I know that title got your attention! First I would like to begin by thanking everyone who voted for my painting in the 3rd 5 Pieces Gallery Art Contest at Facebook. The amount of support I received over the past few days was very humbling. Many people rallied around me - sharing my entry to their own Facebook walls and even asking their friends to vote.

caplin fish paintingWith your help and support, I have achieved second place in the 5 Pieces Gallery art contest.

This is the email I received from 5 Pieces Gallery this morning:

Dear Graham

Hope you are well. We are pleased to let you know that the 5 Pieces Gallery Art Contest has ended tonight at midnight and you are one of our winners! Just enter the code xxxxxxxx at our checkout and save $40 on whatever you like.

Congratulations and be sure to check our page from time to time for the next art contest. Keep up your good work!


I have to say that I had my reservations about writing this post and telling about my experience with the 5 Pieces Gallery Art contest. I do not want to appear to be a sore loser. I could just accept defeat gracefully, and congratulate the winner (if he deserved to win) But, I think you all deserve to know what happened here - especially all of you who have voted and promoted my entry. Your efforts have helped me in any ways! My artwork has been seen by countless people than it would have otherwise!

I initially entered the art competition as an experiment, both to see what it takes to win, and to gauge the amount of support I would receive. But, what I discovered was a dark side to Facebook contests that I have not heard of – they are easy to cheat! Being the investigator I am, I discovered several sites which warn about Facebook voting competitions.

Prize pigs' underground world of digital vote rigging
Detecting Fraud in Facebook Contests
How to Identify Facebook Cheaters

Contestants can join a vote exchange group, and trade votes that way. They can obtain votes by creating several Facebook accounts, or acquire the help of someone they know with several accounts. Several sites even sell votes for a very affordable amount. Check out these results from Goferr.com and Fiverr.

facebook contest votefacebook voting jobThere are also sites devoted entirely to this service of selling likes and Facebook contest votes.

But, the question is, did cheating occur in this Facebook art competition? This is very difficult to prove, but the evidence does point in that direction. I will let you be the judge.

Here is a brief overview of what happened since I entered this art contest.

art contestThe contest began on Feb. 18th and I entered my painting “Capelin Run”. I posted at my Facebook profile, and informed others that I had entered. Right away I noticed there was only ONE entry providing any competition at all. I promoted at Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and asked others to share and vote for me. We kept swapping spots for number one place for the first 3-4 days.

The number one spot was difficult to achieve, but I managed to get there by Feb. 22nd. Of course, he quickly took back first place… but I regained it a day later. The votes stayed at 408-367 for two full days. It seemed that he had either given up, or ran out of the resources to gain more votes. But, I decided to check the results the night before the contest was to end. The results were the same. An hour later, I checked again and noticed he was 2 votes from gaining the lead.

But, his gain in votes did not stop! He increased at a consistent pace, until he gained 200 votes in just 5 hours, stopping at 567 for the night.

Facebook art contest

The voting did not end till 12AM on Feb. 27th and the final tally was 624-528 for first and second place.

facebook art contest

These are some emails I received today from others who have been watching this art contest closely (published with permission).

Dear Mr. Graham Matthews,
I have seen a lot of your work and I voted for you in the 5 PIECE GALLERY art contest. I think you should have been the first place winner, but thank you for your honesty, and inspiration in the art world. I'm a struggling artist trying to make ends meet, but reading your blogs, post, etc. gives me the inspiration to keep pursuing my dreams. You may not have came in first place in this art contest, but your art is #1 to me. I look forward to visiting your website, and looking through your art work. You inspire me and so many others. Thanks for giving us, struggling artist, the honesty and inspiration to turn our dreams into reality.

Hi Graham,
I just wanted you to know that, from watching the art contest you entered on Facebook at 5 piece gallery, I love your work. I voted for you, and if I could have voted a million times, I would have. Your work has so much life, so much enthusiasm, so much color, so much love. I absolutely adore your individuality and technique, and although you came in 2nd place, I think you should have came in 1st place. I watched this contest for days, and how do someone stay idle for such a period of time, and then all of a sudden within a couple of hours, he/she has exactly 200 extra votes. All I have to say on that note, is KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! You will always be a winner to me and to the art community.

There is one other thing I should mention – this contest is not available on mobile. I estimate that I lost anywhere from 100-200 votes because of this (people who wanted to vote for me but could not).

Apparently, this is not the first time there has been controversy over a winning entry in a 5 Pieces Gallery Art Contest. Go to this page and note the comment “We wuz robbed”. (Notice that the artist liked the comment.)

