Lloyd Metcalf is an illustrator, creator of some stunning images. He’s also pretty smart with regard to business, and how creatives make a living.
As in, getting paid for the work we do.
He has a great post on his site about avoiding a particular illustration contest. The contest he names has rules that give the contest organizers the rights to the entries.
Basically only the winner will get paid. Meanwhile many skilled but unwary illustrators are effectively giving away the license to their works.
As I’ve gone on at length about (here, here and here), a New Zealand writing contest does something similar. Their terms and conditions effectively give the contest organizers the right to publish any entry without payment.
In the context of Lloyd’s experience, though, this is minor. It seems that the illustration contest is run by a subsidiary of a major toy and game manufacturer, with its hands in movies and other media.
Imagine giving away the rights to your design and finding it turning into the next Transformers or My Little Pony or Pokemon.
All I can suggest for creative people is to read the terms and conditions. Read them. Understand them.
With creative work, we license. That license should be fair.
Take care out there.