Graphic Design competitions are out there; whether you’re a seasoned vet or in the infant stages learning about graphic design. There are many competitions out there that you can enter. The key is to remember is whether or not the competition is actually looking to benefit both parties or simply get a plethora of designs in chose the most prettiest one then award an very nominal award (or if an award at all, cash or no cash).

So, this post may give you some insight about entering an graphic design competition or at least make you aware of competitions that are going on. Either way, lets learn about what competitions are worth your time and effort.

Understanding the scope

Do a quick Google search: Graphic Design Competitions, lots of search results, huh? There’s no shortage of opportunities to enter competitions that challenge you, gain exposure and learn more about dealing with specific design demands. As you learn graphic design you need to constantly challenge yourself in order to approach each design project differently. For instance, dealing with a band looking for a promo poster may give you free reign over the entire project, “Just make it look awesome and kick-ass.” The level of stress may not be as high as say a corporation with a committee of 6, all with very different ideas of how the design should be. “Make it blue. Make it pop. I like puppies. When I see it, I’ll know. I like this colour better.”  Dealing with both projects are exactly what you need as a greenhorn designer, but where can you gain that experience when you’re learning on your own or in school? Design Competitions can be the place to get experience like that.

What’s involved in entering a design competition? Patience, clear understanding of the design scope, whether this is a local or worldwide competition (no pressure) and if there’s a entrance fee to being a design contestant.

How to approach a design competition

The contest could be a logo design or poster design: both take time to develop and refine. The process of creating a logo can have a lot of thought behind it which is great; I’m a firm believer that your designs should have some history behind it. So, think about how long you’ll spend creating this logo, then weigh it against the prize amount and who exactly will be using this logo. I say this because if you create an awesome logo, it wins 1st prize, you are awarded $150 and it’s for some conglomerate company … then I would say that particular contest wasn’t worth it. Big businesses know the fee’s involved (which can project to the 5-10 G’s range), their logo will be easily identifiable across the world; that’s a lot of people seeing your design and you only received $150 for it, not so fair huh?

Another factor that could weigh a judges decision is that locality of the designer. The competition could be open worldwide, but the benefits of choosing a local designer could sway where the award goes to. Having the designer close by could make it easier to communicate, do further business together in the future or promote local talent.

If your design is chosen

As people who strategize, research and problem solve all in the name of graphic design, our work is our intellectual property. Our reputation is attached to each design we send out and should be kept professional at all times. The need to protect your intellectual property should be mandatory and a contract set in place will protects that property. A contract makes it possible to stipulate many things such as: how your design should be viewed, credited and even royalties. Contracts are great when both parties agree to the terms and abide by them (although, some parties may not care even with a contract. It happens)

So, if your design is chosen make sure that you’re comfortable with how the design is shown and how you’ll be accredited. It’s not a good feeling to say, “I made that!” and no one believing you.

In closing, entering a design competition can be exciting, a great learning experience and can blossom your career, but keep in mind the pros and cons of entering one.