Introduce your work to the world. Enter the most prestigious competition for creativity in illustration, the Communication Arts Illustration Competition. Any illustration first published or produced from January 2017 through January 2018 is eligible. Selected by a nationally representative jury of distinguished designers, art directors and illustrators, the winning entries will be distributed worldwide in the Communication Arts Illustration Annual, in print and digital editions, and on commarts.com, assuring important exposure to the creators of this outstanding work. As a service to art directors, designers and art buyers, a comprehensive index will carry contact information of the illustrators represented.
Each winning entrant will receive a personalized Award of Excellence, milled from solid aluminum, and award certificates issued for firms, individuals and clients.
CA’s Award of Excellence is one of the most-coveted awards in the industry. If chosen, winning places you in the highest ranks of your profession.
2018 Illustration Jury
Chad W. Beckerman, creative director, Abrams Kids/ComicArts, New York, NY
Emily Kimbro, design director, Texas Monthly, Austin, TX
Sarah Labieniec, creative director/owner, Lab Partners, San Francisco, CA
Hylton Mann, creative director/illustrator, Juniper Park/TBWA, Toronto, ON
Victo Ngai, illustrator, Los Angeles, CA
Read a behind-the-scenes look at how our competitions are judged.
What to Enter: Information on eligibility, categories and fees.
How to Enter: Information on preparation of entries and forms.
Illustration Competition FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about applications and file formats.
Student Category FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about submitting student entries.
Tips for Success: Seven things you should remember when entering our competitions.
What To Enter
Any illustration first published or produced from January 2017 through January 2018 is eligible. Entries may originate from any country. Descriptions in English are very important to the judges. Submission of entries acknowledges the right of Communication Arts to use them for publication and exhibition.
Illustration Competition Categories:
These categories are judged by the Illustration jury and will appear in the Illustration Annual. For a list of fees, please download the category PDF:
Advertising: ads, posters, music and product packaging, etc.
Books: covers, jackets, interiors, etc.
Editorial: consumer or trade magazines, newspapers, etc.
For Sale: posters, prints, greeting cards, licensing/stock, gallery sale, online store, etc.
Institutional: company/association publications, annual reports, catalogs, client websites, blogs, etc.
Motion/Animation: time-based media for film, television, video or web, etc.
Self-Promotion: promotion for illustrators, design firms, ad agencies, art schools, printers, paper companies, etc.
Unpublished: experimental/personal work not published.
Student Work: illustration or animation created for school assignments.
Entries must be registered no later than Midnight (Pacific Standard Time), January 5, 2018. Entries registered after that date require a late fee of $10 per entry. No entries can be registered after January 19, 2018.
Each illustration is a single entry. A printed piece with several illustrations must have a dot or some other mark indicating which specific single illustration is to be judged. If a single illustration isn't indicated, the entry will be disqualified.
Campaigns or series are limited to five illustrations. If the entry has more than five illustrations, indicate which five are to be judged. If this isn't indicated, the entry will be disqualified.
How to Enter
All competition entries are processed through our online competition system.
Before you begin the process of entering a competition, please have the following information and materials ready. This will make the process go quickly:
Please submit only one version of each entry (i.e.: do not send printed copies if you already uploaded digital files of the same entry). Entries can be submitted in the following formats:
Print Entries: Must be unmounted and sent to our office by mail/courier. Each illustration is a single entry. A printed piece with several illustrations must have a dot or some other mark indicating which specific single illustration is to be judged. If a single illustration isn't indicated, the entry will be disqualified. Campaigns or series are limited to five illustrations. If the entry has more than five illustrations, indicate which five are to be judged. If this isn't indicated, the entry will be disqualified. Do not tape series together. Any project over 18" x 24" must be submitted as digital images.
Digital Images: Must be RGB in JPG format with a maximum width of 1024 pixels and a maximum height of 768 pixels at 72 dpi. NO EXCEPTIONS. Digital images will be projected for the judges using an HD projector on a 6' x 4' screen.
Motion/Animation Entries: Must be in MOV, MP4 or MPG format, with a maximum file size of 1 GB. Include 4 seconds of black, no slates or bars, at the beginning of each video and 2 seconds at the end.
No entries will be returned. NO EXCEPTIONS. CA is not responsible for damage or loss of any entry. All entrants grant Communication Arts the right to reproduce work selected in the Illustration Competition on the Communication Arts website and in materials used to promote the magazine, the competition and/or future related promotions.
