Every year art college students pit themselves against each other in a series of design competitions. Amongst them is the well established D&AD Student Awards (Design and Art Directors), which has been running awards for professionals and students since 1962. This year’s briefs are a combination of advertising, packaging, typography, environmental design, illustration, and graphic design live projects, and there’s an open brief asking you ‘to make Peace Day an international day of recognition – and impossible to ignore. Go on, be a creative activist – your idea really can change the world’. You’ll need to register with D&AD to access their briefs, and the deadline is 9 March 2012.
The YCN (Young Creatives Network) Student Awards is a relative newcomer and has tended to favour illustration over graphic design, though this year there’s a lot more integrated design, multimedia, and branding amongst the 15 live creative briefs. Challenges on offer include packaging the perfect M&S picnic, create a piece of communication that promotes Triumph’s bra fitting service, or getting the young eating Heinz Salad Cream again. For full briefs see their website and the deadline for entries is 30 March 2012.
As a tutor I’ve supported students in getting D&AD gold awards in environmental design, animation, and photography, and several other silver awards and commendations over the years. In my opinion there’s two ways to win a design competition. Firstly, work out what they want and give them exactly that. This tends to be the obvious way of answering the brief and your success will depend on the quality of your finished piece. The second option is more high risk and relies on creative thinking – analyse the brief, identify the underlying issue, then apply yourself to answering that problem instead – basically you’re giving them something they didn’t know they wanted, which might or might not be a welcome surprise for the judges!
If you’re not feeling very competitive then you might just want to have a look at the briefs to see what’s expected of you and if you’re feeling adventurous, give them a go. Part time students are eligible to apply to both D&AD and YCN briefs, though there are submission fees for all the competitions mentioned.