Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tuberville's County Fair: A Lesson in Competition.

September is county fair time here in Tuberville. I always enjoy the county fair. It seems like folks from all around spend a great deal of time and effort in producing entries for the various competitions at the fair. Luther Suggs always brews up one of his unusual prune and raisin wines. And Mertle Thatch always raises a new champion show hog. Then there are all the usual gardening, crafts and cooking competitions. Yes, September is a wonderful time of year when it’s time for the county fair and all those competitions.

Speaking of competitions, there are always competitions for us creative artist types too. And I have always felt that participating in animation festivals and competitions was a good thing. For some people I suppose that the pressure of competing and the rejection of not winning or even not making the selection “cut” are a bit of a turn off. But perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from the folks that enter the Tuberville county fair competitions.

I had a conversation with Clem Jones a perennial entrant in the fancy tomatoes growing competition. I wanted to understand why each year Clem spent hundreds of hours working in his garden trying to grow a tomato that would be special enough to win a prize that usually was only a cloth blue ribbon. The answer is quite enlightening. It isn’t the prize that motivates Clem it is the motivation. Yes, you read that correctly. Clem enters contests and competitions because they provide for him a motivation to focus his efforts on a project. Clem told me that without the contest “what fun would growing “maters” be anyway?”

One thing about living in Tuberville, the folks around here usually get to the root of things by the most direct path possible. It isn’t the winning or even the being selected that is important. It is the motivation and inspiration of trying to be selected or trying to win a prize through your own creative efforts that is the real reason to compete.

For a cartoon maker that rings true as well. Most of the times we are making our cartoons to entertain our viewers and that in itself is a noble goal. Of course paying the rent and putting food on the table are important too. But for many people who haven’t become professional cartoonists the motivation of participating in contests and competitions is a great way to focus their efforts. They provide goals and deadlines and just enough structure. So just like the competitions at the Tuberville county fair, animation competitions are a great source of motivation and it isn’t the prizes that are as important as the participation.

And, you never know you might just get noticed by some influential media executive who offers you a development opportunity for the Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon.

Someday I could be as famous as Mr. Krabs?