Monday, September 20, 2010

Become a Huge Success With the Greatest Hype in the World!

Virtually all for-profit contest mills promote their "calls-for-artists" with hyperbole and very few if any legitimate opportunities do. I'm immediately suspicious when I get an announcement that uses superlatives.

For instance, I just got one from a person calling himself Maximillian Gallery -- I'm pretty sure this is a sole proprietorship w/o regular employees. It wasn't over-the-top hype, but enough to make me look further. As soon as I read "the purpose of this exciting competition," I could tell the main function of the contest is to turn a profit for the individual behind it. I've got nothing against profit per se, but I hate to see artists taken advantage of. The secondary purpose, it seems, is to launch a business selling reproductions. There are no cash prizes; instead, the winners get "A Limited Edition print," with five copies going to the artists. Not clear what kind of prints or what size. There are other, lesser, prizes, also consisting of services by Maximillian, such as being mentioned in a press release and having an image on the Web.

The email offers artists 40 percent of revenue from Speed Racer™ art sales (the contest is for images of that cartoon) and claims "additionally, art galleries/art dealers and artists may benefit with ongoing revenue from licensing and publishing opportunities." A sixty percent commission is high in any brick and mortar gallery. Max seems to be online only and is also charging artists to enter, which a legitimate selling gallery doesn't do. The business about licensing revenue may be true but it is in there primarily to dangle dollar signs in front of a naive artist. There seems to be nothing about how the merchandise will be marketed! Wow.

The site itself looks professional at first glance. Under the logo are listed Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris. A little investigation uncovers no evidence of Max's presence in any of those cities, so why are those words there? It wouldn't be to fool the casual observer into thinking this was a big deal international gallery, would it? The contact page gives a P. O. Box in Beverly Hills. It's safe to assume their only presence is online.

The total number of artists they currently represent is three, one listed under the site link that says artists and that same person plus two others under the site link that says licensing. Not confidence inspiring.

Monday, September 13, 2010

AOM--

hi!

I am not interested in a renewal of AOM. I find more valuable contests for my work through other lists available for free.
-KFL [after three-free issue trial ran out]

KFL--

Thanks for having tried AOM! We'll remove you from the list as you wish. Sorry it didn't meet your needs at this time, but please contact us whenever we may be of service.

Your "more valuable contests" may not actually be. We look at many more possibilities than we publish. We screen out those "contests" that exist primarily to turn a profit for the business owners that run them yet provide very little real benefit for artists or their careers. These are often referred to as contest mills or competition mills in the art world and they appear regularly on the free lists and are promoted heavily by direct email and through paid advertisements.

Such contests tend to accept most entrants -- a business strategy designed to encourage people to enter time after time. There is no real harm done to the artist who wants to impress family and friends, but serious art collectors or professional art dealers normally will shun the artist who has such contests on his/her resume.

Unfortunately, there are dozens of such contest mills, possibly hundreds. Some are tiny, operating out of a bedroom or home office. After all, you only need a computer and gallery software to run one. Some online gallery programs are entirely automatic, relying on the artist to enter the information, upload the images and make the payment, leaving the owner to sip Mai-Tais by the pool and chuckle.

Some of them are quite active and do a lot of promotion, often sending mass emails to artists whose information has been collected from the Internet through scraper programs (which gather up every name and email address that appears on a site with the word "artist" on it). Or they advertise heavily in some of the art deadline lists aimed at amateur and naive artists. Or both.

So look before you leap.

-B

PS: Just because something appears on a free list but not in AOM doesn't mean it is a contest mill or a scam. It may have missed our deadline or we may have overlooked it. When in doubt, contact us and we will give you our honest opinion based on research.