What I really won

I could keep going on about this, but I will leave it at that, and talk about how this contest has helped bring exposure to my art. 528 people were successful in voting for my painting, and many more saw it. I have received MANY positive and motivating comments about my work. Many have rallied around me and helped me promote my piece. I have chatted with many of those and answered questions about my art – and made many new friends. 

These type of contests are good for artists if promoted effectively. The real benefit comes from meeting people and getting an artwork in front of many eyes.

Would I enter one of these Facebook art contests again? Maybe! It’s NOT about winning or losing, but the experience and recognition – meeting new people, promoting art, and rallying supporters.

THANK-YOU to everyone who voted for me and shared my contest entry!!

What do you think? Would you take part in such an art contest, in spite of the cheaters?

Post a Comment Blogger

  1. You know I too noticed what you have mentioned. I can totally understand how you feel. I too just recently participated in an art competition where the goal is to get people to vote for your work. I had religiously promoted my entry every single day and some days sat online personally sending invites to each person on my friends list and fan list on my art page. Many have complained that they had voted but their vote did not show and count toward my total due to not being accessible via cell phone or some even couldn't vote because of opperating system their computer uses. I sat and watched entries fly past me in votes when I started the competition in the lead. One perticular entry was allegedly created by a 6 year old that consisted of paintings that had paint thrown at the canvas. Also not to sound like a sore looser, I was a bit taken back by this because I felt this was a serious competition to help emerging artist. Here I was an artist who had gone to school for art, spent countless hours, days and years perfecting my skill. Walked many miles visiting galleries and festivals to obtain knowledge to help me improve my exposure to art. And I'm getting blown out of the water in votes because of the "cute" factor of a 6 year old. There is no way that this kid recieved votes for his art. He recieved the "emotional" vote. The vote to help prevent a kid from being disappointed. I just couldn't understand how all my efforts to promote my entry on various social web sites couldn't even muster 100 votes. And I wasn't the only artist in this competition that had this outcome. I saw many extremely talented artist who had the same amount of votes as I and also expressed the same troubles of their supporters not being able to get their vote counted.
    Basically I though this method of competition would be better then haveing one or three judges determine your success in an art show because it opened it up to the public. Not left in the hopes that the judges liked your style of art. Yes it was a great venue to obtain exposure. To reach those who you would not normally or easily be able to reach. But you have to admit that a small portion of us do enter these shows and contest to encourage us and remind us that we are on the right path and yes in fact try to win. We are competitive by nature. Not to mention alot of us are struggling financially and could use the prize of the art grant or the solo show in the art mecca of Times Square.
    So yes. The thought has crossed my mind too that artist like you and myself who start out doing well in these type of shows surprise those running it and maybe, just maybe they resort to measures to ensure that those they want to win or make the finals do. My message to all artist. Don't let your failures in shows define you or your work! You are a great artist! Take the approach I do when trying to gain exposure. Keep throwing mud at the wall. Not all of it will stick but eventually alot of it will. And we create because we love it. Society will always have people who will do things unfairly. You will gain many more fans by not turning into those who slighted you in a show or competition. Thanks so much for blogging on this topic. It was definitely needed. Have a creative day all!!!!!

  2. Dear Graham

    My answer now is No! Why bother to enter when aware of those cheats. Rather like you I decided to enter another Internet Competition by See.me

    I was invited to enter as I was told that I had joined just before the deadline and although entries were now closed, if I could obtain 20 supporters within just less than the next three weeks I would then qualify for the competition to have my limited edition prints displayed in Times Square New York.

    So I uploaded some of my pictures

    About 10 days later I was informed that I had got a few supporters, but hardly any likes for individual pictures, apparently I had not only to obtain 20 supporters but 20 likes too!

    So when I had sent lots of messages asking for help by voting with the 'Support' button, I had not asked anyone for the picture likes. Then I discovered that it is very hard to find out who had liked pictures and who had not. The Dashboard figures are very confusing and hard to understand.

    But worse still, my wife decided to support me and to like certain pictures that had no likes at that time. It proved far more complex to vote than we had realised, because not only did one have to join See.me to support someone, but there was also a requirement to link to your own Facebook page, anyway my wife succeeded. But I then had to write a complaint to See.me because my wife’s votes did not shown up on my page, even 24 hours later. The reply simply stated there must have been a time delay – but it was 48 hours, before my wife’s votes were shown!

    Many others contacted me saying they had tried to support me, but could not do it! Some explained that they did not want to have a Facebook page and that without one they could not find anyway to do anything!

    The end result was that I got 38 supporters, but only 17 likes by the deadline, so I failed! But what really annoyed me was that (about two days after my wife joined and voted) she got an email telling her if she could get 20 supporters by the same deadline she could also win, contrary to what I had been told (that being that the competition was closed).

