Can graphic design contests benefit your career?

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“I saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself … I felt that, in a best-case scenario, I might win or place high in one of the categories. In the worst case scenario, I would spend a lot of time creating a design that could be a nice show piece for our portfolio. But the goal was to try new things and challenge myself. Whatever happened, I would learn something along the way.” – Joe Diaz, winner of the 2011 CorelDRAW International Design Contest.

These days, it’s not hard to find a graphic design contest online. You may have even thought of entering one in the past, but wondered if the time investment was worth it. Well, we’re here to tell you that it is!

Whether you’re a full-time designer, freelancer or student, contests can help advance your career. It’s not always just about the prizes, although they can be pretty awesome, but rather the experience, exposure and critical analysis that comes from contests that you will find the most beneficial.

2011 CorelDRAW International Design Contest Winner - by Joe Diaz

2011 CorelDRAW International Design Contest Winner – by Joe Diaz

Here are some ways in which entering a design contest can benefit your career:

Exposure

Entering contests is a great way to get your designs in front of people who wouldn’t normally see them. In addition to being seen by judges (in most cases), your work will also likely go up on a website if it makes it to the final round.

That can expose your work, and you as a designer, to a whole new audience. It can also get more visitors to your website or online portfolio. This kind of exposure can lead to clients or employers approaching you for work, if they like what they see. You never know who is looking for some design work.

Portfolio Material

Not only does your work get exposed to more people, but you also have more work to display. If you’re looking to build your portfolio and post it online, contests are the perfect opportunity for you.

Regardless of how you do in the contest, you are creating more material to show what you are capable of. Winning designs are a hot commodity when it comes to portfolio elements. Showcasing something that was critically acclaimed in the eyes of industry professionals not only shows people what you can do, but that your work is highly rated.

2013 CorelDRAW International Design Contest Winner - by Alexei Oglushevich

2013 CorelDRAW International Design Contest Winner – by Alexei Oglushevich

Feedback

If you’ve asked your friends to look at your designs, you know that not everyone is a critic. It’s hard to find people (with an eye for design) who will tell you what they actually think of your work.

Submitting your work to a contest gets it in front of industry professionals. They know what makes an effective advertisement or logo, and aren’t afraid to share their opinions. If you are able to receive feedback from judges, it can greatly

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