Colorado Student Media Association


Colorado Student Media Association


Colorado Student Media Association


Designer of the Year – April 15 Deadline

What is this?
This competition honors our best designers by selecting the best portfolio of work from this school year. This contest differs from Best of Colorado individual design contests, such as individual design newspaper or yearbook specific awards (though such entries might be part of a design portfolio). This contest honors designs from print publications (newspaper/newsmagazine/magazine and yearbook) publications from this school year that demonstrate broad excellence.

This competition requires the journalist to submit actual designs in a portfolio format. All portfolios will be viewed on computer screens. Do not print and mail your portfolio.

The designer who submits the top portfolio will be named the CSMA Designer of the Year.

What is a portfolio?
Entrants should select a maximum of 10 examples of their design work created during the 2015-16 school year and place them in a portfolio folder (to be shared through Dropbox or some other sharing site) or on a website (a personal site, perhaps using free hosting, or using a photo sharing site such as Flickr).

The general purposes of a portfolio include helping attain scholarships and getting hired as a journalist, among other things. This specific portfolio is to demonstrate a designer’s skills to best communicate information to specific audiences.

What will judges look for?
Judges want to see a range of work that shows consistency of skill and artistry.

Some advice from veteran judges: Your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest design, so judges advise you to NOT include 10 spreads just to be including the maximum entries. If you have 10 terrific spreads/pages/examples, by all means, use them all. Judges will look for your “voice” as a designer (your personality and your design “vocabulary”), for versatility in content, and for technical excellence.

Along with the PDF of each design, please include brief annotations that include context for the design, some thoughts on why the designer chose this particular example, and anything else that a judge should take into consideration. These annotations may be on a separate Word document, but should be clearly keyed to individual samples of your work.

Check out for a wide range of national award-winning designs from the past school year. You need NOT include examples of your work in all these award areas. This is the first year for this competition, so we have no samples of past portfolios from Colorado designers to share.

Who may enter?
Each current CSMA member medium may sponsor ONE portfolio, by ONE student journalist. Entrants may be of any grade, but must have been a staff member of at least one student medium at the school. The designs in the portfolio must have been published to qualify, or, in the case of yearbook spreads, will be published in the 2016 book.

How do we enter?
Carefully gather high resolution PDF copies of your best work since last August and rename them in this format: 01Kenerskiportfolio.pdf, 02Kenerskiportfolio.pdf, etc. Place them in one folder, which you share through Dropbox or some similar file sharing site, or share through your Flickr account (or some similar service), or through your own page on a website. All entries must use the online application form – and then the portfolios will be distributed to the judges by CSMA.

Each entry must include a completed official entry form, which you will find here.

When is the deadline for submission?
Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MDT, April 15.

When do we get results?
Judging will be finished by May 1, and CSMA will announce first, second and third place winners, plus any honorable mentions awarded by judges, during the first week of May. Award certificates will be mailed to schools that week, in time for end-of-year celebrations and award ceremonies. This contest is not a critique, so only general comments from the judges will be shared.

There are no enrollment classifications for this contest. Again, all grades are eligible.

Top portfolios may also be shared through the CSMA social media, Flickr site. Pinterest site, and website following judging and notification of winners..

What if we have more questions?
Contact Jack Kennedy at [email protected] or call 303-550-4755.