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May 24, 2012
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dA Life #08: Hosting a Contest on dA

Thu May 24, 2012, 1:50 AM

Welcome to the eighth dA Life blog, a series created to help you enjoy your time on dA and use it's many tools for sharing your art, appreciating other people's art and taking part in the wonderful community that we have here.

Hosting a contest on dA is a really fun way to inspire other artists and do something positive for the community. If you've never run a contest before, it can seem like a daunting task so to make it a little easier, here are some things to consider before you create your contest and open it to the deviant public...


Your contest should have a theme. It can be as vague (Aliens, Summer, Cats) or as specific as you like (Alien Cats in Summer). When choosing your theme, take time to consider it's appeal to your potential entrants. A less specific theme is likely to attact more people as the scope for entries is wider. It depends on whether or not you want your contest to be huge - sometimes, bigger isn't always better. It's up to you!


Make sure you state what mediums you'll be accepting as entries. Is your contest for all mediums or is it just for photography, for example? Again, you might wish to be more specific about this. Perhaps your contest is for digital art created with dA Muro, or traditional art created using oil pastels. Maybe you're not so fussy about HOW the entries are created as much as their style, for example you might accept any medium but the style has to be Manga-inspired or it has to be a self-portrait. Again, consider how wide the appeal is and how this relates to the number of entries you're likely to get.


Be as specific as possible about the start date and finish date of your contest. You might choose to accept new deviations only. In that case, say what date the deviation has to be created after rather than simply 'new deviations only', as this can be quite ambiguous. When setting your end date, remember that having a very close deadline can leave people with too little time to create something amazing but having one too far in the future can result in the contest losing momentum or people forgetting about it. Some people prefer to set a limit on entries, like The contest will end when there are 100 entries. If you choose to do this, be realistic about the potential size of the contest and how many entries you're actually likely to get.

How to enter

So, someone has seen your contest and created a wonderful piece of art for it. Now, how do they send their entry to you? If it's a contest run by a Group, you may want to set up a gallery folder specifically for your contest so entrants can submit their work there. If you're running the contest as an individual, you could invite people to submit their entries by note and then post them all in a journal entry or add them to a Collection you've created. If you want people to mention the contest in the Artist's Comments of their entry, it's a good idea to provide some text for them to copy and paste. The easier it is to enter your contest, the more people will do it correctly.

Who can enter

This isn't as relevant for contests run by individuals as it is for contests run by Groups. You may limit your contest only to members of your Group or you may wish to open it up to members of your Affiliates, or anyone on dA. Don't forget to set the relevent permissions for the contest entries folder in your Group gallery!


Prizes are good. They give people added incentive to create something awesome and enter your contest. Subscriptions, prints and Points are all fabulous prizes but remember that journal features and custom creations (like personalised icons or journal CSS) are also great. If you can't supply all the prizes yourself, you can ask for help with this by posting a journal or a poll requesting donations, or opening a Donation Pool on your page. Please remember that anyone donating a prize to your contest is doing you a favour! Don't make demands and if you are going to contact people personally to ask for prize donations, please be polite and don't expect them to hand over things that they need to pay for. While some people will be happy to do this, it's rude to expect it. And it should go without saying that you shouldn't contact strangers and ask them to donate to your contest simply because you've noticed that they tend to be quite generous by nature!


There are so many ways to choose the winner(s) of your contest! You might want to choose the winner(s) by yourself (like if your contest is to design a new Journal CSS or icon for you) or you may prefer to select a panel of judges to help you do it. You could also create a poll, or a number of polls depending on the amount of entries you've had, but remember that you can't control who votes in a poll and people may vote with multiple accounts, skewing your results.

Clear, accessible information

It makes sense to have ALL the information about your contest in one place so you can easily link to it and promote it around dA. A designated journal entry is the best place to do this. This information should include everything mentioned above. The aim is for people to be able to locate every relevant piece of informaion in one go, then create and submit an entry to your contest without needing to contact you and ask for more information. It's also a good idea to include thumbs of existing entries, or examples of inspirational art, so people can get an idea of the kind of thing that's required for the contest.