    Even now I have no idea who has won! They now show me as having 41 supporters and 20 likes. But I feel very sceptical about how these competitions are run and controlled too. In my view they are simply not worth all the effort, we the competitors are really just promoting their web sites.

    With kindest regards and commiserations,


  3. @John Delaney
    @John Neville Cohen

    Thank-you for your great comments!

    Like nearly everything else I do, I look at this contest as a learning experience. IF I enter this art contest, or similar one again, I will be approaching it in an entirely different way. I was REALLY impressed with the amount of exposure I received. Each time I posted, I should have added something like:

    "See more of my art at www.GrahamMatthewsArt.com"

    ... or even...
    "Prints available for $X"
    "Signup for my newsletter at..."

    In this way, all the promotion serves a tangible purpose...

  4. It's more a popularity contest than anything but is that not how the Art World works. It doesn't really matter if your talking about the FB 5 Pieces Gallery Art Contest, the Saatchi showdown, the Artist Wanted, Art takes Time Square Contest, your local competitions or International ones. It never seems to be about the Art but is more about how many friends you have or just having the right ones.

  5. Mr. Matthews

    I follow closely the contest.
    Just read all your posts about the 5 Pieces Gallery Art Contest and only I can see that you despise others for not be the winner.

    I can't understand why did you say "I could just accept defeat gracefully, and congratulate the winner (if he deserved to win)".

    Let me explain you a couple of things

    1. This is a Facebook contest where the most voted piece wins a prize, there is not a jury of famous artist.

    2. It's a open contest and there are paintings of all kinds of techniques.
    Then I question, who deserved to win? Well I think under these circumstances everybody have a chance to win.

    Let me quote to 5 Prices Gallery's Admin "I just can tell you that it is not possible to vote twice with the same IP address, not even if you have more than one FB account".
    You know what that means?

    I can see in your post that you had 249 votes and you grew to 457.
    You disagree that your competitor got 200 votes, but you grew 200 progressively too. So if you can get it, why other can't get it by the same way? It means that just fine for you?

    I think there are two types of artists.
    The first one, wants to share his way to see the world and try to share his knowledge.
    The second, hunt the fame and feeding his ego.

    which one do you think you are?

    Please don't let your ego grow bigger than your art!

  6. @Luis Garcia
    Hi Luis.

    Thank-you for your comment. I agree that this is just a Facebook contest, and it is open to anyone who has a Facebook account (13 years of age and older). But, I do not agree that everyone has a chance to win. Yes, I did grow 200 and more progressively with the support of many people who were sharing my entry to their walls, and asking others to vote... but the growth was very slow and happened over a few days... not 5 hours.

    As for your quote, from 5 Pieces Gallery. I know for a fact that it is still possible to vote with the same IP address, with separate computers... but I chose not to argue with that. And even if that were true, there are companies that will do the work of voting for you - using different IP addresses. (see mentioned reference articles)

    Am I trying to feed my ego with this contest... are you serious??!

    Obviously, you have not been following this blog.. and you do not know me personally.

  7. @Luis Garcia

    Mr. Garcia,

    I am not one to brag, or to discriminate against others, but if you followed this blog at all, you would know for a fact, that Mr. Matthews, as a artist in the fine arts world, has more honor and dignity than you know about, otherwise, this blog would most certainly not exist.

    As for not being able to vote from the same IP address, I know straight up, that it is total B.S. because I have more than one computer in my home and mre than one facebook account being used also, and all computers was able to vote at least one time.

    You call it, EGO GROWING BIGGER THAN HIS ART! I call it being honest. And where do you get in today's world without honesty, Mr. Garcia? I guess that's a question for you to answer. I can ensure you that the winner of this contest won unfairly how else do someone gain exactly 200 votes in the matter of 5 hours? And then come to a complete hault? There are websites where you can pay a small price and have people voting to ensure your win, but Mr. Matthews played honestly. I guess we know who the SORE LOSER really is, because if he wasn't, then he wouldn't have had to buy his votes or pay someone to make sure he wins. MR. MATTHEWS, BOWED OUT GRACEFULLY. I think the winner (who in my eyes and a lot of others should have been the one to lose or be disqualified) should have bowed out gracefully and given the WIN to someone who played honest and fair.....CHEATING GETS YOU KNOW WHERE, I guess you would be smart enough to know that, so why don't you take a good long look back over the contest, the rules, and all the comments made after the contest has ended on the winners photo, and on MR. MATTHEWS photo, and see who people thought should have won the contest....LEARN THE GAME BEFORE POSTING DISCRIMINATING COMMENTS!!!


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