The call for entries is ringing in my ears again. Yes, the grandest teddy bear competition of them all is looming large. The international Oscar of the bear world, the 'TOBY 2008' will no doubt rattle all bear designers' confidence, as we search our souls in angst, in an effort to decide whether or not we feel able to grasp the mantle and lay our precious work at the daunting feet of the omnipotent TOBY jury.
TOBY INDUSTRY's CHOICE AWARDS 2007 - Entry 'Bisto'
To win a TOBY 'Industry Choice Award' is indeed an honour and the competition to achieve this highest of accolades is fierce, reaching across continents, beyond seas. In my thirteen or so years of bear making, I have entered only twice. Neither time with a successful outcome and both times nail bitingly daunting. I'm fairly pragmatic about the outcome of these events, but in the immediate excitement of nomination announcements, it's hard not to feel the sting of failure when you know in your heart of hearts your blood, sweat and tears have been overlooked, passed by, dismissed by those 'in the know'.
GOLDEN TEDDY AWARDS 2007 - Entry 'Sunny Jim'
It's so difficult to know what a judging panel wants to see in a piece of work; quality of workmanship, creativity, originality, those are the areas I'd home in on if I was a judge, but who can read minds? Not me it seems. My biggest question is, will a burst of colourful contemporary originality tempt their tastebuds, or alternatively, will classy, stylish tradition whet their bear hungry appetite? It's an impossible call for any bear maker to pre-determine.
URSA AWARDS 2007 - Entry 'Crocus'
So, will I or won't I? Has my bruised ego healed sufficiently for me to tackle yet another competition? What a question!READERS' CHOICE AWARDS 2007 - 'Billy Buttons' FINALIST
In 2007, I submitted my work to four competitions - the TOBY Awards (no luck there), the Golden Teddy Awards (no luck there either) the URSA Awards (thanks to everyone who voted, but sadly, poor 'Crocus' didn't make the selection process) and finally, the 'Readers' Choice Awards' ... yay! Success at last! 'Billy Buttons' was nominated overall and awarded 'runner-up' in his category. Persistence pays off it seems and boy, does it feel good!
After all these years, I really am no wiser with regard to competition criteria and am still in two minds as to whether it's worth all the anguish on a personal level, but as always there is a bigger picture to be examined. Exciting competitions introduce new interest to our industry, showcasing some of the most creative work available in the marketplace, inspiring everyone involved to continually push personal boundaries in an effort to achieve perfection and offer truly unique work to collectors.
I think I probably will continue to submit work to the occasional quality competition because as they say, "nothing ventured, nothing gained". After all, when everything possible has been said and done, surely this bear maker's bruised ego can afford to take a little more battering in the name of industry progression?!