Pixish Lets Photographers Help Buyers

One of the biggest frustrations for photographers is knowing you have a hard drive full of valuable images which no one ever gets to see. Sure, you could upload some of them to a Flickr stream and you could submit the commercial photos to a microstock site, but neither of those options guarantees either views or sales.

Wouldn’t it be great then if a publisher were simply to ask if anyone has a picture of a duck in a pond or a car driving down a road? Or if they were to canvas suggestions for the cover of a self-published book, a design for a t-shirt or even images for a gallery show?

That, more or less, is what Derek Powazek aims to do with Pixish, a new site that attempts to harness the power of the artistic community both to generate images and to sort out the best.

“The big idea is to connect communities,” Derek told us by email. “There’s a large, distributed community of talented artists online. Photographers, illustrators, etc. And then there’s this other community of publishers, creative directors, and people who need images. The best products happen when these two communities find each other, but that’s hard to do. We want to make it easier.”

Submit, Vote, Win Prizes
Publishers are able to advertise assignments on Pixish, and photographers and other visual artists can submit their work.

So far so simple. It’s at this stage though that things start to get a little more interesting. Other members of the community can then vote on which submissions the buyer should pay most attention to. The buyer, of course, is free to make his or her own choice but the reaction of the community should make the selection easier.

“One thing I’ve learned about publishers is that they know there’s all this talent on the web, but they have no idea how to go about inviting it,” Derek, a photographer, publisher and social media consultant, explains. “They’re afraid they’ll get crap, or get too much to deal with. The community vote is a great way to solve both those problems…

If an assignment is a runaway success with thousands of submissions, the community vote is a great way to help the best submissions float up.”

If that sounds little like the way JPG Magazine operates then that’s because Derek was one of the magazine’s founders. He left after a somewhat bitter split with the magazine’s CEO (which you can read about here on Derek’s blog) but he retained an appreciation for the power of online communities to submit, vote and enjoy the chance to be published. Part of the idea behind Pixish, Derek says, is to let the virtual community do its thing without the site having to worry about printing in the way that JPG Magazine does.

Help Derek Find a Tattoo…
Pixish only launched on February 9, 2008 so it might be a little early to say what sort of jobs it’s likely to attract. At the moment, several websites are looking for art, musician Jonathon Coulton is asking for t-shirt designs, South by Southwest Interactive wants up to 300 images to be displayed at SXSW’s first gallery show (the judges include Derek and his wife Heather Champ, Flickr’s Community Directory), and Derek himself is looking for a tattoo design.

As for the rewards, Jonathon Coulton is offering an iPod Nano, and other prizes include $50 for a picture of a girl with a orange cat… and plenty of pats on the back. While Derek does have plans to better enable monetary rewards for meeting assignments, at the moment, the emphasis is on the opportunity to help another member of the community and to get your work seen.

“A lot of professional artists balk at contests like Pixish and that’s totally fine. If you’ve already got a career and you’re making a living from your art, mazel tov! Pixish may not be for you,” Derek concedes.

“But the truth is, there are a whole lot more people struggling to start out in their careers. We want to lend them a hand and help them to get noticed. Plus, future features will enable publishers to directly commission specific artists.”

For now then, the biggest benefit that Pixish offers photographers might be the chance to get images off the hard drive, and into use — and to get known in the process.

But it’s also an opportunity to join a community, to browse through submissions, vote and to get a feel for what it’s like to be a publisher. And besides, who knows where that participation may lead? Contributors to JPG Magazine have, after all, seen their images in print and on gallery walls.

“The day I see a Pixish member published in a magazine somewhere, I’ll consider the project a success,” says Derek.

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