You see them everywhere and perhaps you've even been contacted about one before: Design Contests. At first the benefits sounds pretty cool: if your design is chosen you get a prize, maybe publicity, and you see your work on display whether it be commercially on apparel and other retail items or featured publicly.
While many of these contests are legitimate and harmless, some of them are a legal way for companies and publications to swindle young or inexperienced artists in order to get cheap design work. It happens all the time and many artists fall for it hook, line, and sinker because they don't bother to read the legalese of the terms & conditions of the contest.
For example: Company X is holding a design contest for tee shirts. If your design is chosen as one of the best, you get $100 and your design is placed on the short list to be considered for production. If your design is chosen for production you get another $100 and you see your design for sale on the website for $18 a piec