About a week ago I had the opportunity to attend the ADDY awards and was shocked to have won three (two silver and one Albuquerque 30) for some posters I designed. I have to confess that I’m sort of a strange creature when it comes to anything competitive. Whether it’s sports or design or anything in between, I am super competitive. That’s not the strange part however. The strange part is that I love competition but I have a hard time with the idea of not being the best, not being a winner. This can be good but it can be really unfortunate. When it’s good, I push myself to be better, to compete with myself and to not care whether I win, as long as I get the thrill of the competition. But it can be kind of sad when I go into the mode where I just want to protect my ego; in other words, once I’ve entered I always feel like I need to go into it thinking I won’t win just to buffer the disappointment in case I don’t win. Thinking about this led me to realize the three things I learned about design awards.
- It’s okay to have high hopes whether you win or lose
- Enjoy the honor of winning and using it to push to be better
- Focusing on the award when you design will hold you back
What I learned this time around is that (1.) It’s okay to have high hopes whether you win or lose. It’s great to enter competitions and believe that you can win. For me this means that I need to stop trying to act like I don’t care if I win, because I do. When I walked into the venue where the awards were being held, I was very much trying to convince myself of the reasons why it would be “ok” to lose. But I cared very much if I did if I’m being honest. Was I excited and honored to receive more awards? Of course. But (2.) I want to remember to use these awards to remind myself that I can always push to be better instead of sitting back and thinking I’m good where I am. I also wanted to re-post parts of the blog I wrote after I won at the Adobe Creative Jam in 2016. Mainly because (3.) Focusing on the award when you design will hold you back. I one hundred percent believe that I won my ADDY awards this time because I was not focused on any kind of award when I designed my posters. And that is the one thing I want you to take from this, that it’s good to win awards and enter competitions, as long as the competition and winning is not your end goal.
Why you should not design for awards
The flaw is that awards can create the wrong mindset when it comes to how we approach our designs if we aren’t intentional.
How we think about awards can either help us or hinder us. Just be passionate about your work, do your very best at every part of your process, and the awards won’t really matter.
Design amazing work, then enter it for an award; don’t look to the award while you are designing.