Preparation of Packages
All pieces sent in physical form must have an entry form taped to the back of the work. Do not send work in poster tubes as they are frequently damaged in transit. Non-United States contestants should mark each package "Materials for Contest Entry. No Commercial Value." No provision will be made by Communication Arts for U.S. Customs or airport pickup. International entries should be sent by post or international courier. All entries must be received by the final deadline date.
Forms and Entry Fees
Once you have completed the registration process, a PDF with a receipt or invoice and entry forms for physical submissions will be generated. You must print, trim and attach the entry forms to the back of your physical entries. If the entry is a print-based campaign, you will tape an entry form to each piece included in the campaign. Entries on disk require an entry form taped to the outside of each disk case. Multiple digital files may be placed on a single disk. Please tape all applicable entry forms one on top of the other so we can flip through them to verify the contents of the disk. Do not send any entries without entry forms attached.
We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and PayPal through our online competition system. Charges for your entry fees will appear on your statement as (“Commarts”). We also accept checks, international money orders and wire transfers. Make checks payable to Communication Arts. Non-United States contestants wishing to pay by check must send a check in U.S. funds drafted on a U.S. bank. Please include the check or money order with your entries if you are delivering them via mail/courier. If your payment is being sent under a separate cover, please include a note with your entries indicating that the check or money order is coming under separate cover. If you submit all of your entries online, please send a copy of the invoice you print out at the end of the entry process with the check or money order. Please note on wire transfers: We require an additional fee of $25 (U.S.) to cover fees charged by the banks to process the transfer.
All entry submissions are final and entry fees are nonrefundable.
Mail entries to:
Communication Arts Illustration Competition
110 Constitution Drive
Menlo Park, CA 94025-1107
(Via United States Mail, FedEx, UPS, etc. Entrants submitting from outside the U.S., please use an international courier.)
Notification of Acceptance
Only accepted entrants will be notified within two months after the final deadline date due to the number of entries we receive. Complete credits and any necessary material for the best possible reproduction in the Annual will be requested at that time.
If you have any other questions, you can reach us by:
Phone: (650) 326-6040
Fax: (650) 326-1648
Can I get an extension on the deadline?
After the January 5, 2018 deadline we will accept entries for two weeks but a late entry fee of $10 per submission is required. No entries can be registered after January 19, 2018.
Do you offer a cash prize?
We do not offer a cash prize. The winners are featured in one of our annuals distributed worldwide, in both print and digital editions, and on commarts.com, assuring important exposure to the creators of this outstanding work. Each winning entrant will also receive one personalized Award of Excellence, milled from solid aluminum, and printed award certificates for all creative contributors.
Can I submit my work via e-mail and just include a credit card number with it?
No, we do not accept entries via e-mail. All entries must be registered using our online competition system.
Will you confirm receipt of my package(s)?
Once we have received all your entries and payment, you will receive a confirmation e-mail. Until we have received everything, the best way to track your package(s) is to check with your carrier.
How do I edit an entry that has already been submitted?
If you need to change anything about your entry, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your entry set number.
Will my entries be returned?
Because of the number of entries we receive, it is not possible for us to return any of them.
If we submit digital files, do we also need to mail a copy of our entries?
No, we can only accept one version of the work. Either upload digital images or send printed materials. Do not submit both.
What is the best way to submit my entries, digital or print?
Use the format that you feel best showcases the work. However, we strongly recommend submitting printed examples of all multi-page projects. Any entries over one cubic foot or posters larger than 18" x 24" must be submitted as digital files.
Can I enter one project into multiple categories?
Yes. If you are sending printed materials we will need an additional copy and corresponding entry form for each category you wish to enter.
Can I enter my work as a series?
Yes, but all work in a series must be part of the same campaign. When works are submitted as a series they are judged together as a group. The overall strength of the series depends on each individual piece and its function within the campaign.
If my entry is accepted, what will you use for reproduction?
If your work is accepted we will request high-res reproduction materials at that time.
What do you mean by “unmounted”?
Please don't mount your project onto a board. Projects that are mounted become very heavy and are hard for us to handle.
The entry instructions state, “Do not send original pieces of art you want returned.” What does that mean?
It simply means that you should not send original illustrations or artwork because they will not be returned.
I have a single brochure/poster/self-promo piece that has several illustrations on it. Why is it a series and not a single entry?
