Re: I really donut
Your art is solid - no worries there. The "I donut" is a very common trope, though, which is possibly why it's being passed up.
The background glow is a nice touch, though it looks like it's a gradient (or a very fine of a halftone) - that could be an issue when it comes to printing.
I wouldn't worry too much about a following. Yes, they can help, but it is by no means necessary. The top two selling artists here (300k+ shirts sold) did not advertise their derby designs anywhere -- no social media(*), no art pages, no .sig links. Their art sold itself.
There is no absolute formula to printing here -- the biggest variable is that the voting audience's tastes varies from theme to theme. Just keep in mind that this isn't only an art contest; it's also a wearability contest. If a viewer has to study the design to understand it, don't expect it to be as popular as a design which is understood right away.
The key thing is to have fun while drawing, to keep at it, and never stop improving. You will get noticed.
* - One does use multiple social media platforms for his own site, but he never used any of it to promote his submissions at shirt.woot. And you don't have to worry about it either, as he's not active here these days, which is a mixed bag, but with >800k followers now, it'd be no contest otherwise.
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