Advice for Student Craft / Design Awards Entries

Author: Courtney Johnston, Director

Thinking of entering the 2014 ECC New Zealand Student Craft / Design Awards? Here's some advice to ensure a kick-ass entry.

The crucial A3 presentation space

The crucial A3 presentation space

The ECC Student Craft / Design Award, organised by the Friends of The Dowse, recognises the best of student and recent graduate design and making. With $5,000 in prizes and the opportunity to have your work shown at The Dowse and media partner Urbis's Design day headquarters in Auckland, it is worth taking the time to think about how to make your entry—as well as your entered work—outstanding.

I was a judge in last year's awards and am part of the panel again this year. Here's my quick tips on assembling a great entry.

Read the entry guidelines carefully. Contact the Friends of The Dowse for guidance if you have any questions.

Be clear about the brief your work was produced for. You have up to 300 words to describe either the project set by your lecturer/course, or the brief you yourself generated. You don't have to use them all! Judges here want to know the objective and parameters you were set.

Be thoughtful in your personal statement. You have up to 300 words for this, and judges read them closely. We are interested in how you interpreted the brief, your ideas, your process, your materials, decisions you made along the way. Try reading your statement out loud to yourself or a friend to make sure it answers all the "why, what, how?" questions the judges have.

Take good photos (or get someone to help you)! This is very simple advice, but remember, judges won't see the actual work and are reliant on what you send us.

One A3 sheet—several images. The best entries in 2013 allowed judges to get the sense of the scale, the detail, and the use/wearing of the entered work. We want to understand the size (how big is that table / lamp / brooch?). We want to see the finish on your work (how is it made? how well?). If appropriate, we want to see how it relates to the body or a space (how does someone wear that necklace or sit in that chair?). We will look at both a printout of your entry and a large projection on a screen. Don't clutter your form, but do give us a few ways of seeing your work.

Some of the problems we had last year included entry sheets with a lot of decoration but only small images of the actual work; sheets that made it hard to understand whether we were seeing Photoshopped mockups or real protoypes/objects; sheets that didn't give a good close-up view of the entry. This often makes the judges sad, as we are genuinely very excited to see so much fresh, innovative, well-made design and craft in one day.

So, good luck with your entries, and don't forget the closing date: midnight Sunday 3 August.

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