Art Contests: Unethical?


Hey folks. I've recently become aware of a situation regarding online art contests, and their unfortunate popularity. The general procedure "includes a solicitation of original design concepts, characters and content to be produced on a speculative basis by cartoonists, artists, motion designers, and animators."

The specific contest in question is being hosted by Sesame Street. All quotes in this post are taken from, and additional information can be found, here:



Motionographer and Cartoon Brew are accepting signatures to combat such practices. Please take a moment to review the situation and perhaps add your signature.

I adamantly agree with the thoughts expressed. If you would have asked me a year ago while I was still in school, I may not have been so enthusiastically against this. While you are in the school bubble, and hungry to build up your work, contests like these seem like a great opportunity. I participated in a number of them. Recently even. But once you graduate and are faced with the daunting task of supporting yourself with your art, your viewpoints on such matters begin to change. If you float around the web, you will notice A LOT of similar art contests popping up. I'm not saying the intentions of the contests are always malicious, but the people running these sort of things need to be questioned. Yet again, another situation where an artist's value is being undercut.

I tried to summarize the situation here, but follow the links for a nicely articulated explanation.

take care,
-francis

16 comments:

Saskia said...

I do wish artist would take a minute to actually *think* about what particitpation will do to their trade before entering in contests like these.

Lee said...

I agree entirely. A lot of "contests" like this pop up on craigslist to design logos for small businesses and things like that. My roommate had a heated exchange back and forth with someone who was hosting such a contest on craigslist. It is exploitation of artists. In the craigslist case they didn't really know what they were doing was wrong, but Sesame Street should know the value of fair business practices and artistic integrity.

Alejandro Gonzalez said...

ha..great video.

Anonymous said...

"It’s your contest, though and you are free run it as you wish. But you will do so without our participation."

There you go. Don't participate

Mr. Visions said...

Thanks for posting this man, I had a friend entering this contest, probably not knowing all the "details". That video says it all -

Adam Tamte Volker said...

awesome Francis, that video is frustrating to watch.

Francis Vallejo said...

anonymous: I would respond to you, but how can I when I don't know who you are?

Anonymous said...

Not everyone has a Blogger account, you know.

Francis Vallejo said...

....I'm looking at the comment section now and there's an option to leave name/URL.

If you have contradictory feelings towards a topic I post, awesome. I'm open to intelligently discussing it. But if you aren't prepared to stand behind your thoughts, why should I consider them?

Sorry for singling you out Anonymous, but you hit a big pet peeve of mine.

Marcelo Vignali said...

This video is really funny, but in a sad sort of way -- because it IS how vendors see our business.

For any artist reading this, NEVER work for free, even if the opportunity seems promising -- unless of course this is your own project you are putting together with someone you trust. Respect yourself, respect our industry, and respect your peers by not working for free.

This attitude from vendors isn't reserved for just small-time companies, I've even had multi-billion dollar companies ask me to do work on spec, and I told them if they purchased time on my calendar I would do the work.

This video is a great example that no other industry accepts what we give tacit approval of.

Thanks for posting this Francis.

Michael said...

Excellent work! As accurate today as it was 20 years ago. I wish it had been made then! Perhaps things would be better today. For a sequel, have the couple ask 5 restaurants to cook a meal, and offer to give "credit" to the restaurant they like the best!

Michael said...

Excellent work! As accurate today as it was 20 years ago. I wish it had been made then! Perhaps things would be better today. For a sequel, have the couple ask 5 restaurants to cook a meal, and offer to give "credit" to the restaurant they like the best!

Anonymous said...

Nice dispatch and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.

Richard Decker's Ghost said...

It could be worse. You could be a magazine cartoonist, where almost all work is speculative. Bob Mankoff, the current cartoon editor at The New Yorker, submitted ten cartoons a week for four years before they bought one. That's two thousand ideas and drawings for nought.

Fortunately, freelance illustration is a different animal altogether. As for the statement, "any artist reading this, NEVER work for free, even if the opportunity seems promising", all I can do is quote Brian Wilson, "wouldn't it be nice".

Francisco Galárraga said...

Hey Francis, maybe it would be better if you dont let anonymous comments here? It could be for the best... on the other hand though, it's kinda good to see/hear what type of people exist in the industry. Makes me feel better about myself. Thanks for the post!

Francisco Galárraga said...

(when i said "what type of people", i meant DOUCHES).