In lieu of this year’s ongoing student ADDY competition, I thought I’d share with you some invaluable advice from Mr. Bierut regarding graphic design competitions. Like my prior Love Life of Your Client post, I reference Michael Bierut’s Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design. The third essay in Bierut’s book is titled, How to Win Graphic Design Competitions and may even help you win next year’s ADDYs. He’s understanding of the imbalance of the many hours devoted to projects, and the seconds with which it is judged for competitions. Here’s the intro; it’s particularly interesting to hear about the judging process itself:

People who enter design competitions, particularly people who enter and lose design competitions, comfort themselves by imaging that something sinister goes on in the tomblike confines of the judges’ chambers.

When you judge a competition yourself, you learn that nothing could be farther from the truth. Behind the closed doors are table after table covered with pieces of graphic design. Like most things in life, only a few of these are really good. Each judge moves along the tables, looking at each piece just long enough to ascertain whether he or she likes it. It takes a long time and a lot of people to produce eve a modest piece of graphic design. The judging process takes less than a second.

The predictability of this ritual, which has all the glamour and sinister aspects of digging a ditch, makes it easy to devise some simple rules that will increase your chances of winning…

The whole book is available on free google books, here. This particular essay starts on page 24. Go see what techniques will help crush opponent designers.