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Many of my students ask me how to show off their creativity and attract companies to get in touch with them for meetings and interviews. My first suggestion is joining graphic design competitions because they do not only help you to prove your skills among other creative minds, but they also give you self confidence that your ideas are worthy and you are the best in the field.

Joining graphic design competitions is a recommended practice for graphic designers, especially the new designers and design students, to show their ability to create unique ideas and compete with the ideas of others. In addition to the above benefits, design competitions help you achieve the following:

• Ability to judge your own talent
• Join the competitions challenge
• Adding the artwork to your portfolio whether it wins or not
• Getting featured as a winner on the competition’s website
• Getting creditability as a winning designer

There are definitely a number of benefits to gain from joining contests, however, they are challenging and you need to be well-prepared unless you want to lose. As the proverb says “Failing to prepare is a preparing to fail”. Therefore, there are some steps to consider before signing up for your first design contest.

When to start entering design contests?

When it comes to design contests, the questions most students ask are about how to enter a contest, while a more appropriate question would be “when to start signing up for contests?” The most important step here is to learn about your skills and if they are mature enough to compete with experienced designers.

There are many “general interest” design contests, while others focus on a specific field in design, such as poster design or logo design. You have to take part in the contest or the category that matches your experience the best. And for sure, you have to have the knowledge that helps you compete in the given category. If you are entering a logo design contest for instance, you have to have the theoretical and practical knowledge that your design will reflect.

How to muscle your talent before joining a contest?

In order to be well-prepared for a contest, the second step is to examine the previous winning works of the contest you would like to take part in. This will help you get an idea about the style of judging and the standards of the competition.

Generally, exploring the winners’ artwork and the designs exhibited in each contest can help you narrow down your thoughts and choose a design that will fit the theme of the contest. Furthermore, it can help you learn about the levels of competency and proficiency in the contest.

Competitions entry fees

Entry fees are an important factor to consider when choosing the design contest, especially when you are new to design competitions. Some design contests allow submitting the artwork free of charge, while others require you to pay a submission fee. The paid entry can vary depending on the number of submitted works and the submission category. For beginner designers, I would recommend that you start with free submission contests.

There are many design competitions around the world, some of these contests are well-known and winning them can boost your design credibility. Below are some of these famous design contests that you can review and consider entering.

AIGA Redesign Award

The AIGA Redesign Award is one of the most acknowledged contests in different design fields, such as poster design, book design, brochure design, website design, branding, information design, packaging, typography and more.

The contest allows international entries with translation support for non-English submissions. You can submit up to 5 files in JPG or PDF formats. The entry fee is $45 for AIGA members and $65 for non-members.

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Adobe Design Achievements Award

The Adobe Design Achievements Award (ADAA) is one of the most famous contests for designers organized with Adobe Systems Inc. that focuses on the students from different universities and art schools. It has different categories such as graphic design, photography, interactive design, illustration, animation, digital filmmaking, game developing, and more.

The contest is open to students and fresh graduates to submit up to 3 works in each category with a limit of 36 entries for each student.

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Communication Arts Competitions

Communication Arts magazine is one of the oldest magazines in the design industry and it celebrates a number of awards in design, advertising, interaction design, illustration, and photography.

Each of the above categories is a separate contest that you can enter individually on different dates. The contest requires the submission of fresh artwork that has been created in the year of announcing the contest. The entry fees vary according to the number of submissions. A single entry costs $35, while multiple submissions cost $70.

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HOW magazine competitions

HOW magazine is a famous design magazine that provides a series of design competitions in a number of categories including poster design, interactive design, promotion and marketing, logo design, and more.

In the HOW contest, you can submit one artwork with 3 image previews that represent your work. The entry fees vary from $75 for a student entry to $190 for multimedia campaigns.

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Creativity International Awards

The Creativity International Awards is an acknowledged competition that is open to the wide audience of graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, publishers, and more. The contest has two different entry fee categories for professionals and students. The professional fee is $95 for a single submission and $125 for multiple submissions. The student fee is $45 for a single submission and $75 for multiple submissions.

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In addition to the above competitions, there are other contests that you can check out and join, such as:
Andy Awards
Campaign Big Awards
Cresta Interactive Advertising Awards
Mobius Awards

In sum, graphic design competitions are a good chance for designers to prove their talent and creativity in the market. While there are many contests to join in different fields, it is important to be well-prepared before submitting your artwork for judgment to any of them.