PE: Organizing Projects and Contests

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Astralseed's avatar

Projects and Contests are amazing ways to get more involved in the community and branch out to the community, be it that you are running the project or contest or that you are simply taking part in it or even helping out with it in any way. Below will detail some of the ways to better get involved with Projects and Contests.

Interview with Aeirmid

Aeirmid is well known within our community for running fun and out of the box Projects and Contests. Jade heads up Arts-and-Health, ran the Halloween-HQ contest this past Halloween, did a month long projecteducate on Photomanipulation, and has ran several other successful contests and projects just within the past year. As such I felt she was the perfect person to interview in this article.

How can members get their projects/contest seen so that more people will get involved with them?
OK my first piece of advice would be to partner with the CV in your gallery. We have a lot of connections and can help you gain visibility. Secondly, reach out to other groups and key individuals within the community. Consider noting key deviants (like those who are popular or really active in your community) and letting them know about the contest. A lot of times they will be willing to help you out. Third, be proactive with posting updates and reminders about the contest. Your watchers may see your contest and get excited, then forget about it. :XD: but having a reminder will keep it fresh in their minds. Consider adding it to your signature, for example.

What is important to include in the project/contest journal to avoid confusion from the community?
(1) The rules, in bullet format.
(2) The prizes, in bullet format.
(3) A BRIEF statement of what the contest/project is all about, or the "goals" of it.
(4) The deadline, in PST. I would actually put this in multiple places!
(5) A link to the folder where you want the entry submitted.
(6) If possible, an example of what an ideal entry would be (either a description or a thumb).
(7) Criteria on which entrants will be judged.

What are some common problems you've run into while running projects/contests and how did you overcome them?
The biggest one is unforseen questions. For example, someone might ask something that is a "loophole" in your rules, and it's really not fair to go back and fix your rules after you've posted the contest (unless it is something really blatant like, in photomanipulation, forgetting to require stock credits).
Another one is having too short a time span for the contest and not getting enough entries. I recommend 2 months for a large contest.
Another problem is people not following the rules and then spending a ton of time on an entry that you have to reject or otherwise disqualify.
As far as overcoming, I am not sure what to say. Really, you would just need to address the situation calmly with the member and explain how they have broken the rules. Consider letting them fix their error and resubmit. As I said above, it's really not fair to change the rules mid-game, so sometimes we have to go with the flow. I think that's the biggest thing about contests: there will always be an "uh-oh!" but as long as you are transparent about what's going on and why some things are not allowed, you should be okay.

Some people say that running projects/contests are a hassle, what are some of the rewards you've experienced in running them?
Yes, they absolutely can be a hassle! They are a LOT of work. But at the same time, there is a huge payoff. First, you will meet people from all over the community who you were not familiar with when you started. Contests are a brilliant way of getting exposed to new artists who have tastes and styles outside of your own! Also, I feel that contests promote community spirit. People get excited about them and want to be a part of them, regardless of how big or small the prizes are. I've seen contests where the prizes were no more than 100 points get dozens of entries, as people really like the recognition and the competitive spirit! :D Finally, contests are great for getting exposure. You deserve to be seen for your hard work, and this is a great way to have your work promoted.

How important is it to have good prizes when running contests?
Prizes are important . . . but unimportant. :P On one hand, having really big prizes can lure members into the contest-- especially more advanced / professional artists. For them, I have found that the greatest prize is exposure, but they also like things like tablets (for Digital artists) or painting supplies. On the other hand, as I said above, I have seen many contests that offer very minimal prizes get a lot of participation. I think that what it all boils down to is theme. Having a unique (but not so unique that it is impossible to meet) theme that resonates with a lot of people is what really makes or breaks a contest. I believe and have seen that huge prizes with a wonky theme that resonates with no one will not draw the crowd you desire.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for anyone wanting to run their own project/contest?
Plan early, at least a month in advance. Get as many other people involved as you can so that people have "buy-in" for your contest. Set judges in advance from people who are reliable and who you know will be impartial. Consider getting at least one judge from outside your gallery/community. Talk to the CV(s) for your community and get them on board; they can help support and promote your project. Believe in yourself and, most of all, have fun! :)

Getting your Project/Contest seen:

Success of a project or contest can rely on making sure it is seen by revelant people (i.e. people interested in the subject/cause/prizes or all of the above). There are several ways to help get your Project or Contest more seen by the people you feel might be interested in it.

Utilizing groups
If you are running a project or contest through a group, you can take a moment and note the groups affiliates to see if they might be willing to help advertise your project or contest for you, given that they are an affiliate they often share similar interests.

Another way to utilize groups would be to contact groups with the same themes/interests as your Project or Contest and as above, ask if they would be willing to help promote it for you. While not every group will be interesting in helping you with your cause, many groups are happy to help pass on the word if it's something their members are likely to be interested in.

