If you like to challenge yourself to try new themes, techniques and layouts in your projects, or are simply looking for a spark of inspiration to get you going, then paper craft challenges may be for you! Paper craft challenge blogs are all the rage these days, and thousands of artisans use them every day to give them the creative spark they need to keep creating.
How Paper Craft Challenges Work
- Each individual paper craft challenge blog posts a new challenge on a regular schedule, ranging from weekly to monthly.
- Challenges range from creating something according to a particular theme, color combination, or sketch, to creating a particular type of project such as cards, tags, 3D items, etc. Some blogs focus on just one type of challenge such as card layouts (“sketches”), while others rotate themes with each new challenge.
- Established groups of designers (“Design Teams”) create samples to share on their respective challenge blogs in order to inspire the challenge participants.
- Anyone wanting to participate in the challenge is then asked to “link up” their project using the “linky tool” included with the challenge post.
- In order to “link up” to a challenge post, you need to have first posted a photo, basic description, and link back to the challenge on your blog or other linkable public photo gallery.
- Each challenge has a submission deadline.
- At the end of each challenge, winners are chosen, normally by random draw, but sometimes also by Design Team vote. Sometimes the “win” is honorary, but often there is an actual prize involved.
- Many challenges are “sponsored.” That is to say that various paper craft companies (often digital stamp/printables shops) provide prizes to the challenge winners in exchange for the Design Teams using their products in their challenge samples. Prizes typically range from a sampling of printables to small gift certificates.
- The challenge blogs themselves are often actually hosted by companies looking to gain exposure for their products. Many are still open to all crafters, whether or not they use those companies’ products in their challenge creation. Some do require, however, that you use only their products.
The most comprehensive, up-to-date listing of current paper craft challenges is available for free at the Paper Playful website. The lovely ladies at Paper Playful (all volunteers, by the way!) comb the Internet continuously to bring you a full daily links list! They very kindly also provide the basic details of each challenge, including themes, deadlines, and whether or not specific products are require to participate. (Thank you, Paper Playful volunteers!)
Additional challenges can often be found through various online paper crafter communities. To find an online community to join, see our Join a Paper Craft Community page.
How to Join a Challenge
- Once you choose a challenge, visit the blog with which it is associated in order to familiarize yourself with it.
- Make sure the challenge really is a good fit for you. If you don’t like “cutes” images, for example, you won’t want to join a challenge that focuses on them.
- Be sure to read all of the challenge rules ahead of time, and then follow them. They are typically just common sense — like making a new project for the challenge and not submitting old work, sticking to the posted theme, etc. But occasionally there is something you really need to be aware of, like how many times you can enter or which brand of products you must use to participate.
- Create your project according to the challenge guidelines.
- Post a picture and description of your challenge project on your blog or other link-able public photo gallery. Be sure to include a link to the challenge blog post, and to state how your project meets the challenge.
- Copy the direct link (URL) to your post.
- Link up your blog post using the linky tool at the bottom of the challenge post.
- Be sure to submit your project in advance of the posted deadline. “Linky tools” are programmed to close automatically when the challenges expires.
- Don’t forget to check back after the challenge has ended to see if you won!
There are a few “niceties” to keep in mind when participating in paper craft challenges:
- Submit only your own original work.
- Leave a comment on the challenge blog thanking them for the challenge. It is also kind to give positive feedback in your comment about the Design Team samples.
- If you enjoy a particular challenge blog enough to visit repeatedly, be sure to follow the blog. This helps them know that you like what they’re doing, and makes it easier for you to find your way back later.
- If you are inspired by the work of another crafter whose work you see linked at the challenge, stop by their blog and leave them a comment.
- If you are inspired enough to want to reproduce another designer’s project and share it on your own blog, be sure to give credit to them in your blog post and to link to their original design. After all, you’d want them to do the same, right?