Top tips for making design awards work for you


Celebrating the most inspiring illustration throughout the world, The World Illustration Awards (WIA) is the most prestigious illustration award globally. Entries are accepted in eight categories, covering the breadth of illustration. Last year's winners recognise the awards as a valuable career boost – here three of them share their top tips for winning.

Stand out 

"When entering a competition, think of what stands out in your portfolio," Gallagher advises

Illustrator Brian Gallagher's work has developed over many years. He studied Illustration/Graphics at Bristol Polytechnic and graduated in 1989. In 2016, Gallagher won the Public Realm category at the World Illustration Awards.

Gallagher believes that when entering a competition you should think of what stands out in your portfolio. Often the really notable work are from projects that Gallagher finds “are the ones I really enjoyed working on any way".

He continues: “The exposure from these competitions puts you in front of an international art buying audience and leads to all sorts of collaborations. It was a real honour to be selected from such a brilliant pool of international illustration talent. The exhibition was inspiring. I've had a good bit of publicity due to it, which will I am sure lead to further interesting commissions.”

Building bridges

Awards offer no shortcuts to success, but they do help build bridges to it

Artist Julian Mallia was the Advertising category award winner (New talent). "My top tips for anyone thinking about submitting to the WIA 2017 would be:

  • Submit the work you believe most in – not the work for the most prestigious client
  • There’s nothing to lose and a lot to gain in being amongst great illustrators and industry professionals
  • There are no shortcuts to success but the WIA might help you build more bridges to get somewhere closer to it

Mallia recognises that being a category winner “was a definite boost in morale and it gave me more insight on which kind of work resonates more powerfully with an audience. It felt like a formal acknowledgement from impartial industry professionals that I’m doing work that matters. Additionally, the experience of being amongst such skilled illustrators was humbling, enriching and also inspiring.”

Improve your chances with the simple law of probability

Don't just stop at one, enter a few pieces of work to improve your chances of winning

Fraser Shiers is director at Forge and Morrow, a digital image making studio specialising in 3D illustration and typography. Frasers top tips for entering awards are to:

  • Enter a few different pieces. You might as well start by improving your chances with the simple law of probability. We entered 3 different pieces of work in last years World Illustration Awards (all within the professional advertising category)
  • Tell the story of your process. Professional work can often be produced under difficult conditions and tight constraints. If you turned around a masterpiece overnight then there’s no harm in saying so.
  • Which piece(s) to select? Go with your gut. You’ll probably have personal favourites. The pieces we enter for awards are usually the ones we’re most pleased with. Posting work to social media sites like Behance and Instagram can be a good barometer for gauging peer reception/reaction to different pieces and can give a useful steer for selecting which work to enter for awards.

You can find out more about the The World Illustration Awards 2017 here.

Related articles: