Your chal­lenge

Win­ning ArtS­ta­tion Chal­lenges give artists a plat­form to share and im­prove their work. Dom Carter asks if it sig­nals the re­nais­sance of the dig­i­tal art com­pe­ti­tion...

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Editor’s Letter - www.arts­ta­tion.com/con­tests.

On­line com­mu­ni­ties have changed over the years – can ArtS­ta­tion re­vive the age of the on­line com­pe­ti­tion?

When it comes to giv­ing artists an op­por­tu­nity to find work and con­nec­tions, ArtS­ta­tion is tak­ing the lead. “Founder Leonard Teo’s vi­sion for ArtS­ta­tion is that we solve real prob­lems for the artists and the in­dus­try,” says Daniel Wade, the site’s prod­uct man­ager, ref­er­enc­ing the im­por­tance of ArtS­ta­tion com­pe­ti­tions.

Launched ear­lier this year, The Jour­ney is a batch of con­tests that hark back to a time of gi­ant fo­rum com­pe­ti­tions. Split into 2D and 3D cat­e­gories, these six ArtS­ta­tion Chal­lenges in­vited artists to sub­mit

char­ac­ter, en­vi­ron­ment and trans­port art. “We didn’t want it to be Ground­hog Day with a fo­rum-based sys­tem, with all of those lim­i­ta­tions,” Daniel says. “So we started with a cus­tom-built com­pe­ti­tion plat­form, and added fea­tures that el­e­vate the chal­lenge ex­pe­ri­ence like Twitch stream­ing, 3D viewer sup­port, feed­back, pub­lic vot­ing (likes), so­cial me­dia in­te­gra­tion, and a sim­ple judg­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Tak­ing Part

Word of the chal­lenges spread quickly and at­tracted an over­whelm­ing amount of tal­ent. Pro­fes­sional il­lus­tra­tor Jean-Bap­tiste Monge, who scooped first place in the 2D char­ac­ter art chal­lenge, con­sid­ers the award a great achieve­ment: “Even at my level, noth­ing is to be taken for granted,” he says. The ben­e­fits of en­ter­ing ex­tend be­yond win­ning, though. “For younger artists, it can be a good ex­pe­ri­ence to see how you re­act in the face of stress and dead­lines,” ex­plains Jean-Bap­tiste. “The most im­por­tant thing is that you fin­ish the il­lus­tra­tion on time.”

Con­sid­er­ing that he’s been put off by huge fo­rum com­pe­ti­tions be­fore – “The sub­jects were com­mon and bor­ing” –

We didn’t want it to be Ground­hog Day with a fo­rum-based sys­tem, with all of those lim­i­ta­tions

Jean-Bap­tiste’s en­try helps cer­tify the qual­ity of the ArtS­ta­tion Chal­lenges. Layna Lazar, win­ner of the 3D char­ac­ter chal­lenge, agrees that the in­ter­est­ing brief at­tracted her to The Jour­ney, and hopes the con­test leads to, “More com­pe­ti­tions that have a brief­ing to cre­ate worlds and sto­ries rather than ‘make a thing’.”

Layna is also mind­ful of dead­lines and 3D work’s long pipe­lines. “Par­tic­i­pate in a chal­lenge that suits you best or is some­thing you want to be do­ing for the next few months,” she says. “At the end of it, you’ll have a great fin­ished port­fo­lio piece, and that’s al­ways worth it!” Hav­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent to work on was the driv­ing force be­hind Kait Ky­bar’s en­try, which tri­umphed in the 2D trans­port cat­e­gory. “Com­pe­ti­tions are like a per­sonal project that keeps you mo­ti­vated,” the artist says.

Like Jean-Bap­tiste, Kait is un­sen­ti­men­tal when it comes to the old days of mas­sive fo­rums and com­pe­ti­tions. “I only re­mem­ber slow in­ter­net, bad servers and con­fus­ing web­sites. ArtS­ta­tion is quite a good por­tal at the mo­ment, though.”

Ex­pos ure and ca­reers

The spirit be­hind the ArtS­ta­tion Chal­lenges fos­ters com­mu­nity-based learn­ing. And by grow­ing ar­tis­ti­cally within a sup­port­ive com­mu­nity, artists put them­selves in a po­si­tion to get no­ticed.

“Re­ceiv­ing an award gives you a lot of ex­po­sure and helps to make your name a lot more recog­nis­able,” says Wo­j­ciech Pi­wowar­czyk, win­ner of the 3D en­vi­ron­ment chal­lenge. “It’s a huge ad­van­tage when look­ing for work if some­one finds in your port­fo­lio an im­age they recog­nise. Even if some­one wasn’t lucky this time, show­ing a com­pe­ti­tion en­try in a port­fo­lio means that you’re be­ing proac­tive and seek­ing ways to get ex­po­sure.” For Ser­bian-based artist Darko Markovic, his lo­ca­tion means that ex­po­sure is hard to come by. “This com­pe­ti­tion was the best thing that could hap­pen to me,” he says, af­ter com­ing first place in the 3D trans­port com­pe­ti­tion. “Ex­po­sure is the main weapon when you have great work. No one will hire you if you’re hid­den in your cave, no mat­ter how good your work is.”

Hav­ing worked with film and games stu­dios for more than 30 years, Daniel has seen win­ners from these chal­lenges use their ex­po­sure to land their dream jobs. And af­ter months of plan­ning, he could fi­nally re­veal in May that ArtS­ta­tion has been work­ing with ILM to launch a Star Wars chal­lenge hosted by the stu­dio’s art di­rec­tors.

If ILM dis­cov­ers new tal­ent, then there may be op­por­tu­ni­ties for the artist in the fu­ture

“This is re­ally a first for an art chal­lenge on this scale with a ma­jor stu­dio and its big­gest IP, and we’re in dis­cus­sions with other stu­dios to run this type of chal­lenge in fu­ture,” Daniel re­veals. In con­fir­ma­tion of what the win­ners of The Jour­ney chal­lenges have been say­ing, he ob­serves that, “It’s not far-fetched to imag­ine if ILM dis­cov­ers new tal­ent, that there may be op­por­tu­ni­ties for them in the fu­ture.”

The fu­ture

ArtS­ta­tion’s new chal­lenges and fea­tures have cer­tainly gen­er­ated op­ti­mism and ex­cite­ment in the com­mu­nity. But where does ArtS­ta­tion go from here?

“I think on­line com­pe­ti­tions have a lot of prospects and I’m pre­pared to be sur­prised,” says Yan Yang, win­ner of the 2D en­vi­ron­ment chal­lenge. “I think we should lay em­pha­sis on com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­nec­tion be­tween artists. In this man­ner, no mat­ter what out­comes we get, we can al­ways ben­e­fit from the ex­pe­ri­ences.”

For Daniel, it all comes back to solv­ing prob­lems. With the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween stu­dios to find top artists only set to in­crease, this could lead to the evo­lu­tion of stu­dio-judged art chal­lenges.

“Stu­dios are al­ways look­ing for tal­ented artists, and the com­pe­ti­tion to find them is in­creas­ing. The abil­ity to see how these artists per­form on a dead­line – even sim­u­lated – will also be valu­able.” he says. “They would never re­place our com­mu­nity chal­lenges, be­cause the re­quire­ments are quite dif­fer­ent. Stu­dio chal­lenges will ei­ther be re­cruit­ment-style chal­lenges where stu­dios are search­ing for tal­ent, or pub­lic chal­lenges where the stu­dios want to give back to the com­mu­nity.”

To keep up to date with the lat­est ArtS­ta­tion com­pe­ti­tions and de­vel­op­ments, visit

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