Community Volunteers
Asking some CVs to help get the word out or maybe even judge for you etc can never hurt. CV's are here to help the community and we enjoy it. So if you'd like help with promoting, or with suggestions on how to get word out a bit more, key community members etc, don't hesistate to note a CV or two for that help.

Friends and watchers
There is no harm in asking your friends and watchers to help you with your project or contest either. People are usually quite eager to help in any way they can be it passing on the word, helping you come up with ideas, helping you judge a contest, offering a prize to the winners, etc. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Importance of Theme/Subject and the ability to work with it well:

Being seen is not the only key in having a successful project/contest. Making sure that your subject is appealing and something that participants can actually work with is also essential.

My personal preference is to leave as much artistic freedom as possible while still keeping to a basic theme. I've always felt that creativity needs space to breathe and by allowing that to happen you can get more diversity out of your entries while allowing participants to not feel all too restrained.
To be a bit clearer on what I mean by allowing as much artistic freedom as possible, I mean that you give a simple or basic theme or subject for participants to work with yet don't limit how they choose to represent that theme/subject, as long as it is clearly represented within their work, or limit what mediums they can work with etc.

A simple example of this would be to give the contest the theme of Elements (Fire, Earth, Air, Water) but leave the rest open ended. Photographers could easily photograph one or more of the elements, fan art enthusiasts can easily work one or more element into a fan art piece, etc, etc..

Time is essential:

I'm sure we've all seen contests which have had to be extended for one reason or another. If you are going to hold a contest or start a project it's important to use your time wisely.

Take time before you launch
While it may be easy to write a journal detailing what you want out of the contest or project, it's advised to take the time to speak with people who can and or will be helping you with your endevour. Using some time before launching to make sure you are well organized can go a long way when hosting contests or running projects.

Give your participants enough time
Remember that creating art, especially if you want it to be good, is not always done in a single day. Some artists take longer than others so it's good to keep in mind that you may need more time than you originally thought to allow everyone who wishes to participate to finish their piece. Asking some friends or your watchers what they feel would be an appropriate time span can be beneficial since often at least some of the people who will give you feedback will also participate and then you have a better idea of what you are working with.

Look at your calendar
Sometimes the time of year can weigh heavily on the outturn of your event. Are you planning on running it in the middle of midterms? How about in the middle of the holiday season? How many people will be available to participate during the time frames you plan on giving them?

Keep it simple:

Keeping things simple is usually a great way to go as it causes far less confusion and frustration in the long run. The more straight forward you are without adding any extra fluff, the easier it will be for potential participants to understand what will be asked of them and if they will or won't participate.

I won't repeat what Aeirmid has already put better than I can, but if you for some silly reason skipped the interview above, be sure to read it since it's full of great information that can be beneficial to anyone wanting to run their own project or contest.

Finding Projects and Contests to participate in

This article shouldn't just be about how to run a project or contest successfully, I think it's important to help users find the kind of projects and contests they wish to get involved with as well. Below I will outline a few places worth checking out to hopefully find what you may be searching for.

Community Projects CV
The Community Projects CV is a good one to keep an eye on. Generally this CV will help promote Community Projects or contests. Currently there is a vaccantcy in the Community Projects position so I'd keep an eye on communityrelations to see when it gets filled or if you think you are up to the task, apply for it here.

There are a number of groups that focus on promoting current contests or projects. Here is a list of groups which might be a good place to look around:
:iconcontests: :iconcommunityrelations: :icondaliteraturecontests: :iconmarepeatingcontests: :iconfella: :iconda-dictionary: :iconanothercontestgroup:

Another great place to find projects or contests of interest is to browse recent journals in the Journals> Culture> Projects category or in the Journals> Culture> Contests category. You can toggle between Popular 1 week, Newest, Popular 8 hours, Popular 24 hours, Popular 3 days, Popular 1 month, Popular All Time, and Way Back in each respective category to better find what you are looking for. Also, like any other category on deviantART, you can use search terms using the search bar at the top of the page within each category.

Astralseed, posting on behalf of the "Getting the most out of dA" PE Team; 3wyl | Astralseed | namenotrequired

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G-nesisK's avatar
Excellent article =D. Very good advice for those who want to make their own contests and projects ^^

With this account (separate from my main account, dedicated to the Fan Art) I want to focus on the Traditional Art and to perform some contests or challenges of this gallery more later, continue highlighting talented artists, etc. I think your advice will help me a little :). But I still have doubts about working on projects or competitions with CVs, I have wanted do it some time but I have not been able to either because their time as CV is over or they are very busy in their work. Currently there is no CV for Traditional Art gallery, that is why I know with who talk but l would like help... I would like to focus more on the community, of the community projects but I do not have much experience :(