As a professional designer, should you enter design contests? It's always good to get your work out there in front of any audience but do you get more work from a winning a entry? From my experience the answer is, no. Last year I entered a design contest by the people who run the Oakland Running Festival. They said it was a contest but there was no real prize except to have my design printed on 6,000 give-away t-shirts. To make a long story short, I won. I "won" 6 shirts from the previous year's race and 4 shirts with my own design on it. 3 of the shirts were woman's shirts that I had to give away. I felt very used by the Company. The only thing that came out of it is when I see a runner wearing my design I say, "ya know I did that?" I thought maybe I can work this to my advantage buy designing a new design and sending it to the Oakland Running Festival people and tell them they can use it for a few dollars. I sent the design to them and they told me they don't want to pay for design. I was flooored. I said to them, but you pay a screen-printer thousands of dollars to print the shirts. They ignored me after that.
A lot of design contests use designers so they can get free design. It costs a lot less to run a little contest then pay a real designer to do something amazing. My friends are always sending me links to design contests and I'm always apprehensive to spend the creative energy to enter them. The prize never equates to the time and energy it takes to do the design.
Granted there are some design contests that are worth entering and you have to ask yourself a few questions before entering. Do you wan to improve your resume, impress potential employers, and get your name in front of the biggest firms and most important people in the design community? Then you need to consider entering some graphic design contests and competitions.Graphic design contests abound, ranging from poster design to logos, animation, multi-media, and more. Instead of randomly entering all of them, focus your energy and attention on the fields where you know you excel.
Some contests can have outrageous entrance fees, and if that’s the case you need to reevaluate question #1 with the cost in mind. It may be worth it to pay the fee and enter, but it could also be a waste of your time and money.
What do you think?
Ian Ransley DESIGN
Ian Ransley is a Bay Area Graphic Designer and Illustrator who has designed some of the most popular large-scale sporting and corporate events in the world.