13 November 2006
Helmut Langer
Helmut Langer

Part 2: International Design Award Schemes (continued)

Cost-benefit analysis, hints and tips
If the competition conforms to the international guidelines and regulations, and you are thinking of participating, find out the total costs (including any follow-on costs, should you be among the winners, and not forgetting the sometimes not insubstantial postage costs for abroad). Then you think over if these costs are in proper relation to the difficult-to-assess prospects of success (inclusion in the exhibition, annual etc., or receipt of an award or prize). In this context it should be mentioned that some organisers publish marketing offers, e.g. discounts for early submissions. The given period is, however, mostly too short and goes against the minimum one-month period allowed.

Consider client involvement
The designer can talk to the client for whom the work was done about entry in the competition. That company could then contribute to the costs, or take on all the expenses involved. So, alongside the question of what benefit competition success brings to the designer, you can also consider what benefit it will have for your client.

If the client is involved in entry for the competition, then the designer should consider just what expectations that client may have. If no prize is won, what effect will this have on the designer's future work with that client?

Assess carefully the publicity value
Consider whether the competition you are entering has real publicity power, by using 'publicity labels', e.g. "Awarded at..." or "Selected by..." for you and for your client? Should you turn out to be one of the winners. Is it a well-known competition, is it highly regarded? The answer to this question will of course differ from one field to another in the design world and from one country to another. Very different constellations exist in terms of the relevance and acceptance of competition awards.

Does an award really bring benefits to a designer? Or does success only really feed the ego, one's own pride? Do the possible benefits compensate for the costs of participation? Or could you use that money in another way for more targeted and efficient PR and acquisition activities?

Similar regulations for regional and national competitions
The international rules governing the professional standards and fairness of international, i.e. worldwide, competitions apply equally to competitions at continental and national level. The only exception is the requirement to have an international jury.

Continent-wide competitions need only a continental jury, e.g. an Asian competition only has to have a Asian jury, or a Latin-American competition requires a Latin-American jury drawn from the various countries in Latin America.

A multinational competition, open to only a restricted number of countries, needs a multinational jury from these countries.

A bi-national competition (covering two countries) needs to have a bi-national jury drawn from the two countries.

A national competition needs only a national jury.

Good luck to all, who are going to participate in an award scheme.


About this article 
Part 2 of this multi-part article was originally published in novum 08/04 and is re-published with permission.

Part 1 can be read on the previous Icograda Feature page.

In Part 3 of the 'Competitions...' series, read about International Design Competitions, to obtain original and unpublished design work to a given project or theme.

About Helmut Langer
Helmut Langer was President and member of the board of Icograda from 1987 to 1993. Since 1993, he has been advising as international competition expert to Icograda and to international organisers of competitions. Helmut has served as juror at many competitions around the world. He received many prizes and awards for his design works, but he no longer takes part in design award schemes, since he is acting as international competition expert. Beside his design work for international organisations and companies he is passing on his experience and know-how as guest professor at various universities worldwide; currently he is a guest professor at Nagoya University of Arts in Nagoya/Japan.

Because of the global concern about raising competition standards, Langer's 'Competition' article is being published world-wide. The article will be published or has been published in German (NOVUM magazine Germany), Chinese (PACKAGE & DESIGN, China and DESIGN in Taiwan), Spanish (several design magazines in Latin America), Korean (DESIGN IN KOREA, South Korea), Russian (KAK magazine, Russia), Japanese (DESIGNERS' WORKSHOP magazine, Japan), and in several other magazines and designers' information services.

About novum
novum - WORLD OF GRAPHIC DESIGN is an international magazine for communication design (German/English). The first issue was published in 1924 - the magazine celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2004. Each month novum shows the best works in graphic design, packaging, web design, advertising, editorial design, illustration and features special topics like trade fair design, orientation systems, typography, event design and many others.