If you’re one of the many artists registered on deviantART (dA), you’ll no doubt have noticed that during the past year, there have been various contests tied to upcoming films.
More often than not, these contests usually ask for submissions of artwork depicting characters from the film, as was seen with the contests that promoted Dark Shadows and most recently, Beautiful Creatures. Other times, they’ll ask for something symbolic, such as a representation of a childhood nightmare for the dA contest to promote Mama.
Internet campaigning is nothing new, as most films usually try to advertise through sites like Facebook with various apps and contests, through YouTube with systematically released sneak peaks, or even the classic method of banner ads and pop-ups. So why are some companies taking the more “creative” approach?
Aside from the obvious answers, it is this writer’s theory that the films promoted through dA are films that are specifically catered to the artistic crowd, seeking to capture the attention of an audience in the same way that artists like Pendleton Ward, Lauren Faust and even Andrew Hussie have built a rapport with various denizens of the internet.
On that same note, one must wonder what this says about these films. Are they the equivalent of fine art pieces that are only viewed and “understood” by the art community, or is this simply a marketing strategy to bolster box office numbers?
The answer itself is probably a bit of a grey area, as many of the judges of these contests are often important people who had a hand in making the film advertised, such as Guillermo del Toro judging the Mama contest, Tim Burton judging the Dark Shadows contest and even the original writers of Beautiful Creatures evaluating and judging the submitted artwork. This opens up another potential theory that may be factored into the appeal of these contests: talent scouting.
Ask any artist here in Utah, and they will tell you how hard it can be to get work anywhere. Some get lucky by getting hired at Utah-based video game companies or animation studios. Others support themselves through commissions while working a second job, sometimes a teaching job here at the college. Point being, the arts is a very crowded industry.
It’s because of this that people register with sites like dA in the first place, to find an audience and hopefully work their way into more stable work in the medium of their choice. It’s that drive to get noticed that these campaigns seem to thrive on offering an artist a chance to have their work shown to someone with clout and hopefully gain access to a much larger network.
It’s hard to say for certain what the next stage is for campaigns such as these, but as far as this writer has been able to observe, they have shown great deal of success, and many submissions are created and handed off with each campaign. While it’s not something that’s making waves in the way film marketing is done, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on as time marches forward, especially if you’re an art student here at the college.