Design Competition Essentials

Would anyone be willing to share their experience(s) with regards to design competitions? I am looking for the dos and don’ts when it comes to submitting to design contest/competitions.


Having judged a few competitions, won a few, and lost a bunch, I can say that a lot of it is just so subjective based on who the judges are and how they work together.

One general rule of thumb would be to keep your visuals simple, impactfull, and communicative. When reviewing tons of entries, the memorable ones stand out.

yeah, I always wonder who goes through those 4000+ entries at a designboom comp.
I am pretty sure it’s not the superstar jury…

1.) read terms and conditions

2.) view and analyse past entries, with respect to other designed work that is out there. I mean, look at design catalogues and at the same time, look at competition winners. What do they have in common?

My experience consists of losing a few competitions, and it’s pretty hard to predict which kind of entries will win. Unfortunately, most of the time it seems that very gimmicky things win. I’m not going to go into the actual competitions or designs because i don’t want to bring anyone’s designs down, but I have seen number 1 winners that are ideas which are already in production (the styling was different of course, but it was the same type of device). I’ve seen finalists in competitions whose rules stressed real world practicality and usability that were unmanufacturable and unusable. a popular design blog and forum held a competition a few years back whose winner appeared to be some sort of a 7th grade science fair project.

Basically, it really has to be kept pretty simple to get past the minions who preselect the designs for the star jury. at the same time it needs to appeal to the type of jury that is judging. manufacturers competitions with a jury made up of corporate board members tend to select stuff that could conceivably be manufactured tomorrow, while website competitions judged by performance artists and rayban wearing capital D Designers and the such need to elicit a response of “whoa man, that’s totally rad”

BUT! the most important thing is delivery of your message and design. the rendering needs to look good, and the copy needs to be clear and to the point. try to take advantage of fads and trends. be pretentious, but not too pretentious.

anyway, don’t take my word for any of this, i’ve never won any contests.