The Iconfactory last held Pixelpalooza, their annual icon design contest, in the spring of 2004. I missed it last year. I miss it this year. Winners would have been announced right about now. *sigh*
My entry in 2002 coincided with my first forays into icon design. It was thrilling. I'd visit the contest pages "a couple of times" every day and download dozens of entries as they were posted. I scrutinized each in minute detail for clues to improving my work. What don't I like? How would I design this differently? How did they do that?!
Everybody could vote for the People's Choice. Well, you could cast one ballot per computer; inconvenient but necessary. Even that added to the scope of the event as my young namesake and his brothers negotiated several days to cast their single set of agreed-upon votes for the house.
Throughout each contest, I sent and received email that welcomed, complimented, and supported us icon artists. It was entirely unexpected my first year, and I felt like I was Part of Something.
Of course, Pixelpalooza represents a considerable commitment of resources. You really have to love a project like that to launch it year after year, regardless of how or whether it benefits a community or business. (At least three winners later joined The Iconfactory.) Sometimes you just have to step away for a while to restore your desire to rejoin the fray.
I miss it anyway.
According to A Brief History of The Iconfactory, the first Pixelpalooza was held in late 1997. Maybe a Pixelpalooza 2006 is still possible. Maybe it will be back next year, bigger and better than ever, for its tenth anniversary.
I'd volunteer to help.