4 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Design Contests Cover
Cassio Vieira

Cassio Vieira

4 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Design Contests

Are you someone looking to start a design contest in hopes of obtaining a new logo? Or are you a creative considering entering a design contest to flex your skills and win some cash? If you answered yes to any of those two questions, then you should think twice before doing so.

There are many design contests out there where you can design or commission for a poster, a logo, a package design, or a brand identity. At the end of a design contest, the winning artist receives payment and the client gets what they asked for. It might sound like a win-win for both the designer and client, but in reality, the whole process is risky and unethical.

Whether you’re someone looking for a specific design or you’re a designer thinking of participating, here are the four reasons why you should avoid design contests:

1) Speculative Work

You wouldn’t go to a restaurant and say, “Make me your finest burger for free. If I like it, then I’ll pay for my order.” Pull that line and you’re sure to be laughed out of the restaurant. The same goes for asking creatives for work.

Speculative work, or spec work, is free work done for a potential client in hopes that you’ll be compensated for it in the future. Design contests are built on this principle. There are so many creatives that enter these design contests that come out of it unpaid. You could have 100 entries for your design contest and payment would only go to one creative. If you’re going to ask for spec work, then you should compensate each designer fairly.

On the other hand, if you’re one out of 100 designers, then understand that you could easily be part of the 99% of artists who don’t get paid.

2) Risky Business

Design contests can be a very risky game. With multiple creatives from all over the world participating in a single contest, there runs a higher risk of at least one of the designs falling victim to plagiarism. Most likely, you don’t know who all these designers are and how trustworthy they can be.

There’s a possibility that the winning design that you chose is inauthentic. If you already paid the designer, or the artist of the original design comes after you, then this can be a very messy predicament. You can avoid this by researching every submitted design for plagiarism, which can be very overwhelming and time-consuming. Alternatively, you can just avoid design contests all together and hire a professional.

3) Non-personal

I mentioned in my reasons for hiring a professional designer that your experience with your graphic designer should feel personal. Design contests make no room for that. With so many individual artists submitting their respective designs, you have no incentive to build a relationship.

You should be a part of the artist’s design process. Aside from the design brief, by being a part of the process the designer can grasp a better understanding of what you want. You can both ask questions and bounce ideas off of one another. Doing so will ultimately result in the best outcome for the design. A solid relationship between designer and client is a recipe for success.

4) Waste of Time

If you’re a client looking to run a design contest, then you could be wasting your time with amateur work. There is no guarantee that all the work submitted to you will be satisfactory or hit the mark. You could run the chance that all of the designers participating in your contest are beginners treating this opportunity like it’s a school project. Therefore, you might waste your time only to receive a final design that leaves room for improvement.

As a designer, it is understandable that design contests can be a useful way to build upon your portfolio. However, for those looking to make cash off of their design, it can be a huge waste of time. At the end of the day, there’s only one chosen design and only one artist gets paid. Not winning the contest can be a big hit to your self-esteem, especially if you expected to come out of it on top.

As a logo and brand designer, I recognize all of the time and effort that goes into a design from start to finish. Therefore, not being paid at the end is unfathomable to me. Time is a person’s most valuable asset.

Have I made you change your mind about design contests? If you answered no, then I wish you luck. If you answered yes, then there is an alternative you can take on both ends of the spectrum.

For the client seeking an artist to design their big idea, hire a professional graphic designer. A professional will properly complete the job with the right steps, processes, and tools. Furthermore, they will save you all the headaches that a design contest can bring you.

As for my fellow designers, instead of entering a design contest, work on your own passion projects. If you’re a poster designer, then create a series of travel posters. Alternatively, if you’re a brand designer, then design a whole brand identity. With the right amount of effort, your passion project can turn into a paying gig.

There you have it: four reasons why you should avoid design contests. Interested in working on your dream design? Contact me today and we will discuss how to make your dream design become a reality!

All the best,

Cassio Vieira

Duvio Studio

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