Our 2016 Student Design Competition Official Rules

Our 2016 Student Design Competition Official Rules Every year we hold a Student Design Competition, and if you're a follower of this blog, you'll see many of our past student winners have gone on to some awesome jobs and experiences. 

Now's YOUR turn to get that same career jumpstart by entering our 2016 Student Design Competition! This annual competition is a special opportunity for you to win cash, exposure to a huge audience of amazing professional designers, and -- perhaps best of all -- a summer internship at a top magazine! 

The deadline is Monday, April 4, 2016 and we're sharing the categories and rules after the jump to get you started (the official Call for Entries can be downloaded here). 

Also be sure to check out the main information page here for lots of frequently asked questions, tips and to see previous winning work.

Below you will find the rules and categories for creating your design entries in our 2016 Student Design Competition. All the entry and payment details are HERE along with tips, FAQs, links to past entries and more. So check out that link and download the official Call for Entries/Entry Form PDF.

2016 Student Design Competition Official Rules
Pick one of the following 5 categories and design a 2-spread* story. We LOVE original photography and illustration, so if you can incorporate that, even better (some categories even require it). And who says you only have to pick one? Enter as many designs as you'd like! Don't forget, student members get their first 3 entries FREE!

***For all entries, you're designing a two-spread story ... a "spread" consists of two side-by-side pages (get more details here). For the purposes of this competition, each page should measure 8" wide x 10" tall. So when you put the two pages together, the spread will measure 16" wide x 10" tall.

News Magazine

This edgy news magazine is geared to the young professional and covers current events, politics, culture and even the arts. In its pages you'll find hard-hitting interviews, often with some of the most famous and infamous international figures.
HEADLINE: (Name of your person of choice here) Talks
DEK/SUBHEAD:  (You write the subhead ... check out various magazines for ideas).
BYLINE: By Janet Marion
Design a two-spread feature story for this magazine that is a Q&A interview with the person of your choice (it can be a real person or somebody you've made up). You don't have to fit all your questions on these two spreads, just imagine these 2 spreads are the first in a longer story. Consider using innovative infographics, charts and sidebars, and original illustrations.

How-To... Magazine

This new hip and fun magazine for the young post-graduate has a broad topic reach on how to improve your home, life and career.
HEADLINE:  (Fill in the Blank) Like A Pro
DECK/SUBHEAD:  Follow these few simple steps to become a master.
BYLINE: By F. C. Williams
Design a two-spread feature story in this magazine that gives step-by-step instructions on how to master the topic of your choice. You might want to include original illustrations, schematics and sidebars to make it easier to follow. Think of an innovative and fun way to approach your topic. You don't actually have to write the story, but use real text in display type.

Adventure/Travel Magazine

This independent magazine is for young professionals who love to explore cities around the world. It covers food, sightseeing spots and places to stay. It features beautiful photography and in-depth reporting on cultural hotspots such as museums and historic landmarks.
HEADLINE:  Exploring (Name of city or site of your choice)
BYLINE: By the Editors
Design a two-spread feature story for this magazine focusing on a specific area that is special to a city, such as a certain neighborhood, museum or a natural landscape. Think about ways to incorporate sidebars, maps, timelines, and tips to make this a fun, easy design, accessible to the audience. Consider producing your own photography to give your design a fresh and creative approach to your chosen location.

Entertainment Magazine

A hip, clever, sometimes sharp-tongued magazine, it focuses on music, movies and television, with reviews, investigative stories, interviews and reader polls. This magazine isn't afraid to poke fun at the subjects it profiles.
HEADLINE:  A look back at (Name of person/group of your choice)
DECK/SUBHEAD:  He/She/They have forever changed the landscape of (genre of your chosen person/group).
BYLINE: By James Rodgers
Design a two-spread feature story that covers a person or group's legacy in music, TV or film. Think of creative ways to illustrate and design for your topic that will grab the attention of the reader. Consider adding infographics, timelines or sidebars to help tell the story. It doesn't even have to be a real celebrity--just make it convincing. You MUST create your own photography or illustrations for this category.

Sports/Fitness Magazine

This publication is a must-read for young athletes and people obsessed with sports and the lifestyle associated with them. It reviews new products, covers competitions, and goes around the world to explore sports and fitness. It also contains interviews of star athletes, fitness experts as well as kids in the park.
HEADLINE:  (Name of Sport/Fitness Trend of your choice): Extreme Rush OR (Name of Sport/Fitness Trend): The Thrill of It
BYLINE: By Jane Johnson
Design a two-spread feature story showcasing a sports/fitness figure, or sport/fitness regimen, with an emphasis on lifestyle and attitude. You can highlight the person's athletic prowess or focus on a specific discipline. As with every category, you don't have to write the story, but use real text in display type. Remember, if your design is of a sports or fitness figure, it doesn't have to be a real person. Consider producing your own photography and/or illustration to make your design unique.


1.  CHOOSE:  Select a project from one of the five categories listed above.


2.  DESIGN:  Create a 4-page story (2 spreads) on the project you choose. Each page measures 8" wide x 10" tall, so a spread is 16" wide x 10" tall. 

Original photography or illustration is required for the Entertainment category, but not all; though it is welcome and encouraged in every category. 

You may enter more than one design in the same or different categories. SPD Student Members get their first 3 entries for free -- you can choose to join or renew when you submit your entries or join now.


3.  SUBMIT:  Either printed material or digital files as follows:

Printed Material: Full-size spreads, not reduced copies. DO NOT MOUNT THE WORK TO ANY TYPE OF BOARD. Tape a copy of your completed entry form to the BACK of each submission. Staple the spreads together in the upper left-hand corner. (Slides will NOT be accepted). The judges will be looking at the exact printed entry you submit, so be sure that the printouts look as you intend it to.

Digital PDFs: You MUST include your name somewhere on each spread in 4pt type. Each file MUST be named "First_Lastname.pdf". Entries should be full-size spreads, print-quality, 300 dpi, PDF files (all fonts embedded). Burn all submissions to a CD. It is ok to put multiple entries on one CD. Include a printed copy of the entry form for each entry. Mark clearly the name of the school and students' last name(s) on the CD.

Please be aware: When you submit a PDF, we print it out for judging. If we cannot load the CD or open the file, your entry will most likely be disqualified if there's not enough time to contact you for a new file before judging day. And while we've had winners submit in both methods, you do have more control over what the judges will see if you submit a printed piece ... that way, what you see is what the judges see. In that regard, we encourage printed materials.


4.  SEND all entries with completed entry forms and online payment receipts to:

The Society of Publication Designers  
27 Union Square West, Suite 207 
New York, NY 10003

Entries must be received by Monday, April 4, 2016, 5pm EST. Please plan delivery cushion time.


Please read the instructions carefully and stay within the guidelines. SPD reserves the right to disqualify any miscategorized or incomplete entries. Be sure to read over all the details and download the entry form here. Good luck!

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