Participating in Challenges

Starting with some eye candy, one of my entries for the June challenges at
This Layout page was made with the free kit I received from Scrap Matters for being a member of their community. How awesome is that? 

Challenges…are….well…a challenge. When I first started digital scrapping, I steered clear of challenges for several reasons. I was intimidated by all the superb digital scrappers that participated. That has been the case for every craft/art that I’ve been involved in. I just didn’t have the confidence in my abilities. I reminded myself of the rewards I’ve received in the past for overcoming my fears and decided to take the plunge and enter a digital scrapbooking challenge. I’m so happy that I did!

The benefits to doing challenges are many. You learn something from every single challenge you participate in. Many are technique based and will require you to step out of your comfort zone. These are my favorite challenges. Some challenges offer free kits or other goodies just for participating. Template challenges will give you free templates to use for the challenge. At most places, you’ll earn points towards credits on future purchases. Some stores offer gift certificates to scrappers who enter every challenge offered at their store.
Most digital scrapbooking stores have galleries and forums for their customers to participate in and share their creations. These stores will most often be the stores that offer challenges for their customers. Some designers will offer challenges on their websites or blogs as well.
Check out the rules for each challenge. Some of the challenges require that the challenge be completed using ONLY kits from that store or may require a percentage of the layout done in store kits. Some have no such requirements at all. Most require that you track entries in a forum or comment to get your credit and some will have specific galleries where your entry must be posted.
I think the best advantage to participating in challenges is getting feedback. It can really boost your confidence to get positive feedback from designers and customers of the store. This applies to all creative arts/crafts that you might be interested in, whether it is a challenge or competition. When I first started creating my customized fashion dolls, I steered clear of competitions. Although I received compliments all the time on my dolls, I honestly didn’t believe that I was any good at it. I would tell myself “maybe next year when I’ve learned more” or “I don’t do this/that well enough yet”. Finally, my main mentor, Bill Jones encouraged me to enter the annual BMMA (Barbie Magazine Makeover Awards) competition. At the time, it was THE competition for doll makeovers. Entries were posted in the magazine, with readers judging and voting on our work. Winners were posted the next issue. You cannot imagine the thrill I felt when I got that small package from Barbie Magazine with the letter of congratulations and a pink ribbon for 2ndplace. Bill Jones justifiably took 1st place. I have won many 1stplace awards for my dolls in a variety of competitions since that first one, but that 2nd place ribbon remains my favorite.
This is the doll I entered for that competition: 
 The following year, I took first place for this one:
The positive feedback that I received for that first entry fueled my desire to keep getting better and better at what I loved doing. I get the same boost when I receive positive feedback in challenges.
Challenges and competitions do require that you show your work to others. Sometimes, you just have to put your work out there for others to see and give feedback. It can be very scary at first and rejections can feel devastating. Just remember that not everything you do will be liked by everyone. Keep in mind the work you’ve done that got rave reviews in the past and focus on that. If you haven’t received any yet, think of the rave reviews you’ll receive in the future when you apply what you learned! DO learn from the negative feedback so you don’t repeat your mistakes. 
Just like in elementary school, feedback, good and bad contributes to our knowledge and abilities.
Now go out there and show off!  Participate!
As always, Happy Crafting

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