then chart your activity to see what it is doing for you.  If your obtaining new contacts, seeing spikes in your webstats, noticing more active email and social media requests then it's worth entering again.  The same goes for promotions, shows and conventions.

S. Leopard & Snowzelda Fitzgerald

If your unsure what competitions to choose then try several different ones.  See if you get any bites.  This method can be extremely enlightening if your unsure of what path to take in the industry.

You never know until you try and remember....an acceptance is so much sweeter when you have a pile of rejections in your wake.


Aimee said...

but how would someone know if companies they are interested in pull from a particular show? This is a useful post but I'd love to see more in depth information, your blurb said "juried competitions and which ones to enter" so I was expecting to see a list of more competitions…? and why one might be more useful etc? Anyway, love your work and would love to see a more in depth post about this topic.

Christina Hess said...

Hi Aimee,

Most of the competitions I take part in were discovered through conventions and workshops or long days hitting the book store shelves. Many annuals are leaning more towards ereaders so the book store route is not as time savvy as it used to be. Convention and workshops often have art directors drop in and the #1 question to them is always "How do you find your artists?"

Depending on what type of work one does will depend on what competitions to enter. To find out more about competitions in a specific focus I recommend researching artists that you like and see what contests they have entered.

For example, if someone is interested in licensing I would direct them to research artists like Amy Ruppel, Tara Reed and Kelly Rae Roberts. Once you find some artists see if they blog or list their accomplishments on their websites. Here you will find names of competitions/annuals. Many run workshops and online courses as well. This part requires researching working illustrators.

Also, start researching podcasts. There are numerous illustrators who have put together podcasts that feature art directors and other illustrators. Escape from Illustration Island is one of my favorites because of their diversity in guests. They no longer podcast but the archives are still available and legit. I listened to art directors who listed the ways they find illustrators. It was a very useful tool for me. However art directors move companies so you'll have to do some research to make sure they are at the same place. Google searches will turn up this info pretty quickly.

This is one way to start in researching. Unfortunately there is no end all be all of lists that we can use. If you need a place to start here is a list of some things to look into...

Communication Arts
Society of Illustrators NY & West
Spectrum (fantasy and science fiction)
3x3 magazine competitions

As for workshops and conventions there are SO many. Here are a few...

Surtex (convention with lecture series)
Any comic con. Check your local areas by doing google searches for comic cons.
Society of Children's Annual Convention (more info on their website...look below for full name)
The Illustration Master Class

Helpful Podcasts...
Escape from Illustration Island
Chris Oatley

Also, if your one who gravitates towards children's illustration the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators website is a great place that answers pretty much all of these questions for that particular industry.

As you can see there are so many directions to go. Good luck and I hope this answered your question.