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 2020 through January 2021 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.
2021 Illustration Jury
Nigel Buchanan, illustrator, Queenstown, New Zealand
Brian Danaher, art director/designer/illustrator, St Paul, Minnesota
Mirabel Fawcett, editorial designer, The Economist, London, United Kingdom
William Gicker, director of stamp services, United States Postal Service, Washington, DC
Jay Grandin, partner/creative director, Giant Ant, Vancouver, Canada
Dian Holton, senior deputy art director, AARP Media, Washington, DC
Maria Middleton, art director Candlewick Press/Walker Books US, Somerville, MA
Gloria Pizzilli, illustrator, Florence, Italy
Nok Sangdee, creative director, VMLY&R, Chicago, IL
Whitney Sherman, illustrator/educator/
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.
What To Enter
Any illustration first published or produced from January 2020 through January 2021 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 Time), January 8, 2021. Entries registered after that date require a late fee of $10 per entry. No entries can be registered after January 22, 2021.
Each illustration is a single entry. Campaigns or series are limited to five illustrations and must be created for the same project.
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 format with a maximum file size of 2MB.
Motion/Animation Entries: Must be in MOV, MP4 or MPG format, with a maximum file size of 500MB.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for bank information.
All entry submissions are final and entry fees are nonrefundable.
Mail checks 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 8, 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 January 22, 2021.
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 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 email@example.com 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.
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?
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.
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. Each juror views a portion of all the entries independently, choosing “in” or “out” for each piece. 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 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.