Promoting your contest

There are lots of ways to promote your contest around dA! The easiest is to make a journal about it (see Clear, accessible information) and submit it to the Journals Portal under Culture > Contests as well as your own journal. This will maximise the potential for your contest being seen by as wide an audience as possible. You may also wish to make a poll (Are you going to enter my contest?) with a link and some brief information in the first comment. If people have donated prizes or you have a panel of judges assisting you, you could politely ask them to mention your contest in their journals. You could also post a link in relevant Groups or even in your signature, or you could make a promotional stamp (remember to include a link to your contest info in the Artist's Comments). If your contest is hosted by a Group, you could ask your Affiliates to help promote it with you. And don't forget fella! Send us a note with the Theme, End Date, Medium and Information Link and we'll share your contest in our regularly updated Contests and Challenges journal.

If running a contest with prizes doesn't tickle your fancy, there are other ways you can inspire creations-on-a-theme. You might want to host an Art Challenge - pretty much the same as a contest but there are no prizes. People enter simply for the pleasure of creating something and getting involved. This also removes the need for judging/choosing winners and deadlines can be a little more relaxed.


The eighth in the dA Life series of journals at #fella, on a mission to
introduce deviants old and new to fun stuff, useful stuff and downright
devious stuff to discover, get involved with and enjoy. The dA Life series
also exists to empower artists to use the amazing resources found at
deviantART to create their own deviously artistic experience!


#fella aims to be a welcoming space, primarily for new members,
providing useful resources and practical assistance from friendly,
approachable deviants, leading to easier navigation of the site and
an enjoyable, positive deviantART experience.

More dA Life?
Want more useful hints, tips and information to make your deviant
experience even better? Check out these blogs at #fella...

:bulletgreen: dA Life #01: Sharing Your Art
:bulletgreen: dA Life #02: Improving Your Art
:bulletgreen: dA Life #03: Browsing and Collecting Art
:bulletgreen: dA Life #04: Places To Go, People To See
:bulletgreen: dA Life #05: Art For All
:bulletgreen: dA Life #06: Dealing With Abuse
:bulletgreen: dA Life #07: Get in Touch and Get Involved
Add a Comment:
Pascua-Tanya Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your article is very interesting. It will be very useful for me when making a contest.

I have only one question. At the end of this article you mention the "Art Challenge" as a kind of contest without prizes. However, there are users that these challenges include prizes. At the moment I have no possibility of granting prizes as Premium Membership or Points, Featured only, so I would like to make my challenges without prizes. The prize is optional, right?
shanenopolis Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Wonderful article, answered all my questions! Thank you very much for this :-)
kkoorime Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2012   General Artist
This is probably off-topic, but this post reminded me of my experience back then. I won a group contest through a poll, but my prizes were given to someone else because the admin/founder checked the results on a later date (where additional votes suddenly appeared) and claimed that the other artist's work was on top when she announced the winner... despite everybody telling her that it wasn't the winning entry. The help desk couldn't be of help because the contest host is not a part of dA staff. It was a sad experience for me and I haven't joined another dA contest since then.

Reading this now, I think it would also be a good idea to talk about contest host / admin etiquette, since I rarely see any article discussing these things. dA contest are fun. To me, it encourages people to make art and it promotes participation within a community. You have written a detailed post regarding this and I, myself, am inspired to host my own in the future. :) I guess I just wish that deviants hosting these activities would be responsible on their own even if their contests are self-host and not funded by dA.
RockstarVanity Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2012
What a frustrating thing to have happened! An article about contest etiquette is a really good idea :nod:
Anoya Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2012   Photographer
Well written and very clear! :nod:
RockstarVanity Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2012
Thank you :hug:
miontre Featured By Owner May 25, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Great article, very helpful! :)
RockstarVanity Featured By Owner May 26, 2012
:hug: Thanks!
phoenixleo Featured By Owner May 25, 2012
Awesome article! :nod:
RockstarVanity Featured By Owner May 25, 2012
:tighthug: Thanks!
Add a Comment: