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The Candle Problem and the Big Tee Challenge - What's the verdict?

When I saw this Big Tee Challenge, my first thought was holy shit, that's a lot of tacos. Then I remembered this video about the candle problem and incentives that I saw a while back and it reminded me of it. I know 18 minutes is a long time away from searching for the perfect gif to burn someone with, but it's worth a watch nonetheless.


In point form, he argues that problems with unclear solutions (that require creative thought processes) are on average less likely to be solved using a 'carrot and stick' approach, or in other words, large cash incentives.


Without meaning to seem ungrateful to Threadless for putting up this kind of cash, I merely think it's an interesting point to discuss, what are the actual chances that they'll get the next big tee simply by offering more money? In my experience, the best ideas either happen spontaneously while doing something unrelated or grow out of existing passions and interests. Whenever I actually try to sit down and think of a killer idea right then and there, I fail miserably. Surely everyone is already, all the time, trying to create the next big tee. I know I am. I guess the argument is, if it was for a hundred dollars or a million, I don't think my capacity to come up with the best possible idea would change.


On the other hand, there is the argument that cash rules everything around me, cream, get the money, dollar dollar bills y'all.


Watch this
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Morkki
Morkki profile pic Alumni

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. When people are offered large incentives it tends to block their creativity. Instead of letting ideas flow freely there is that thought of big cash filtering everything. A much better way of fostering creativity is offering an environment that makes creating fun. Most of the top selling shirts weren't motivated by big money, they were made for fun and out of love for the subject matter. A good example is the huge success of Stacy's It's Dangerous to Go Alone which was made for a community initiated pixel art challenge.

cmasse

Is there ever more than one print from a Threadless challenge?

I know there can be only one grand prize winner. I'm wondering about others just getting printed. The sponsored challenges often have multiple prints but I'm not seeing that for the Threadless themed challenges.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

Occasionally they will print multiples from the same challenge, but yeah, I'm sure they're only giving away one 10k prize here. What I'm not sure is how it's going to work if they end up with a few 'must print' designs.

cmasse

That's what I mean. It's not quite a candle problem but the one great design one prize model is a bit demotivating. It doesn't leave room for a second or third place.

cmasse

I do agree that money doesn't equal creativity.

It's great for motivating action but not always for coming up with solutions.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

Yeah, the analogy doesn't fit exactly. Still an interesting topic of discussion though. Let's hope the 10k inspires some artists that otherwise wouldn't consider subbing to get involved.

cmasse

Devil's Advocate:

Money rules everything!

The more money offered the more attention the contest will get and thus the more submissions. It's the shotgun method of design. Like the spray and pray photographer. Take a thousand photographs and at least one of them is bound to be good. Right?

It's not about your creativity. It's about motivating the masses and getting thousands of designs. At least one of them will be good.

Jordan_Bender
Jordan_Bender profile pic Alumni
melmike said:

Yeah, the analogy doesn't fit exactly. Still an interesting topic of discussion though. Let's hope the 10k inspires some artists that otherwise wouldn't consider subbing to get involved.

Have you seen some of the designs so far?

I'm working on something pretty great though. :)

MadKobra
MadKobra profile pic Alumni

oh man this is so true I'm totally blocked right now trying to find out which is gonna be the next big stuff and when I see some of my ideas i feel they are not worthy :/ anyway i guess that why is a challenge and won't be easy however I'm agree great ideas won't appear when you're looking for it they just manifest randomly imo

BlancaJP
BlancaJP profile pic Alumni

great ted talk - fantastic that we can now use videos on the blogs.

This topic is one that I would love to have a fun friendly but spirited and argumentative talk with a punch of people over a beer.

I agree with the talk how money works and doesn't work as an incentive. More businesses should keep this knowledge in mind and use it.

I also think that these big money rewards can motivate artist in to action and with out action there will be no creating.

I know this has gotten me in to big trouble here before because people are so fond of saying we do this for fun and that is so very true but at the same time sort of a lie. I'm not the best in telling my views in great words of wisdom so I stumble and get my foot stuck in my mouth more often then not.

Here is the thing why that doing just for fun is a red flag of anger to me. Would you spend your time and effort doing your designs and subbing them here if there was no money at all ?

To me it is more of an idea of fair pay and hope. I spend my time in hopes of getting a print so I could get fair pay for that work. While I have fun here talking to people and a lot of times forget that their could be money involved (that's why I do a lot of community challenges cause I love the interaction with people) While the people and fun is the greatest motivation to do better and more it would not survive without the underline hope for money and a big money reward can re-energize the community to action again.

So I hope lots of great artist will be called to action with this, but find their creativity regardless of the money.

what if we made this in to a community challenge as well ? a duel a war or ... something ? to gather around the designers and amp up some creativity. because I think this money should go to one of the fantastic long time artist that have done so many great designs but still have no prints or just one or two, but have been a great supporter of the site and the other artist that are here.

micheleficeli

I totally agree that a great amount of cash cannot make the next best seller here, and I also was wondering why threadless do this sometime (they did something similar before), since i think it may be counterproductive in their behalf, but maybe they're not loosing anything in any case because a printed tee always lead to great sales, much more than 10k bucks. So we can see this bigger reward just as a thank to the community that actually keep the site alive, but actually it's limited to the "offering part" of it, since just one person is going to score it in the end. Then maybe threadless is not actually searching for the next big tee, since it's quite internet magic's fault to decide, just found a way to reward 10k$ (as they did sometimes) and have more people getting involved and discovering this place.

Btw, i totally agree that this won't motivate people to "think harder" on concept, but i support what Bianca said, about everyone here submitting just because of "the underline hope for money". Then, as it happens for most challenges, we won't see better results, just many more subs.

micheleficeli

Also, thanks for sharing the video, it was great to watch.

EZFL
EZFL profile pic Alumni
melmike said:

Occasionally they will print multiples from the same challenge, but yeah, I'm sure they're only giving away one 10k prize here. What I'm not sure is how it's going to work if they end up with a few 'must print' designs.

My Diver print got me 5k when it was chosen from a 10k challenge a few years ago. I know there were a few prints that were announced at the same time as the big winner... maybe they all received 5k too?

sweet n sour
sweet n sour profile pic Alumni

my first thought when I saw this was, oh look they've used Mister Mittens' Big Adventure (which scored 2.27) as an example, I wonder what the chances are of them picking a low scoring design as the winner? no fucking chance was my conclusion.

sweet n sour
sweet n sour profile pic Alumni

also the other examples were two fwf, dr who and link from zelda, classic!

thesimplyshit

Great thread!!! Can't wait to see those submissions !

cmasse
BlancaJP said:

This topic is one that I would love to have a fun friendly but spirited and argumentative talk with a punch of people over a beer.

Beer is a great motivator too. :)

BlancaJP
BlancaJP profile pic Alumni
cmasse said:
BlancaJP said:

This topic is one that I would love to have a fun friendly but spirited and argumentative talk with a punch of people over a beer.

Beer is a great motivator too. :)

indeed :) so more beer = more talk = more great designs !

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni
sweet n sour said:

also the other examples were two fwf, dr who and link from zelda, classic!

I was thinking about that too. Fact is, things that tend to become mega best sellers are often pieces using elements or pop culture characters that are already super popular. (There is an overall feeling that you can arrange your bellybutton lint in the shape of the Tardis and stick it on a tee and it would be bound to print somewhere, and sell like crazy too). Yet for a contest like this I would feel like a hack if I subbed a pop culture tee. (Maybe cuz I suck at them. Maybe if I could do those super popular mash ups I'd stop being so brave and righteous).

The RSA, TED and a bunch of other places have different versions of that theory that large sums of money actually inhibit success in all but the most mechanical and mundane of tasks - so when offered more money you will sort widgets faster, but you won't design better. That said, a large prize will make people perk up their ears, put on their thinking caps and put in as much effort as they can muster.

I'll be subbing one thing, which was already in the works before the contest was announced but I feel it fits the challenge well. I won't win. That's ok.

Bianca I totally get what you're saying about money. I do live in hope that I will get picked again at some point. I probably wouldn't sub if there was no money at all. I certainly would not have been drawn to this place to begin with if there had been no money offered. But on the other hand, if it were just the money, I'd have left a long time ago, since I haven't had a print in 3 years and there is no way to be sure that I'll ever have one again really. So yeah, it's hope of victory, but it's also more than that.

Long rant, sorry.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

Wow, okay. That's very interesting then.

The whole motivation thing is so difficult to articulate, and I somehow find myself agreeing with both sides of the coin. While I agree that the money matters, I have both a side-business and a full time job, so I don't 'need' it, and it never factors into my creative process, it's more of a pleasant consequence to a process I take great joy from. So yeah, I can't say it's a motivator for me. I really just want to make great art that gets seen by the most people possible, and I want to feel like I'm part of a community of like-minded people, that's why I'm here.

Like Lidija, I too will be subbing something I was working on beforehand, but knowing me, a new idea will probably jump into my head 2 days before the deadline (cough) lion king (cough), and I'll be forced to lock myself in my room for 24 hours.

Elma e Francis

I'll make a comment here to read it later, with goole translate.

PeculiarTiffany
PeculiarTiffany profile pic Alumni

I'm just going to sub a few things that I think are Threadless-y and have fun with it. $10,000 would be amazing, but do people actually submit thinking "Oh yeah, I totally got this." I feel like most are subbing with the thought process of "Heck, might as well." Because you can't win if you don't play!

mip1980
mip1980 profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

You wont win the lotto if you dont buy a ticket, that being said, the other day i actually received an email saying i had exciting news about my lotto ticket!!! Turns out it was just £10 :-( I am rapidly losing the will to live

P0ckets
P0ckets profile pic Alumni
3 designs submitted - Score now!

It's a moot point anyway, given my new jam:

I call it, Marracalicious

Wolfgang8885

Yeah I was wondering too. If they have a few prints, will they still print them? I am working on a design for the next Big Tee challenge, but even if i dont win it, it would be nice if it got a regular Threadless print.

If its worthy of course.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

If you allow me, I too would like to play devil's advocate...

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

Hahaha Baka I can totally imagine a number of people subbing with the thought of 'oh yeah, i got this.' :)

I have gone through the cycle of doing my absolute best, getting a killer score, and then not actually even printing (forget winning anything) enough times by now that my hopes are locked away in a chest in the attic. Sometimes at night i hear their muffled screams, that's when i stay up drawing till dawn.

i have a great paying totally not creative job, so money doesn't motivate me in the direct sense of 'i need it' (threadless is a poor get-rich-quick scheme anyhow). But i guess money is like quantified public admiration. Like, i am good enough to get 2000$ for a single drawing.

cmasse

I have a horrible job. Money is definitely a motivator but the end goal is to improve my art. If playing the t-shirt lotto gets me there, great!

That said, I'm liking the beer idea. A lifetime supply of beer ...

Morkki
Morkki profile pic Alumni

Money motivates but it doesn't inspire

cmasse
Morkki said:

Money motivates but it doesn't inspire

Which brings us full circle to the video's message.

But, what about the advantage of extra attention. In the video he's talking about running a business, not an online contest. The implication is he has a limited number of employees. Threadless has access to a world full of artists.

jeffreyg
jeffreyg profile pic Staff

Great discussion here, dudes. I can definitely agree with you guys on some points.

Also, I'm sure there will be a few prints coming out of this.. but unfortunately, only one grand prize winner.

Just have fun with it! :p

jeffreyg
jeffreyg profile pic Staff

Also, that is one of my favorite Ted talks

BlancaJP
BlancaJP profile pic Alumni

Hahaa cmasse that's a lot of beer!

all I'm really saying is it doesn't have to be one or the other. It can be both.

Because everyone here is in a different place job, money and life wise it just feels arrogant and rude to look down on the ones that are hoping to get the money or little money or just see that it is better to play the T-shirt lotto and have fun and get better at art while doing it, instead of just having fun with no money ever.

So I'm glad people here are in places where they don't see the money to be what they need but I also don't hate the ones that see that they really could use the money and it is at least a part of why they are here.

I just like taking the middle of the coin with both side fun and money with no expectations of ever getting anything ever printed, sure would not mind it. Hope to have fun, help others and get better. If big money is offered I'd hope it was seen as a good thing - a great possibility for a great artist.

In a work place everyone is already getting fair money for their time regardless, so I think it works a little different and I still don't think more money will make better designs just more of them, but it is a good image booster for the site and a head turner to attract more people to the site. I feel it's not even an issue of getting better inspiration from people just to get people doing and talking. If there is a big sum of money in lotto more people will buy lotto tickets and that way the lotto people get more sales.

