What makes a good design competition?

Lately more and more design competitions are emerging. Some of them lead to design postions, internships or recognition among peers. others only cash prizes. This leads me to wonder, who really wins in design competitions?

Does having the “award winning” logo next to a project in your portfolio really pay off in the end? Or does the corporation who is now supplied with thousands of free concepts win? How can we, as designers, level this playing field, or is the cash reward enough?

Not to toot my own hor but i’ve placed in quite a few competitions, but who remembers the guy who submitted the entry…?

theres a pretty good article, fairly recent in the articles section about this topic.

It mentions that if your goal is to win money, or get a job, contests aren’t really for you. If you would like to sharpen your skills, and do something you enjoy than contest it up.

I’ve always thought having that little logo lets a prospective employer know, other people think your design was decent.

As far as on the corporate side, the idea is probably less than half the battle, and unless you provide detailed manufacturing drawings, parts suppliers, cost analysis, marketing plans blablabla with your entry its not exactly instant cash for them either.

I’d say the corporations that sponsor design competitions are clear winners. They want a well thought out ideas that are FREE. If you look carefully at the fine prints all submissions, for the most part, become the property of the sponsor. It’s not like we, designers, have agents to negotiate the terms.

My professors at Syracuse were very opposed to design competitions because they exploit design students, but left the choice to us to enter or not.

Sure, design students (if they win) do get something back, but it does not measure up to what the sponsors get.

Not all design competitions take ownership of your work, but many do. I know at school that was one of the criteria that our professors would use for any competitions that were done as part of class.

I know there were several that I looked to enter and then wound up finding the same fine print thats essentially “Thanks for being a design consultant for free. If you’re lucky maybe you’ll get a t-shirt”

I’m not a fan of most comps, they are more often than not exploitive. The Bombay Sapphire comp is an interesting example of a fairly positive variant. Its more to do with brand adverting than mass production.

there are rumblings in the graphic design community regarding all the logo design competition sites.
iirc the AIGA has rules about spec work and comps…where is IDSA in this?

why is threadless ok? (i’m a fan of this type of comp.)

ideas are abundant. execution is key. where is the line? what should the community support? or is it completely out of our hands?

Ideas are not protected by law. Expressions thereof are!!! Hence, the need for design competitions.

Last month my boss (who’s background is in marketing) came to me wanting to issue a student based design competition. As i sat in the board room with the other “pencilpushers” everything came up besides the benefit to the students. At the end he made the most costly mistake and gave me the final say in the direction we should go. Friday i have to go back and present a contest basis, or scrap the whole concept. I wanted to, “give back”, so i figured I’d ask those with totally different agenda’s what they would want.

Any REALISTIC suggestions…?

instead of a comp…how about a co-op. Working with a group of students is a great win/win. You can get a injection of fresh ideas from the students while they get some real world experience. The internet makes it temping to just dump a spec out into the ether and see what comes back, but its no real way to collaborate, you want a healthy back and forth.

  1. No entry fee;
  2. Design idea and concept remain property of the student;
  3. All submissions will be given a receipt from the company;
  4. All submisions will be returned if student sends an envelope with paid postage;
  5. All winners will be given an opportunity to further develop his/her submission with the company with pay; and
  6. Bigger prize money or option to license the idea/concept.

This could be cool

-no entry fee, but one entry per person or team
-intelectual property of student, and transfers to company with acceptance of prize money, student will then be given a royalty later if produced
-prize money, or paid internship or both

why should the company do this?

zippyflounder, why don’t you be the devil’s advocate and tell us why this would be good? Really. I have a ton of answers having negotiated real life deals.

I’ve taken into consideration all that has been posted…thank you all…and will be submitting the proposal to include a co-op for the winner, as well as the prize money. The other suggestions are good, but would stall the project.

if the contest becomes a reality, post a link to it here in this forum, that could be a cool way to see some of the input put into action. Plus contests that are put together by someone who is considering mutual benefit are always fun

I see no benifit from the company as it forces the company to invest or reward the “winner”, and the winner may be total rubbish…depending on the entrents. For any company operating under the “All winners will be given an opportunity to further develop his/her submission with the company with pay; and
6. Bigger prize money or option to license the idea/concept.” clause they must have the abilty to say NO WINNER.