I feel a little bad about doing this. So don’t take it as me calling out this specific company – I really want to hope and think they are well-intentioned but thoughtless of consequences.
They responded to my tweet, took down their initial contest tweet on Twitter, but when I went back to check the rules, they changed them. I made a difference! See updates at the bottom of the post… and remember, just asking a polite question can make a difference. I’m so happy now!
My grandmother, who loves my art and wants to see me succeed, shared a contest with me. At first glance, it looks like fun and something I could really be a contender for.
I immediately thought of the Icelandic Chicken I’d done a few years back and put on a t-shirt myself. I could do another thing like that.
But then, I went and looked at the rules for the contest, and they broke my heart a little.
Well… Maybe they at least give the artists and designers credit when they use their images? There’s no cash prize involved here, by the way: the winner receives a t-shirt (presumably with their design on it) and a gift card to the website. The losers don’t get anything at all. I went to their website and looked at their merchandise to see if they named the artists.
Sadly, also no.
So in essence what this company is getting for the contest is a lot of designs and art they can and will use freely, without even offering the sop of artist exposure in return. It is, as my sister sadly noted, not kind. Again, I’m not trying to call this specific company out here. There’s a reason the first thing I did, before even sketching ideas, was go and look at the rules for the ‘contest’ involved. I’ve seen this before. It is shockingly common. I don’t know if there is some legal sop they cling to, to justify this kind of treatment of artists. Quite likely, if only to ease their consciences. Or it might be that they really are devaluing artists so badly they think they can just take all the designs they like for free. Honestly, they would likely do better just to grab some clip art. That at least would be honestly and cheaply paid for.
What chaps me, though, is that contests like this one are publicity for the company. They could easily get graphics cheaply, via clip art or a freelance designer. Someone, in theory, is going to have to go through all the submissions they get from this, and that someone is presumably paid minimum wage, which is going to add up over several hours of work, to more than a single great graphic would cost to have done. At least they will make some money, even if the artists don’t. The company, though, gets the rosy glow of customer perception that they are doing something sweet and fun. It creates a warm fuzzy feeling in the heart towards the brand.
I hate that, as an artist, I have to be so cold and cynical towards stuff like this. I’d love to go ‘Aw! that would be fun!’ and do up a cute chicken graphic with fun lettering and send it in, knowing that if I didn’t win, at least I could repurpose it for another use later. Or if I did win, send the gift certificate to a friend who has so many chickens a few more would not go amiss. I hate that instead I knew I had to go look at the rules, and pour cold water all over my sister and grandmother being excited for me. To cast a side-eye at a company that may not realize what they are doing is wrong, and cruel.
It always sucks to have my rose-colored glasses snatched off my face.
This was their initial response on Twitter – and you won’t be able to find it, as they deleted the thread, but that’s why I screencap.
The new rules are much, much better! Yay!