Saturday, March 31, 2007

Many will enter, few will win

Spring has arrived, and with it the first signs of life from the design community's winter slumber: the design competitions.

BSCO staff noticed that this spring, the trend in design competition deadlines seems to be to extend the deadline. That might be a good sign, that the design community is busy with work and too busy to pay attention to competition deadlines, or too frugal to pay for entry fees.

Exactly what is a design competition anyway? With our tongues firmly planted in our cheek, BSCOdm has these observations and predictions:

Design competitions come in two flavors: exploitative and ego-boosting. Or maybe that's the same flavor.
  • It's to feed your ego: C'mon, you know that deep down inside, it's true.
  • Competitions exploit the designer: WIRED magazine and Beefeater are looking for free creative development, with a token prize for the winner.
The more common design competition requests entries (for a fee) to be submitted to a panel of judges (with or without relevance to the work) who evaluate the entries (based on a set of criteria known only to them at the time). Context, anyone?
  • Again, it feeds your ego: When was the last time you gained a client from being published in an annual?
  • A design competition isn't to compete, it's a fund raiser: Without a doubt, competitions are a revenue stream. And sell magazines. Admit it, how many articles do you actually read? But it's fun to look at all those pictures, isn't it?
  • It's a way to archive the best work in the industry: At the AIGA, work submitted is entered into the Design Archives, to chronicle the best in design. That is, the best in design that was submitted (and accepted) into the competition.
  • It benefits the designer: We predict that the AIGA competition annual (a benefit of AIGA membership), currently sized at approximately 5 x 6 inches, will continue to shrink until it is the size of a matchbook.
  • These archives support R&D: That's right, we mean rip off & duplicate. If the pictures are big enough.
  • We predict: Next year, all of the competitions will simply publish work from previous years. Nobody will notice.
We confess, BSCO is guilty at times of indulging in these endeavors. Our favorites are Print, HOW, LogoLounge, and Rockport Publishing.

Our final prediction: Many will enter, few will win. You're all winners in our book.

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