Choosing the right designer is a key driver of whether or not your project is going to be a success. The best designers will deliver high-quality work that reflects an understanding of your business, your target audience and your objectives—all delivered with professionalism and timeliness. (Easy, right?!) There are lots of different ways to find these designers, such as reviews, recommendations or trial and error.
But a surefire way of finding the best of the best is by commissioning an award-winning designer to work on your project. A designer who has won an award has demonstrated that they have what it takes to stand out from their peers and deliver excellent work that is recognized by experts in the industry. How can you find and commission these amazing award-winning designers, you ask? We’re about to show you.
How do you find these amazing designers?
Start by searching for design awards in your industry and browse the winners for the most recent years. Want to find the best illustrators? Check out the latest winners of the World Illustration Awards. Looking for the best book cover designers? Take a look at the winners of the New York Book Show or the American Book Fest. You get the picture.
Look at the specific categories that are relevant to your project—so if you want a book cover designed for your latest thriller, you’ll probably want to check out the winners of the thriller, crime and fantasy fiction category. If you want an illustration rather than a photorealistic design, you’ll want to consider illustrators who can create the kind of images you’re looking for.
So you might choose a specific designer for their experience and expertise in a specific area or style that fits your project. On the other hand, you might also choose a designer because they seem versatile and look like they can take on anything! Someone with years of experience who you can trust to bring that professionalism and creativity that you’re after.
How do you get them to work with you?
So why would such a talented and recognized designer want to work on your little project? Once you’ve found a designer you want to work with, you’ll need to convince them! Start a conversation by simply commenting on their designs, follow them on their design platform or on social media and let them know you like their style. You’ll want to get them excited about your project. Tell them about your work and why you think they are a good fit.
As one of the winning designers we showcase below said, “I love working with clients who know exactly what they want.” So when you’re ready to brief the designer, give them a set of clear objectives while at the same time allowing them freedom to use their creativity—which is what you’re paying them for, after all!
Remember that, as with any project and any designer, you want to make sure that this designer is right for you as well. Ask questions around their experience and the specific skills that you need, check to see that they understand your business and your customer and get a feel for how the communication flows and your personalities fit together.
Some of our favorite award-winning designers
To get you started, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite award-winning designers across the board in the categories logo design, packaging design, illustration and book cover design—plus how you can get in touch with them.
Going loco for logo design
Best supporting design 2018 winner Demonic
The brief for this design asked for a modern, feminine logo for a monthly mastermind group for mothers going through divorce. Designer Demonic created a beautiful logo that was voted best supporting design at the 99designs Awards 2018. We particularly love the designer’s illustration approach that gives the design a strong but feminine feel.
Best design in a new industry 2018 winner RVST
The virtual reality game industry is growing and this design was spot on for this fantasy-themed adventure strategy game set in a medieval village. Winning designer RVST explains how he came up with this elaborate design: “The client and I carefully considered everything to come up with this dramatic design—from the sketches and coloring process all the way to selecting the right typography for the game title. All this wouldn’t be possible without good communication between us and my resolve to realize the client’s vision.”
European Design Awards 2017, Company Logo category winner Clever Franke
This company logo by design agency Clever Franke was created for a smart precision-agriculture crop-monitoring platform that uses drones to help farmers keep plants healthy on a massive scale. The winning design was based on a solid understanding of the conservative nature of the industry as well as the core values of the company. It brings to mind crop patterns as you would see them from the sky and is executed in a modern, professional style.
Best line art design 2017 winner thisisremedy
This winning line art logo by designer thisisremedy is simple yet fun. As the designer explains, “The Logo for Early Man Brewery was inspired by simple cave paintings. Whilst researching the paintings, I noticed many of the paintings depicted prehistoric man hunting with spears. I decided to replace the spear with a blade of wheat to reference the ingredients used to brew beer.”
European Design Awards 2017, Brand Logo winner Identity Atlas
This unusual brand logo for ARA – Rural Creative Routes, a project established in a small town in the north of Italy, uses connecting links between the letters to represent the new relationships that ARA is trying to construct in the local areas. The logo was designed to be dynamic, with different variations used in different outputs. It was created by Identity Atlas, a multidisciplinary studio based in Italy, that specializes in communication design.
Picking up the perfect packaging
Best use of gradients 2018 winner Lucadia
This unusual packaging for Rise Above, a New England-style IPA that’s “delicately dry-hopped with Galaxy”, was awarded for its brilliant use of gradients. Winning designer Lucadia describes how much they enjoyed the project: “The client gave me 100% freedom on the art direction and together we decided on this minimal, dreamy night scene by picturing that moment most of us live once in our lives.”
German Design Award 2018, Packaging Design winner Rivelles Kiener
This simple, brown packaging design was created by the Austrian design team Rivelles Kiener and won the German Design Award for best communications design packaging. Bottles and jars are made of waste from the wood industry, which reflects the natural elements of this product. There is a clear link to sustainability and minimizing the impact on the environment and the overall minimalism of the design echoes this as well. As the jury stated, this gives the product family a “signature look” and the whole design is “an adroitly executed concept down to the last detail”.
Best 1-to-1 project 2017 winner MANTSA
This packaging design by designer MANTSA was voted Best 1-to-1 Project of the 99designs Awards 2017. The colorful design for three different flavors of ketchup started with a simple sketch and was then developed into a digital rendering. The labels bring to life the different flavors with distinctive coloring and prominent product names, helping the shopper find the one they want.
Best use of color 2017 winner Khramova
Another great example of color and graphic design elements being used to catch the eye and differentiate flavors, this award-winning label project was about creating five different bottle labels for different flavors within a product family. Sometimes, you know exactly what you want and you just need a great designer to bring it to life for you. Here’s how designer Khramova summarizes it: “this was a new direction for me—but I like challenges. The client had a pretty clear vision of what he wanted, so I just made that.”
