You’re at the top of your game, and you know your work deserves widespread recognition. With that said, the path to artistic success can be very confusing and strewn with obstacles. One of the best ways to gain a little extra exposure and prestige is via the graphic design awards scene, which places your work in the limelight and which can help propel your business into the fast lane. The following six competitions, all of which are open to international applicants, offer some of the most coveted accolades and frequently engender success for highly-rated entrants.
Communication Arts Design Competition
One of the most sought-after awards on this list, the Communication Arts Design Competition prize makes a sparkling addition to any designer’s list of achievements. It’s also a tangible keepsake: the winner gets a personalized Award of Excellence trophy made of shiny solid aluminum. Communication Arts lists the champion on its website and features the winning design in its digital and printed annual publication.
To enter, go to the Communication Arts website and complete the online competition registration process, or mail physical entries to the Communication Arts headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Entrance fees cost between $45 and $300 depending on the type of project, with discounts available for students. Submissions are due at the end of spring 2018. As well as the design competition, Communication Arts hosts annual typography, advertising, illustration, photography and interactive contests.
Every year, D&AD hosts four different competitions which celebrate outstanding design in several different arenas. D&AD Impact Awards highlight genuinely groundbreaking creative work in numerous categories, including diversity and equality, financial empowerment, urban living and humanitarian aid. D&AD Professional Awards deliver the organization’s enviable Yellow Pencil to select agencies and skilled freelancers. D&AD Next Awards partner with Getty and Adobe, focusing on rising talent in photography and direction, while D&AD New Blood Awards challenge up-and-coming designers to produce their best projects yet.
Submissions fees for D&AD Awards run between $100 and $400, depending on the competition, and creatives save up to 10 percent if they submit their designs early. The final deadline for entries is February 2018, and the D&AD awards ceremony happens in April 2018.
The RSA Student Design Awards
Budding designers looking for a lift and a little peer feedback submit projects to the RSA Student Design Awards every year. Held for almost a century, this UK-based design competition has 12 categories and offers in the region of £32,000 in prize money and paid internships to its contest winners. You’re an eligible contender if you’re enrolled in college either part time or full time anywhere in the world. Recent graduates are also allowed to submit projects.
Entering the RSA Student Design Awards costs between £25 and £35, and entries are due by March 2018. Judges examine submissions between March and May, and winners are announced on June 1st, with an awards ceremony later in the year.
International Design Awards
Founded in 2007 by a group of bright entrepreneurs, creatives and thoughtful people, the International Design Awards recognizes and honors intelligent and sustainable multidisciplinary design. Various categories, including architectural design, interior design, graphic design and product design take center stage, and the competition welcomes entries from both professional and student designers.
International Design Awards Graphic Design contest entry fees run between $30 and $50 depending on the scope of the project, and entries are due by the end of March, 2018. Prizes include the establishment’s coveted trophy, extensive newsletter promotion, use of the IDA seal on your website and a spot in the IDA Book of Designs.
AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers Contest
If you design graphic novels or cover art, the AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers competition might just be your dream come true. One of the most brag-worthy graphic design awards, this contest highlights the very best artwork from books published in 2017 and rewards its winners with various accolades, including a place in the Denver Art Museum and Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Collection.
Entry fees for the AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers competition total $40 for AIGA members and $60 for non-members. Late entries incur a $25 penalty fee, which you can avoid by submitting your book to AIGA by the beginning of February 2018. AIGA notifies its winners in the summer, and if you win, your book gets a spot in the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library at Yale University and at RBML at the Butler Library at Columbia University.
Red Dot Award: Communication Design Award
Effective creative projects usually convey as much information as possible to the viewer without sacrificing artistry in the process. Germany-based Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen celebrates creative excellence with its Red Dot Award: Communication Design Award every year, and welcomes entries from around the globe. There are 18 categories in the competition, which include advertising, typography, brand design and identity, and illustration.
To get started, submit your project along with the entry fee, which ranges from €195 to €315 depending on the submission type. Projects are due in June 2018 at the very latest. The very best entries get Red Dot awards, which include the Red Dot: Grand Prix award, and a spot in the Red Dot Design yearbook. Entrants to the Red Dot: Junior Prize, which has a €10,000 grand prize, get a 20 percent discount on entry fees.
Creatives often feel a little intimidated at the thought of design contests. After all, perfect strangers get to scrutinize and criticize their entries, comparing them against projects provided by a host of other talented designers. In general, however, artistic people tend to be far more self-critical than they need to be. If your designs don’t win immediately, you can build upon your early competitive experiences and use them to prepare for future success. So, go for it with gusto: you might just get the gold.