Wolfgang8885
jeffreyg said:

Great discussion here, dudes. I can definitely agree with you guys on some points.

Also, I'm sure there will be a few prints coming out of this.. but unfortunately, only one grand prize winner.

Just have fun with it! :p

Thats a relief, that multiple prints can come from this.

To me, money does motivate me a bit here because this is the simplest way to make money off what I love to do. I dont think I will ever find a company in the design field that will give me the opportunity to work for them.

I hate the job I have now, but it pays the bills. Sometimes I wish I could live like a hippie. No car, cellphone, internet, TV, etc. Id have so much extra moneys!

cmasse
BlancaJP said:

Hahaa cmasse that's a lot of beer!

all I'm really saying is it doesn't have to be one or the other. It can be both.

Because everyone here is in a different place job, money and life wise it just feels arrogant and rude to look down on the ones that are hoping to get the money or little money or just see that it is better to play the T-shirt lotto and have fun and get better at art while doing it, instead of just having fun with no money ever.

So I'm glad people here are in places where they don't see the money to be what they need but I also don't hate the ones that see that they really could use the money and it is at least a part of why they are here.

I just like taking the middle of the coin with both side fun and money with no expectations of ever getting anything ever printed, sure would not mind it. Hope to have fun, help others and get better. If big money is offered I'd hope it was seen as a good thing - a great possibility for a great artist.

In a work place everyone is already getting fair money for their time regardless, so I think it works a little different and I still don't think more money will make better designs just more of them, but it is a good image booster for the site and a head turner to attract more people to the site. I feel it's not even an issue of getting better inspiration from people just to get people doing and talking. If there is a big sum of money in lotto more people will buy lotto tickets and that way the lotto people get more sales.

We're on the same page Blanca. I'm just having fun playing the other side argument.

jeffreyg said:

Great discussion here, dudes. I can definitely agree with you guys on some points.

Also, I'm sure there will be a few prints coming out of this.. but unfortunately, only one grand prize winner.

Just have fun with it! :p

Awesome!

38Sunsets
38Sunsets profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

it would be cool, if it is not done yet (links please if yes) to have a point of the creator of Mr Mittens or other threadless big tee creators if they where conscious they are designing big tees.

what is a big tee before people around the globe elect one/adopt one design as their preferred one (in real life not during scoring time)

this challenge is just awesome to see what artistes consider iconic, what the jury will pick up as iconic, and in the end if the chosen design will have a life of a big tee. I am eager myself to see if I can come up with something cool.

good luck to all of you, good luck to myself

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

I agree, I think that nobody really knows what a 'big tee' is until it starts selling, or sometimes like the omnomnomnivore when it goes viral even during voting. Will be fun to see what comes up. Though I see by the number (and quality) of early entries that this challenge will not be without its downsides.

38Sunsets
38Sunsets profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -
Melmike said:

Whenever I actually try to sit down and think of a killer idea right then and there, I fail miserably.

No! Try not! DO or DO NOT! There is no try. thanks master Yoda!

BlancaJP
BlancaJP profile pic Alumni

well this turned in to a nice conversation - a round of beer for everyone

38Sunsets
38Sunsets profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

yep! would be nice to meet you all right now for that beer round and have some nice talks!

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

I plan on throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and waiting to see what sticks.

Wolfgang8885
BlancaJP said:

well this turned in to a nice conversation - a round of beer for everyone

I dont know why I read that as a round of beef for everyone.

cmasse
melmike said:

I plan on throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and waiting to see what sticks.

Here's my sub!

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

HAHAHAHAHA!

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni
cmasse said:
melmike said:

I plan on throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and waiting to see what sticks.

Here's my sub!

fyi, this is exactly where I hoped this thread would lead.

jeffreyg
jeffreyg profile pic Staff

oh my

cmasse
melmike said:
cmasse said:
melmike said:

I plan on throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and waiting to see what sticks.

Here's my sub!

fyi, this is exactly where I hoped this thread would lead.

Are you laughing at my creative process?

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

oh my lord. That is a wonderful creative process demonstration there.

cmasse

I learned it at art school.

Show us yours! :D

Manupix

Finally managed to divert 18 precious minutes of overbooked procrastinating time and it was totally worth it. Thanks for posting!

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