I belong to several online forums, most of which are bear-related. A couple of days ago, a query was posted on one of these groups about bear contests. They were asking for opinions and suggestions as to how the contest should be changed. Naturally, there was a flurry of comments, most suggesting category changes due to the ever-evolving techniques that artists now employ in bear-making.
It quickly turned to needing categories for different classes of bears, in addition to animals of different sorts, then grouping them into different sizes and even different skill levels. One suggestion was that a "Master Class" be set up for those that had won awards in the past. It was mentioned that new artists to the field weren't comfortable placing their work against the more accomplished artists. Another view pointed out that a novice category might make new artists feel slighted. The category "Novice" may be construed as their work not being up to par to contend at the regular level. You gotta start somewhere, and the beginning is usually the best place.
Others suggested that photos of all of the entrants be published, and not just those of the finalists and/or eventual winners. Previous discussions have reached the screaming level because the magazines have gotten smaller and smaller over the years. Photos of all the entrants just aren't going to happen, in my opinion, due to the sheer cost of publishing.
For me personally, magazine contests just are not something that interest me. For years, I subscribed to the magazines, and year after year - the same artists won. How long does this go on before someone decides a change needs to be made? I think the time has come, folks. There are so many artists out there that have amazing talent that will never be showcased in these contests because they feel they don't have a snowball's chance against the people who have won so many times.
I have to admit I never weighed in on the discussion. Just seemed like a moot point. However, if I were to make just one suggestion, it would be this - Set the deadline for entries, and stick to it! It would irritate the ever living life out of me to work on a competition worthy piece, pay my money, and make the deadline as required by the rules, only to find that the deadline had been extended. I've seen this happen more than once. I just don't like it.