The judges of the Illustration Competition are only judging the illustrations, not the typography, design or art direction. (Entrants who want the design or art direction of their pieces to be considered should enter them in the CA Advertising and Design Competitions.) Each illustration is a single entry. Therefore, a piece with several illustrations must be considered a series. There is a maximum of five illustrations in each series; if a piece is entered and there are more than five illustrations on it, the five that are to be judged must be marked in some way.
Where do we put creative credits?
We only need basic credit information during the judging process. If the piece is selected as a winner, we will ask for a full list of credits at that time.
I don't know which category to put my piece in?
Choose the category that you feel best fits your submission. If we feel another category is more appropriate, we will move it; your work will not be penalized or disqualified.
We're waiting on the check from our accounting department. Can we have an extension?
Please send your entries now, with a note saying that the check is coming under separate cover. If you submit all of your entries online, please include a copy of the invoice with the check.
Do you accept work on disk?
Yes, entries can be submitted on disk. Please review the information under How to Enter for size and formatting requirements. Digital images and videos can also be easily uploaded during the entry process.
What rights do I retain if my work is chosen?
You retain all rights to your images. If selected, you will need to grant us the right to reproduce the image or images for our online, digital and print-based publications.
How does the judging take place?
Judges are not permitted to vote on work they were directly involved in. Print entries are spread out on tables by category. Most categories require several room setups. Each juror views the entries independently. Any juror can put an entry into the final voting by picking it up from the table. Digital and motion entries are selected by checking an “in” or “out” column on prepared scoring sheets. For finals, print entries are again spread out on tables by category. Two paper cups, one white and one red, with slots cut in the bottom, are placed upside down to the right of each entry. White cups are for "in" votes, red cups for "out." Each juror votes with different colored ceramic tiles by putting his or her tile in the appropriate cup. After all the jurors finish voting on print, they move to another hall for digital files and motion entries. Again, voting is done by each juror checking the “in” or “out” column on scoring sheets. Meanwhile, in the print hall, a check of the tile colors tells the Communication Arts staff if a specific juror has missed a piece and he or she is called back to vote. After the judges make their selections, their votes are tallied. A simple majority is usually required for a finalist to be selected a winner.
When will we know if our entry was chosen?
If your entry is chosen we will notify you within two months after the final deadline date. Because of the number of entries we receive, we can only notify people whose work is accepted.
Will you supply a receipt for my entry fees?
Yes. Once you have selected a payment method for your entries, you will be able to download your receipt or invoice and entry forms (if applicable). If you need to access the receipt at a later date, sign-in to our competition system and click on “View My Entry Sets”. You will be able to download and print receipts from any of our competitions you have previously entered.
Student Category FAQ
What can be entered in the Student Work category?
Any project created for a school assignment. Personal unpublished work must be submitted in the Unpublished category.
The work must be completely original and not utilize content owned by another copyright holder unless the entrant has been granted specific usage rights. If a student project is selected and documentation of specific usage rights cannot be supplied, the project will be disqualified. Communication Arts is not liable for any copyright infringement on the part of the entrant, and will not become involved in copyright disputes.
Is there a discount for student entries?
Yes, there is a substantial discount for student entries completed as a school assignment. However, if work is entered after the initial deadline a late fee of $10 per entry will be added.
Can I enter one project into multiple categories?
If the work is entered in the Student Work category, it cannot be entered in other categories.
Should I enter my video entry as digital images and upload the video?
No. Do not upload screenshots of video entries. The jury will only judge the screenshots and not the video.
Questions about what to enter, how to enter and other frequently asked questions can be found in the Illustration Competition FAQs.
Tips for Success
1) Only send one version of each entry. If you upload digital files, we will not show the judges a printed version or video to go along with the digital images.
2) Digital files must be RGB in JPG format with a maximum width of 1024 pixels and a maximum height of 768 pixels at 72 dpi. NO EXCEPTIONS. Do not rotate vertical images to be horizontal.
3) All physical entries, printed entries or entries on disks, must have an entry form attached to the back. Do not send any work without an entry form attached. Entry forms will be automatically generated for you at the end of the submission process.
4) If you enter a project in multiple categories and wish to submit printed samples, you must send an additional sample for each entry with the corresponding form attached.
5) Pack entries carefully. Do not send work in poster tubes as they are frequently damaged in transit.
6) Each illustration is a single entry. A printed piece with several illustrations must have a dot or some other mark indicating which specific single illustration is to be judged. If a single illustration isn't indicated, the entry will be disqualified.
7) Campaigns or series are limited to five illustrations. If the entry has more than five illustrations, indicate which five are to be judged. If this isn't indicated, the entry will be disqualified.