Mystery Build 2014 Art Project - Theme: Build a Dream

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does the Mystery Build art contest work?

A: Purchase a 2014 Mystery Build Art Project Kit and "Build a Dream" using ONLY the materials provided inside. Complete a submission form at and upload photographs and/or videos of your project, photos or video of your work in progress, and a written description of your process before the submission deadline (10/20/14). Contest winners will be selected by a panel of judges and by online public voting. You can use as many or as few of the materials in the kit as you like, and you may use the Mystery Build box itself. You can add liquids and liquid adhesives like paint, varnish, lacquer, oil, dye, ink, acid, water, glue, resin, polyurethane, and more to decorate or enhance your project (see rules). What's inside the kit? We can't tell you, but you can expect to find some common art materials like wood, clay, canvas, metal, and plenty of surprises. All 2014 kits contain the same materials, so each creator faces the same challenges and limitations. It's a project that combines the creation of art, the challenge of a puzzle, and the fun of a game. Be sure to save the unique Username and Password found in your Mystery Build Kit.

Q: Who is eligible to enter the contest?

A: The contest is only open to residents of the United States and Canada (shipping required). Contestants must be 18 years of age or older to receive cash prizes. Awards won by participants or teams under the age of 18 will be distributed to their respective legal guardians or other persons 18 or older.

Q: What can I win? What are the prizes?

A: There are $21,000 in cash prizes.

Best in Show $6,000

People's Choice $2,000
Photo Category Video Category
1st $1,500 1st $1,500
2nd $1,250 2nd $1,250
3rd $1,000 3rd $1,000
4th $750 4th $750
5th $500 5th $500
6th $250 6th $250
7th $250 7th $250
8th $250 8th $250
9th $125 9th $125
10th $125 10th $125
$1,000 will be awarded in Instant Win prizes found inside 2014 Mystery Build Kits.
$500 in Instant Win gift cards provided by Jerry's Artarama, which can be used online or in retail stores.

Another Plus:
Nationwide exposure - Winning entries will be displayed on Mystery Build websites and promotions. Mystery Build reserves the right to increase or add prizes by unlimited amounts at any time whatsoever.

Q: How are the winners chosen?

A: An independent, qualified panel of judges will judge all eligible entries based on the following criteria:
* Creativity and Use of Materials - The originality of the entry and use of the materials provided. Are materials used in surprising ways? Does the entry show imagination and ingenuity?
* Creative Use of the Theme – How effectively and creatively the entry expresses the Theme – "Build a Dream". Entrants may interpret the contest's theme any way they wish. It is purposefully left open-ended.
* Execution/Craftsmanship – Quality of technique. Is the entry well executed? Does it show skill, talent, or craftsmanship?
* Presentation - The quality and originality of the photos and/or videos submitted. Is the project well documented and presented?

Q: Can I win the People's Choice Award and also place in the contest?

A: Yes. You can win more than one prize! Winning the public vote doesn't exclude you from other prizes.

Q: What's the theme of the contest?

A: Build a Dream. What does that mean? You tell us! Be creative!
It's a broad, open ended theme, that you can interpret however you want. You could create a representation of a dream you've had while sleeping, or make your project about a hope or aspiration. The dream doesn't have to be your own. You could look to the dreams of famous artists or inventors, or consider significant historical events that were precipitated by dreams. You can use songs, films, or books about dreams as your inspiration. The possibilities are endless, and nothing is right or wrong.

Q: When can I submit my entry?

Submit your photos or videos anytime between 11/01/13 and 10/20/14 at 11:59 p.m. ET (submission deadline).

Q: When and where can I buy a Mystery Build Kit?

A: You can order a kit online at or purchase a Kit from a Mystery Build distributer or from one of our sales representatives. Mystery Build Kits are available for purchase beginning 11/01/13 and ending on 10/30/14, or while supplies last.

Q: Can I work with a friend or a group on my entry?

A: Yes. You may enter as an individual, team, group, or class. Teams must assign a representative to compete for and claim prizes.

Q: How many times can I enter the Contest? How many kits can I buy?

A: Enter as many times as you would like until the submission deadline. The contents of multiple Mystery Build Kits may not be combined into a single entry. Enter only one (1) creation per Mystery Build Kit. Enter using the unique Username and Password found in your Mystery Build Kit.

Q: When does the contest end? When is the submission deadline?

A: Entry submissions are due by 10/20/14 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Submissions forms and instructions are on-line at Early submissions are encouraged. Early submissions will be considered for cover art on the 2015 Mystery Build Kit box.

Q: How do I submit my entry?

A: Fill out a submission form at using your assigned Username and Password. Follow the instructions for uploading photos or videos of your entry for contest judging and voting.

Q: How many photos do I submit?

A: 6 or more. You can only submit one photo or video of your finished entry to be used as the primary representation of your project. You can submit a composite image showing multiple angles of the entry. In addition, a minimum of 5 photographs of your ENTRY IN PROGRESS, clearly showing that the entry was created from the materials in the 2014 Mystery Build Kit, are required. You may submit a video of the entry in progress instead of the 5 photos. You can submit additional photos and videos to strengthen your project presentation.

Q: Can I photograph my entry in an environment, place, or with a background?

A: Yes. You may choose to place your creation in an environment for purposes of presentation. The environment may contain materials not included in the kit. The background should not be a major component of your entry, and should not take focus away from what you made. For example, if you create a sculpture of a boat, you may choose to photograph it by a lake, or you may photograph your entry on a table or against a wall. The background MAY NOT contain objects you've created using materials outside of the Kit, but some staging of natural or found objects will be permitted. The entry must be the primary focus of the photograph or video. Backgrounds will not be judged as part of the constructed entry. Judges will have final ruling on whether or not an entry has used backgrounds or project environments improperly.