Core77 Design Awards 2017, Packaging Design winner Karim Rashid
Karim Rashid is a prolific designer whose manifesto declares that “design is about the betterment of our lives poetically, aesthetically, experientially, sensorially, and emotionally.” He created the award-winning packaging design for nuMe, a program that helps women put their health first. This simple design for their Slim Soups packaging is both modern and practical. The jury of the Core77 Design Awards 2017 highlighted how “natural innovation and pure design are embodied by nuMe’s inviting, multi-functional, and environmentally-friendly packaging.”
Finding the most illustrious illustrators
Best layout 2018 winner Luz Viera
A great brief can really improve the process of working with you. Designer Luz Viera says about this illustrated brochure that won Best Layout at the 99designs Awards 2018: “This contest brief was a dream. It allowed a lot of creative freedom and was a huge challenge. I didn’t win the contest, but I won one of my best clients.” This was a four-page booklet designed as part of a companion workbook for a film called ‘Puppy Culture’ on breeding and raising litters of puppies. What makes this design particularly clever is its composition, the use of grids and other unexpected elements.
Most epic design 2018 winner HeyEksa!
The project brief for this design was to combine a majestic-looking lion in a mystical design that used geometric shapes. This design, voted Most Epic Design 2018, started as a simple outline and then came to life in intricate detail with ornamental, engraving-style techniques. As the team noted in the award announcement, “This design made our jaws drop due to its intricate artwork and advanced techniques.”
World Illustration Awards 2017, Overall Professional winner Aart-Jan Venema
Illustrator Aart-Jan Venema, Overall Professional Winner of the World Illustration Awards 2018, emphasises “how important it is to work as a team, and how important it is with a project at this scale that the collaborations are good, and the people at different parts in the chain know what the other parts are doing.” He illustrated the different areas of the annual Green Man Festival on the theme of “discovery” and “an exploration of unique, weird and wonderful things”, “humorous with dark undertones”. Venema started with pencil sketches and then created the final illustrations in Photoshop. He also shares how many emails he exchanged with the project leader over the course of the project: 178!
Best 1-to-1 project 2018 winner Piere d’Arterie
This award-winning design by illustrator Piere d’Arterie is a great example of an illustration that came out of a one-to-one project. As the illustrator explains, “I wanted to show the serenity of a beach village before a great war began. I started with the idea of my own personal fishing experience, and poured it into my sketch. In the end, my client was happy and this was a fun project for me—so it’s a win-win!”
World Illustration Awards 2017, Overall New Talent winner Marco Palena
‘Blooming Bookshops’ celebrates the blossoming of books and culture in Italy with the arrival of spring and this project was to design a poster for the event.
Winning designer Marco Palena was inspired by a quote by Amélie Nothomb: “A true reader is … a reader who is completely immersed in the reading of a book and is changed by it … a person who is fully open-minded towards the book”. It was his first time doing a poster but his efforts clearly paid off!
Creating bold and beautiful book covers
Best use of stock photography 2018 winner B&J
Stock photography doesn’t have to be cheesy or boring. With the book cover design for “The Ticket” designer B&J demonstrates what expert use of stock photography looks like. The designer explains, “The book is about a man grappling with complex family challenges at Christmas time. He takes the same train every day, but one ride might be his last. With this theme in mind, the client wanted something clean, bold, emotional and evocative for the book cover—and I delivered just that.”
The New York Book Show 2017, Self-Published Cover winner Andrei Bat
This novel “blends elements of wartime romance with fairytale fantasy” and the cover became “a turn-of-the-century, steampunk piece” by designer Andrei Bat. The designer recalls that he “loved the client’s request and immediately started working on it”—exactly what you want when you put that brief in! The author was clearly pleased with the results and comments, how “Havenwood used 19th-century decorative elements to convey a sense of history. Andrei Bat’s digital painting style is both luminous and moody…”
The Book Designer e-Book Cover Design Awards 2017 winner Pulp ART
This winning book cover design created by designer Pulp ART plays with the theme of lost identity. The novel tells the story of a small-time conman who gets mistaken for someone else because he has “one of those faces”. The cover perfectly embodies the themes of the book using a unique asymmetrical font paired with bold colors and shapes.
Penguin Random House Student Design Award 2017, Children’s Cover Award winner Beth Ewens
The judges called this cover “Bold, funny, subversive”, an “Instantly striking, clever design that works on many different levels” that “captured the essence of the book for me in an arresting but really funny way.” Winning designer Beth Ewens provides some background on how she arrived at the winning design: “The concept behind my design was to keep the tone of the cover classic while giving it a modern and rebellious twist. It was inspired by the iconic moment in the book where Adrian paints over his Noddy wallpaper with a tin of black vinyl paint.”
The American Book Fest 2017, Best Fiction Cover Design winner Estella
This was a “cross-cultural novel that takes the reader from New York to the Middle East through a tale of politics and love” and the design was “a vibrant, colorful cover that juxtaposed the story’s dramatically different worlds.” Designer Estella was particularly proud of her work and thrilled that the author put her forward for the award: “I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing clients here on 99designs and most of them keep in touch or invite me to work on their new projects. Obviously, Kathy’s contest will have a special significance for me as it resulted in this incredible award of which I’m immensely proud.”
Work with the cream of the crop
Wanna work with an amazingly talented designer on your next design project? Find yourself an award winner! This list of award-winning designers is a great place to start. Keep an eye on design awards in your industry and you’ll be on the right track to finding the perfect person to work with.