Friday, June 1, 2007

Illustration Contest: Pro Bono DOES Work!

In my last post I wrote about an illustration contest. It is for a paperbook which will be published by a German literature print & online magazine called „spa_tien".
To find more participants I asked a few magazines, forums, blogs and illustrators where else I could post about the contest. I got some replies and suggestions. But then I was very surprised about quite some negative messages I got: Telling me that if I'll be making money off of this, so should my contributors. And no professional would participate!
  • First of all: I´m just helping the publishers of the magazine to find an illustrator. There´s no profit I get from this (except I do hope to get a free copy of that book ;) )
  • Second: The whole production is privately financed by the publishers. They do not earn a single penny from this. They all have their regular jobs and do this in their spare time! The book will be sold at cost.
  • So it´s all voluntary service - even by the authors who contribute to the magazine and the book.
Today I received a wonderful message from Alyson B. Stanfield from Stanfield Art Associates. She said that she would be happy to post about the contest on her blog this weekend. Thanks! I needed that to hold up my positive commitment for the contest.

BTW: I would be happy about more links and specially about some more participants! :)


martín said...

Can I link this to my blog? Please let me know.

ksklein said...

That would be great. I really do need some more participants for this to work out. Thanks!

Maybelle said...

I hope there will be alot of entries considering it's a great opportunity for evreyone!!! Hope everything turns out well and in your favor :)

Linda said...

What kind of artwork will you be looking for? Portraits of the various writers who contribute? Art illustrating their written pieces? More general artwork evoking the weblog concept?

THANKS -- Linda

Linda said...

Does the artist retain copyright to the artworks you use?

Thanks -- Linda

ksklein said...

Thanks maybelle.

Linda, I´m checking that out right now.

ksklein said...

@linda: The artist will retain copyright to the artworks we use.

concerning the artwork: actually the publishers are searching for more general artwork. they specially want to see different ideas by the individuaal artists. so any motives about literature, text, weblogs, writing processes, etc will be fine.
of course this free description makes it more difficult for the artists to come up with ideas, but there will be more space for creativity this way. ;)

John Reddinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Reddinger said...


In your previous post you specifically stated that the book would be distributed via Amazon and other booksellers. It may be sold "at cost" but that doesn't change the fact that you're asking for a service for free. When you ask this of PROFESSIONALS (i.e. Skilled and talented people who DEPEND on this work to make a living) you have to expect a backlash.
To go with my previous example, I wouldn't ask an electrician to fix my wiring for free. It would be a waste of his/her time.

John Reddinger said...

Also, don't you think this undermines all artist's work?
So many artists give work away for free that a lot of people have come to expect it. 20 or 30 years ago this would have been unthinkable.

Sorry about the multiple posts, and I'm really not trying to be a jerk here, but a lot of us feel this way and I'm just trying to educate people. Check out for more info.

John Reddinger said...

One more question--sorry!! :)

You say that it's being privately financed by the publishers. I assume this refers to printing/distribution costs and such.

Whay haven't you asked the printers to print the material for free? It's pro bono, right? What do you think would be their reaction if you did ask?

Teemu said...

In the light of what John has said (he has a point, though it may seem like he's busting your chops), you and the publishers might want to check out the Graphic Artists Guild's "Suggested Guidelines for Art Competitions and Contests" to avoid unnecessary flak and to make the competition fair for everyone.

Markus Hediger said...


I am one of the publishers being criticized in the comments.

First of all, some facts about literature magazines in Europe or more specifically in German speaking countries: Most magazines and anthologies published around here are not in a position that allows them to pay fees to their authors because they are financed privately. Those publications that do pay fees are financed by foundations or very rich people who use this kind of investment to lower their taxes.

Most authors and/or artists have exactly two possibilities to see their work published: 1) they have to pay to publish their work, or 2) not to publish their work.

Publications like ours depend on the enthusiasm and the money of people crazy enough to invest a lot of their time into it. Up to know we have always spent more money on it then we have gotten out of it.

This said, I do understand Johns arguments. We did discuss the question whether we should allow professional artists to participate in the contest. I didn't want to see them excluded because we also allow professional authors to write for our magazine. Among the writers who send us their work are some high profile authors - they didn't get a penny for their work from us and didn't ask for it, either. I hoped, their might be someone out there who would love to participate in a project like that for the pure fun of it - who shares our enthusiasm for art and literature and loves to help create a nice piece of art.

Last but not least: If you wouldn't want to participate in the contest, I'd understand. And I am sorry for all the misunderstanding I have created with this crazy idea of a pro bono contest.

martín said...

I guess I can compare this to television programs. If you don't like the show, you can change the channel to the show you like, but cannot ask to cancel the show cause you don't like it. Others might love it.
Here, in Argentina, to submit a piece of art to a contest in most cases to HAVE TO PAY. If your work is rejected you lost your money. And if you win, in the best case you get some money prize but mostly you get a website with your work or an exhibition at a gallery, but you had to pay. In this case I see no harm at all to ask people to submit their work for the magazine/book. One knows the rules and I LIKE TO HAVE THE FREEDOM to choose. I hate to work for free, but If I want to do it, can't I? What about doctors who work for free? Colaborations in newspapers?
If later our work is asked again and again it would be different, but I support this project as it is now.

ksklein said...

Thanks martin. I really needed a positive comment. :)

@all: Check out the new blog for more information about the contest.

arindamart said...

sorry, i couldnot stop myself after the multiple negative mails.its pity that such days have come upon us.before i read the negative comments i used to think that art is the only thing that cannot be sold like a commodity according to its weight, its size, material consumption etc.
your mother is ill, you decide to see a doctor .you don't take money from your mother for this idea, you pay the doctor or the medicine dealer for the material. you people has brought art down to a mere material like any household least artists on this planet should be mentally wide and broad.i strongly support the need of money and enough security in an artists life , but burgaining for that and comments against a noble idea is hated.with my utmost respect to their skills i personally request them to stay busy in selling their works(products) somewhere they wish.