Maybe you think you don’t have time. Maybe you think it’s a waste of time. “Why bother? Those design competitions are rigged!” To be honest, I believe some can be unfair. That’s why I suggest staying away from the ones that depend solely on the amount of social votes to win. “It’s a promotional gimmick.” To some extent, yes it is. Hosting a competition is a great way to promote a company or product, but the promotion can work both ways. This is also an opportunity for you to showcase your skills. Imagine the exposure (and bragging rights) you will receive if you win. Getting the grand prize probably won’t hurt either.
Even if you don’t win, there is always a chance you can get some new fans in the process, those other artists in the competition who admire your style. Become inspiration and be inspired. Find artists that intrigue you too and that you want to connect with. Some platforms allow you to create profiles and follow other artists. Start a design dialogue. Some artists are eager to discuss techniques and processes.
Use the competition as your creative outlet. Take a break from the usual rigor of work and make something fun, just for you. Even if your daily job is creative (lucky you), sometimes it’s nice to be your own client. Of course you have to adhere to the rules of the competition, but even those tend to be really liberal. You can even take this opportunity to experiment, try a new style or technique. Right now Threadless is hosting a competition Art Without Concept where anything goes; the only requirement is that you make something that looks nice.
Whatever you do, put your best effort forward. You can end up with amazing pieces to use in your portfolio, as personal artwork, or even retail. Check the terms and conditions of the competition. If you are unsure of the company hosting the contest, do a little research.
Bottom line, there are many benefits to entering design competitions. If you follow me on facebook, sometimes I post ones I find interesting. Right now I recommend the TEN Collection Contest by Fotolia, deadline February 10, 2014. Choose a theme and challenge their artists using at least three of the images Fotolia provides. There are prizes worth thousands up for grabs.
Here’s my piece from a contest I entered last year, Veer’s Bad Stock Photo Monster Mash-up. It was a part of a Halloween promotion and their campaign to rid the world of bad stock photography. You had to use at least two of the bad stock provided to create something scary with a touch of humor. I used these three: