I agree with davehwng: there absolutely has to be variety. The goal is to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, and there's no catch-all artistic style that everyone likes, so as far as I can see, the best option is to let everyone who wants to provide imagery do their own thing, and trust that to yield a significant level of variety. Since artists tend to have somewhat consistent styles, you'll still see "themes" that show up in multiple places, but there'll also be a lot of variety as well. Of course, that raises the question of how to filter submissions.
Submissions could perhaps be picked through some sort of randomized rating page on the main site, where people are given random bits of art that people have sent in and provide their opinions -- maybe even just "Thumbs up" or "Thumbs down". Perhaps they would be shown next to a picture of what they're meant to represent. Similar to this, perhaps. And maybe there could even be a box for written feedback -- I think that being able to actually submit reviews of images which then get sent to the artist would be very cool, and would be a good way to help people fine-tune their work. There's some potential for harassment, sure, but there are ways to handle that. Obviously, voters would not be shown other people's ratings/reviews, in order to keep the system objective -- although perhaps they could be revealed after voting, like post-redesign YouTube. And then, say, the top 2~5 images for a species could be provided on the main page for printing onto cards. I like the element of fluidity that's possible here.
It seems like this would work even better if the target audience could be gotten to participate in the voting process. My only worry would be about people ballot-stuffing via proxies, etc, to get their own art pushed up, but randomized selection with a big enough base of art to pick from ought to circumvent that, at least partially.
So, to summarize, it seems to me like the best idea would be to provide total artistic freedom (though perhaps with someone filtering submissions to make sure nothing that's unsuitable for young'uns makes it in) and to simply let people vote on what they like and what they don't. Sticking to one artistic style is a recipe for disaster.
Anyone have any thoughts on that?
Edit- I suppose I should be more specific. When I say total freedom, there are still, of course, necessary constraints -- image dimensions, for instance. What I mean is that, under this system, there should be no rules about art that do not directly address either the physical constraints of the medium or its child-friendliness.
Edit2- An alternative to the voting system that might work better could be something that's more like Kittenwar and similar sites. You would be given two submitted pictures for a species and would pick which one you like more. It seems like that might be superior to the voting style I suggested above, since it doesn't require an artificial baseline concept to judge individual images against. And yes, associations with Kittenwar make everything better.
Last edited by Wootfish on Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:44 pm; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : Clarification & afterthoughts)