Q: Can my entry video or photograph include text or titles?

A: Yes. For purposes of presentation you may add computer generated text to your entry.

Q: Can my entry video include music or voice-over?

A: Yes. If you use music be sure it's not copy protected and that you have express permission from the artist to use the music.

Q: Can I submit my entry early, before the deadline?

A: Yes! Submit anytime after 11/01/13. Early submissions will be considered for cover art on the 2015 Mystery Build Kit.

Q: If I submit early will my entry be visible to the public?

A: No. Your entry will be hidden until public voting begins.

Q: What materials are in the Kit?

A: The contents of the Kit are a mystery at the time of purchase. There is a variety of materials in the Kit, everything is easy to use and nothing is dangerous. You can except to find some common art materials like wood, clay, fiber, metal, and more.

Q: Does every Mystery Kit contain the same materials?

A: Yes. Every kit contains the exact same materials. Mystery Build cannot be held accountable for minor variations from Kit to Kit. Each kit contains a list of materials, and if something is missing we will send you the item free of charge.

Q: Can I use materials not included in the kit in my entry? Can I add materials?

A: No, with the exception of liquids and liquid adhesives. You can only use what's in the kit as your project materials. In addition to the Kit you may use paint, varnish, lacquer, food coloring, oil, dye, water, ink, or similar liquids to enhance the entry, to join materials, or to manipulate the materials. Liquids MAY NOT be used for major structural elements, and may only be used as a surface treatment, enhancement, decoration, or as a tool (like bending wood with water). Liquids may not be used to create new solid masses (like creating an object with resin or dried paint) or to create extremely heavy textures. Judges will have final ruling on use of liquids.
Examples of acceptable liquids adhesives include wood glue, resin, epoxy, spray adhesive, polyurethane, silicone, hot melt glue, and other liquids or gels. Adhesives MAY NOT be used for creating solid objects, and must be used solely to join materials or as a surface treatment. You may not add any materials to your entry that are not included with the Kit. No substitutions or additions of other similar or identical materials are permitted.

Q: Can I make more than one entry from a single Kit?

A: No. You may only enter one creation per Mystery Build Kit, with unique assigned Username and Password.

Q: Do I have to use everything in the Kit?

A: No. You may choose to use anything in the Kit and the Mystery Build box itself, but you are not required to use all of the materials.

Q: Can I use the cardboard box that the Mystery Kit was shipped in?

A: No. You may not use the outer shipping box/container or any other materials associated with shipping, such as USPS boxes, bubble wrap, or packing paper. You can use the printed cardboard Mystery Build box, the shrink wrap around it, and everything inside.

Q: What tools can I use to build my entry?

A: You may use any tools you want to manipulate the materials in your Kit and create your entry. Some examples of tools you might use are scissors, saws, files, drills, threading needles, hole punches, microwaves, lasers, bulldozers, etc. You may not use tools that add a physical material to the entry such as a stapler, which would add staples, or a soldering operation, which would add solder. You may make tools out of any materials you want. Tools may include molds, which also do not have to be made of materials from the Kit. If you manipulate materials in a very drastic manner (such as burning) and it is not reasonably perceptible that the materials are components of the provided Mystery Kit, you will be required to provide evidence (photographic or other) of your technique.

Q: Can I paint my entry or elements of my entry?

A: Yes. You may add paint, varnish, lacquer, ink, dye or similar coatings to decorate or enhance your creation. Avoid building up areas of extremely thick paint, as our judges may rule that the paint was used as a solid construction material rather than a decorative enhancement.

Q: Can I use fire in my entry?

A: Yes. Fire will not be considered an added material and may be used as part of your presentation or as a tool.

Q: What do I do if I'm not sure my entry or technique is breaking the rules?

A: Email us at and we will answer any of your questions.

Q: How will I know if I was a winner in the contest?

A: Potential winners will be notified by email, telephone or mail after 11/25/14.

Q: When will I get my Prize?

A: Prizes will be distributed on or about 11/29/14.

Q: When are the winners selected?

A: Judging begins on 11/01/14 and ends on 11/20/14. The Prize Winners will be announced on 11/25/14.

Q: How does Public Voting work?

A: Public Voting opens on 11/01/14 and ends on 11/20/14. Go online to and follow the instructions to view and vote for entries. Limit 1 vote per person/IP address per day, per project.

Q: When will I get my Prize?

A: Prizes will be distributed on or about 11/29/14.

Q: When are the winners selected?

A: Judging begins on 11/01/14 and ends on 11/20/14. The Prize Winners will be announced on 11/25/14.

Q: Can I make changes to an entry after I've submitted it?

A: No. Once your entry is submitted, you may not edit your submission.

Q: How does Public Voting work?

A: Public Voting opens on 11/01/14 and ends on 11/20/14. Go online to and follow the instructions to view and vote for entries. Limit 1 vote per person/IP address per day, per project.

Q: How long does shipping take?

A: Kits normally ship within 24 hours of ordering, except for weekends. We ship USPS or UPS ground from Raleigh, NC. Delivery takes between 1-7 days, depending on your location.

Q: Is there an age restriction for using a kit?

A: We recommend that participants be at least 8 years old.

Q:What if I lost my Username or Password?

A: Contact customer support at

Q:I still have questions, who can I contact?

A: Send an email to