This is next part of Douglas Okasaki's column exclusively for www.newspaperdesign.ning.com
By Douglas Okasaki
Senior information graphic specialist
Don’t rest on your laurels Malofiejunderscores during its 20th Malofiej International Infogaphics Awards. Malofiej urges the design community to continue thinking of creative ways to improve their work and join in design competitions. But the question is why should we participate? Of course it is not only to boost designers and journalists’ ego or confidence, but also to motivate and develop ourselves especially in the visual design category.
If there were no competitions or recognitions, the design profession simply goes unnoticed and not so challenging. To receive an award is an incentive for designers to excel and push one another. All design competitions serve as a moral booster to the design industry.
Who did that page? Who did that design or redesign? Who did that illustration? Who is the Art Director? Who made this infographic? From which country? The committees of design competitions raise these questions and the answers might point at you if you are the creator. It means you are the best and you deserve it because you did something different, creative and great.
It is quite easy to say, “We wereSNDworld's best and from now on we will not compete anymore; we don't need to prove anything for nobody.” It's a good excuse for the publication to stay away from the daily battle for the best story-telling design. But it is a big mistake because the competition is not to prove one thing, but to show, to present, and to share the best solution and layout for your publication. Thus, it is of paramount importance to continue taking up the challenge to ensure you maintain topnotch standard and be ahead of the rest.
Here are the 10 reasons to participate in design competitions
1) Design competition shows the trends, share solutions and alternative of solving problems and raise discussion and opinion about the specific design
2) Highlights professionals that are doing outstanding work
3) To be an award winner publication is a very positive aspect for the publication’s marketing business
4) Your work/page will be recognized worldwide distributed in the book or online
5) Professional group will notice you that you did that award page and most likely can offer you a better job opportunity
6) Not only for designers but also for journalists, editors and reporters can be better visually-oriented and learn from the award winner designs and pages
7) Awards can make a big difference in your resume, and art directors appreciate and consider your portfolio when they are hiring a new designer
8) Awards can put you and your publication in the world map.
9) Motivates designers to improve and bring out the best in them
10) Can be an incentive to keep the design quality through the years
There are aplenty of international competitions that appraise design such as theIFRA, SND, SPD, Art Directors Club, Typography Club, Malofiej (Infographics). The best characteristic of Society for News Design Competition is the conversation between the participants and the judges on sharing different viewpoints. You can learn a lot from their perspectives and references that are published in its annual book.
Don’t forget that the main idea of competitions is not to prove how strong is your publication or how efficient is the art director, but to show and share the best creative solution for the page and story-telling to be well presented. Equally important is to recognize professionals work for the outstanding quality and solution for the specific work will create a positive work environment and get your creative juices flowing.
What’s more difficult than to win awards is to maintain the design quality through the years. This aspect is not only about personal designer’s strengths but the management (art and creative directors) is responsible for the motivation and encouraging their staff. Motivated staff is not only a design department issue, it can also be a company problem; there should be fair salary, good working environment, invest in people and so on. Trying to solve the issue by department-wise is a good start.
A good relationship between the management (art and creative directors) and designers (staff) is very important to win in design competitions. Strengths, motivations, dialogues and plans do not come from the designer’s head alone; the design department is like a team, each player has a responsibility to achieve only one goal. And what’s the goal? Whatever your design department wants … but it needs a direction that only you will know with open communication and dialogues between the designers team.
So don’t rest on your laurels! More than an advice; it can be a design department’s motto to remember to be at the top that we need to keep moving and improving …