GAERF 2018 Student Design Competition


Competition Rules and Guidelines

Competition Rules

Entry Must Include BOTH—an online submission and a mailed physical submission:

  1. Submit Online:
    • Completed entry form
    • Uploaded digital image of the label in .jpg or .png format; file must be less than 1 MB and may be uploaded as .zip.
  2. Mail In:
    • The printed label: trimmed and finished to final specs (the PRINTED LABEL is evaluated for judging)
    • An illustration indicating how the label is intended to fit its container (see example here). The QUALITY of the illustration is NOT evaluated for judging. Judging only considers how the label would fit the container.
    • A copy of the online entry form

Design Requirements and Considerations:

  • Label must include product identification and information (if including a barcode: would be a non-active mock-up).
  • Label must include fictitious company contact information.
  • Label size is determined by the entrant, based on the product container.
  • Label may be designed as one piece, or multiple for front/back, or wrap-around; depending on container.
  • Full product disclosure (as required by the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration) is NOT required.

All Entries Must Be:

  • Completed during the 2017-2018 school year.
  • Original work of the student and contain no trademark or copyright material.
    • Eligible students attend recognized secondary or post-secondary institutions in the continental United States, studying in a graphic communications/printing, advertising, graphic design or interactive media program.
  • Submitted by the instructor.
  • Postmarked by the June 1, 2018 deadline.

Competition Guideline FAQs

What is the purpose of the competition?
Students should recognize the importance of design elements that influence a purchase, as well as relate to the product and its container. They should gain an understanding of layout requirements for label production.

Following are links to several articles on this topic:

How to Create an Effective Product Label

How to Design Product Labels

Improve Your Next Label Design in 5 Easy Steps

5 Tips for Designing Effective Labels

Definition of a Product Label

What is the Point of a Product Label?

What are the steps to compete?

  • Choose your ficticious* product, company, and brand.
  • Design and print your label. (The PRINTED LABEL is evaluated for judging)
  • Produce an illustratation indicating how the label is intended to fit its container (The QUALITY of the illustration is NOT evaluated for judging. Judging only considers how the label would fit the container. See example here.) 
  • Have your instructor complete the online entry and mail the required submission.

*Ficticious product: A product that does not have a published copyright or trademark.

How will the winners be selected?
Winners are chosen by a panel of industry judges who will evaluate the printed labels based on:

  • Effectiveness: a label that would stand out from competing products.
  • Clear identification of the fictitious product and brand.
  • Captivating design that would directly influence the buyer’s decision to purchase (consider use of color, font, label shape, etc.)
  • Label size and placement relevant to its intended container.
  • Use of printing enhancements
  • Creativity and originality.



Is a specific printing enhancement required?
Any printing enhancement is welcome, but not required.  Examples:

  • Foil Stamping
  • UV Coating
  • Spot UV
  • Spot Color
  • Metallic Ink
  • Die Cutting
  • Embossing
  • Debossing
  • Laminating


Can I submit my design file as my “ mailed physical submission”?

  • A design file will include bleeds, crop marks, fonts, etc.
  • Required for entry is the printed hard copy, trimmed and finished to final specs.



Q.   If the entry is judged by the printed hard-copy label, why must I submit a digital image too?
These digital images will be used to produce displays:

  • Online (
  • In the GAERF Student Design Competition exhibit at PRINT 18 (October 2, 2018, McCormick Place-South, Chicago, IL)
  • In a slide presentation of all entries (throughout the duration of PRINT)
  • For signboards of the winning entries (PRINT 18 Career Awareness Day, October 2, 2018)


Will entries be returned to students?
No. All entries become the property of the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF).


May instructors submit more than one entry?
YES! Instructors are encouraged to submit an unlimited number of entries—one entry per student.

Are team entries acceptable?
No. Students must work independently to produce individual entries.

Is there a fee to enter?

Can a student send in their own entry?
No. Student entries must be submitted by their instructor.

How is an entry submitted?

  • Visit to access the online entry form.
  • Complete the online entry form.
  • Upload a digital image of the label (.jpg or .png), file size less than 1MB.
  • Accept the competition’s Terms and Conditions and submit entry form.
  • Mail the printed hard-copy label, an illustration indicating how the label is intended to fit its container, and a copy of the completed entry form to:

  • Student Design Competition
    c/o GAERF
    1899 Preston White Drive
    Reston, VA 20191



For more information: