Enter the most prestigious competition for creativity in graphic design, the Communication Arts Design Competition. Any design project printed, published or aired for the first time from May 2020 through May 2021 is eligible. Selected by a jury of leading design professionals, the winning entries will be distributed worldwide in the Communication Arts Design Annual, in print and digital editions, and on commarts.com, assuring important exposure to the creators of this outstanding work.
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.
2021 Design Jury
Anna Farkas, graphic designer, Anagraphic, Budapest, Hungary
Michael Hester, principal/creative director, Pavement, Oakland, CA
Ashutosh Karkhanis, creative head/managing partner, Open Strategy & Design, Mumbai, India
Ray Lau, design director, Tomorrow Design Office, Hong Kong, China
Anna Minkkinen, executive creative director, Loyalkaspar, New York, NY
Silas Munro, partner, Polymode, Inglewood, CA
Deborah Osborne, cofounder/creative partner, Osborne Ross Design, London, United Kingdom
Amy Pastre, creative director/founding partner, SDCO Partners, Charleston, SC
Oliver Siegenthaler, chief creative officer, S&Co, Bogota, Colombia
Laura Stein, chief creative officer, Bruce Mau Design, Toronto, Canada
What to Enter: Information on eligibility, categories and fees.
How to Enter: Information on preparation of entries and forms.
Design Competition FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about applications and file formats.
Student Category FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about submitting student entries.
What to Enter
Any design project printed, published or aired for the first time from May 2020 through May 2021 is eligible. Publication means in a form of mass media exposed to a substantial audience. Entries may originate from any country, but we need an English translation for the jurors. Submission of entries acknowledges the right of Communication Arts to use them for publication and exhibition.
Design Competition Categories
These categories are judged by the Design jury and will appear in the Design Annual. For a list of fees, please download the category PDF:
Packaging: labels, shopping bags, audio/video/software packaging, etc.
Trademarks: single trademark or logo
Identity Guides: corporate identity manuals/style guides, brand strategy guides, etc.
Integrated Branding Programs: comprehensive identity programs. May include trademarks, business papers, websites, etc.
Business Papers: business papers for a single company
For Profit Annual Reports: annual report for publicly-traded companies
Non-Profit Annual Reports: annual report for nonprofit organizations
Institutional Brochures: institutional/corporate/social responsibility/booklet or brochure
Product/Service Brochures: product or service booklet or brochure
Product Catalogs: includes product images, descriptions, specifications, price etc.
School Catalogs: course catalog for colleges, universities or other educational outlets. Catalogs for art schools offering courses in visual communications belong in Self-Promotion
Exhibition Catalogs: brochure listing works at an art exhibition or book published to accompany an exhibit.
Miscellaneous Company Literature: conference literature, announcements, company invitation/greeting card, etc.
Posters: posters for exhibitions, institutional, theaters, movies, etc.
Editorial: consumer and trade magazines, newspapers, house organs/newsletters/association publications, etc.
Books: covers and complete books
Self-Promotion: promotion for design firms, printers, paper companies, art schools, illustrators and photographers
Self-Promotion for Design Clubs: promotion/communication for art/design clubs
Motion Graphics: program titles, event videos, animation, music videos, etc.
Public Service: work produced for nonprofits, including zoos, museums, orchestras, ballet companies, etc.
Environmental Graphics: signage, interiors, architectural graphics, exhibits, tradeshow booths, point-of-purchase displays, etc.
Personal Announcements: personal invitations/greeting cards/birth announcements, etc.
Calendars: calendars for sale or created for clients. Calendars created for self-promotion belong in Self-Promotion
Menus: single and series of menus created for establishments serving food
Miscellaneous: work not covered in previous categories
Student Work: work created for school assignments
Entries must be registered no later than Midnight (Pacific Time), May 7, 2021. Entries registered after that date require a late fee of $10 per entry. No entries can be registered after May 21, 2021.
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:
• Your contact information for registration and notification.
• Title and basic credits for each project.
• Digital files of work you want to submit. See below for file specs.
Entries can be submitted in the following formats:
Digital Images: Must be RGB in JPG or JPEG format with a maximum file size of 2MB.
Video Entries: Must be in MOV, MP4, MPG or MPEG format, with a maximum file size of 500MB.
PDF Entries: Must have a maximum file size of 50MB.
All entrants grant Communication Arts the right to reproduce work selected in the Design Competition on the Communication Arts website and in materials used to promote the magazine, the competition and/or future related promotions.
Forms and Entry Fees
Once you have completed the registration process, a PDF with an invoice will be generated.
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 Competition Fees”). 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 a copy of your invoice 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. If you would like to pay via Wire Transfer, please contact us at email@example.com for bank information.
All entry submissions are final and entry fees are nonrefundable.
Mail checks to:
Communication Arts Design 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 May 7, 2021 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 May 22, 2020.
Do you offer a cash prize?
We do not offer a cash prize. Each winning entrant will receive a personalized Award of Excellence trophy, milled from solid aluminum, and award certificates issued for firms, individuals and clients. The winners are also 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.
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 entries?
Once you register your entries on our online competition system and select a payment method you will receive a confirmation email.
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.
Can I enter one project into multiple categories?
Yes, as long as the project fits in each category you want 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.
Can I enter work in the single and series categories?
Yes, you can enter work as a series and the individual images as single entries.
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.
How do you want trademarks/logos presented?
Please include the client name and the nature of the business in the description field.
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?
You can register your entries online now and select that you are sending your payment by check. When the check is ready, please send it with a copy of your invoice.
How do I enter a website?
If you would like your project judged for its visual design, submit it as a series of captured screenshots in the Miscellaneous Design category of the Design Competition. If the website is part of an Integrated Branding Program, include the URL along with all of the other components of the campaign. If it is the entire website you want judged, enter it in our Interactive Competition.
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?
Each juror views a portion of all the entries independently, choosing “in” or “out” for each piece. Judges are not permitted to vote on work they were directly involved in. A majority vote is required for a project to move from the screening round into the finals round. For finals, the judges view each project that was voted into the finals round independently, choosing “in” or “out” for each piece. After the judges make their selections, their votes are tallied. A simple majority is usually the minimum requirement 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/print your receipt or invoice. If you need to access the receipt at a later date, sign-in to our competition system and under “My Account” click “Invoices”. You will be able to download and print receipts from any of our competitions you have previously entered.
Why don’t you accept print entries any more?
We have recently upgraded our competition system to an online-only judging process and can no longer accept printed entries.
Student Category FAQs
What can be entered in the Student Work category?
Any project created for a school assignment. We do not accept personal unpublished work in this competition.
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 Design Competition FAQs.