The other week, Cartoon Brew featured a post about a competition then being held over at online clothing site, Threadless. The gist of it is that people were asked to submit their design for a new Donald Duck T-shirt with the winners having their design made into an actual article of fashion.
This is a great idea, but there seems to have been little discussion about the significance of such a competition. Beyond simply crowdsourcing a design.
Professional designers may decry the blatant use of free labour in order to obtain a design but that is overlooking the many benefits there are to be gained by both sides.
First of all, it’s proof that Donald still has many, many fans, and that they’re willing to use their talents for his benefit. Through 12 pages of designs, there are a few bad apples, but the vast majority are something that I would love to wear (see the three examples, this post)
Secondly, the official sanction from Disney is good in that the winner is (or rather ought to be) guaranteed a fair deal for their work. OK, so it’s not like they were commissioned in the traditional way, but the winner should be adequately compensated for their work. While everyone else is out of luck, they at least have used an opportunity to stretch their skills and can still use their design in another place.
Via: ThreadlessHow many times do we see smaller (or even larger) studios encouraging and cajoling us into buying merchandise that they think we, as fans, want? Why not let use tell them what we want and let them sell it to us? (It’s a bit crazy I know, but right now that’s essentially what Hollywood does with its films).
Competitions like the Threadless one build good relationships between the studio and the fans by giving them a hand in the game and making them feel as if they are valued; a tactic that Adventure Time has done since it’s beginning to great success.
While care must naturally be taken, there is no reason why studios can’t interact more with their fans in this way, especially since the rise and ubiquitous use of the internet has broken down so many barriers to communication.
Fans have and will continue to be, the lifeblood of studios large and small, and the sooner we see closer collaboration between the two, the quicker both sides stand to benefit.