Design by Rachel Roellke | Funnelcloud Studio. Photo via Uncommon Goods.
One of the things that keeps me exercising and diversifying my creative skills is entering competitions and contests. I used to enter a lot of photography contests (I even won a few), but the recent trend to determine winners by the public's popular vote made me vow to never enter another contest that wasn't judged by actual judges ever again.
I get the reasoning behind picking winners by popular vote - in theory. The more people that like it, the better it must be. Democracy, right? Wrong. It turns out that design/photography competitions judged by popular vote are just popularity contests - not the popularity of the design, but the popularity of the designer. As in, who has the most friends, the most Twitter followers, the most reach on the internet? I think that's kind of lame. I also think it's lame to have to solicit votes from your friends. While I like to share what I've been working on, I'm not a fan of spamming my friends and family.
Also lame are the trolls who leave nasty comments just for the sake of being mean. I don't expect everyone to like my work, but these comments are unconstructive, hateful, and often left by people who don't understand the rules of the contest to begin with. I'm all for critique and constructive criticism, but as a general rule, if you spell the word "you" as "U" I don't respect your opinion. Also, didn't your mama tell you if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?
This isn't a case of sour grapes - I've seen nasty comments left on just about everything (which is why I would never post a video to YouTube) and when it comes to my design and photography skills, I generally accept that there are a lot of people better than me and a lot of people worse than me and not everyone is going to like my stuff. Art, design, and photography are subjective. I get that. Accepting criticism is part of being a designer. In fact, I embrace constructive criticism (Note: "tHiS dEsiGn SUXXXX" is NOT constructive criticism!) and believe that if a lot of people love what you've created and a lot of people hate it, you've succeeded. Design should touch a nerve and draw strong options. It should never be middle of the road. It should never be okay, it should never be meh. (This is something I am striving for with some new pieces for my shop in 2012, but that is a post for another time.)
Author J.K. Rowling says it better than I do:
Agreed! Anyway, I really didn't mean this to be a rant on contest politics or internet trolls. I wanted to share my work, a cool company, and some exciting news:
Image via Uncommon Goods.
When I saw that Uncommon Goods was hosting a Design Challenge this month, I knew I had to enter. Uncommon Goods sells some really fun, quirky, and unique items and even better, they often sell products that are handmade by artists and craftsmen. (These items are noted with a blue hand icon in their catalog and on their website. You can also filter your search on their website to only show handmade items.) Furthermore, they strive to be an environmentally friendly and socially responsible marketplace. Good stuff, right?
The Uncommon Goods Summer Picnic Design Challenge called for artists to design simple, single color graphics that will be stamped on disposable plates and cups made of sugarcane. Considering the extreme lack of well-designed/attractive/quirky paper plates on the market (Those grocery store ones that look like your grandma's wallpaper? We can do better!), I thought this was a great idea. I wanted something a little outlandish and came up with an octopus holding forks, knives, and spoons in his eight tentacles. I drew, I scanned, I photoshopped, and then I sent it in.
And in the first round of judging? The judges liked it. My design was named one of the 15 finalists. Hooray!
But now for the dreaded part: THE POPULAR VOTE. The popularity contest. The trolls and their nasty comments. The soliciting your friends and families and followers for votes. Ugh.
So, all I'll say is this: If you like my Octopus design, head on over to Uncommon Goods and vote thumbs up. Check out the other designs, too. Got some constructive criticism? I'm all ears. Have something mean and hurtful to say about my design or anyone else's? Keep it to yourself, please. (Not that any of my readers would be mean and hurtful - I'm lucky to have had very positive experiences with this blog and my shop and I know I'm preaching to the choir - I just needed to get that off my chest and now seemed like the right time!)
Thanks for listening, friends. I appreciate all the support.