5 Tips to Become a Winning Designer

Our top editors reveal their secrets to help you create a better, more powerful art for industry-leading design campaigns and increase your odds of winning big. From preliminary research to finding the right artistic inspiration, here are 5 fast tips stay ahead of the competition as you create:

#1 Follow the rules

Ever try to put IKEA furniture together without the instructions? Yeah, you don’t want to go there– and the same applies to design contests. Read the rules listed on a contest’s Project Brief page (see sample) to avoid being disqualified completely.

What’s the #1 rule we see broken? Copyright infringement and the use of non-original artwork. Every client is different, but in some cases, contests don’t allow the use of certain elements like trademarked slogans, artistic renderings of characters associated with a show, or photographs.

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1st Place Winner for The Big Bang Theory Design Contest, by HungCreations

The Big Bang Theory had several rules, including a restriction against character use within designs. Many high-quality designs failed to meet this rule, preventing them from being accepted.

#2 Research the client

It’s important to know who you are designing for. We don’t expect every artist to share the same style as a brand’s existing look and feel, but doing a little research to see how your art can present the best match to current merchandise and materials will help you create a design they love and increase your odds of winning.

We recommend taking a look at the social media profiles of or existing designs associated with a client or brand to get a better idea of what they might be looking for. Most of time, a client’s winning choices depend on what the art will be used for. Think about the type of merchandise a design would look good on. Something that looks good on a record player, might not look good on a t-shirt.

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1st Place Winner for the CBGB Design Contest, by Gleb Ottyagov

Designers did an excellent job incorporating the elements of music and the New York punk rock scene into their designs for CBGB.

#3 Find inspiration

Before you start, dig through our Explore page to find examples of past winners and our editor’s top rated designs to see what usually works and what won’t. Keep in mind every work should be original, but this is a wonderful resource to get your imagination rolling!

#4 Speak to the fans

Not literally. Here’s your time to put down the phone and take a moment to think about what kind of design a contest’s fan and consumer market would love. To determine if you artistic style makes a good match for a particular contest, revisit our suggestion in Step 2. Think about the demographics of that fan base, including age group, location, and related interests.

#5 Stay in the loop

We help to coordinate the relationship between a client and a winning designer. Sometimes a client may have minor edits or need additional files, so high quality and timely work can mean all that stands in the way of future gigs. Even if you don’t win, be sure to stay subscribed to our emails and check back frequently to see if you have received any requests from us.

In fact, even after a contest closes, a large number of our non-winning designs have earned money on their high-quality designs when a client is looking for additional art. Many times a client loves a particular designer’s work so much they ask for multiple iterations of the same design. Even years later, clients such as Sublime with Rome, Blue Blood Rivalry, Rick & Morty, Orange is The New Black, and Slightly Stoopid have reached out to us to ask for more designs.

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1st Place Winner for Sublime with Rome, by Wazzup Catita

The submissions to this design contest were so awesome, our client came back to purchase even more designs for new concert series.

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