Questions & Answers

SPARK CONCEPT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

These questions and answers will help you with many issues. Please check them out. If you still need assistance, send an email to info@sparkawards.com.

IMPORTANT: If you are asking Spark a question, always put your Name, Design Name and Organization or School in the email. If you have an entry or submission problem, include a screen-shot of the error message.

FAQ INDEX

(Click on name to jump to questions)

Category Questions
Tech Problems
What to Enter?
Who Can Enter?
Series & Multiple Entries
International Issues
Interface, U.E., U.X. & Digital
Money & Payment Questions
Marketing
Student Questions
Judge & Jury
Criteria Questions
Timing Questions
Awards Questions
Miscellaneous Questions

Category Questions

  • Please can you tell me what category you suggest we enter under?  We have tried to create a very open entry system, for every possible type of design, so we have listed a large number of categories. Sometimes, a design may even fit more than one category. Don’t worry about choosing the “best” one when registering. Everything is judged on its merits. Designs are not judged within a category, but rather, in the context of our Criteria. There are no rigid divisions–categories are listed here so a designer feels that their work is appropriate and welcome. We can have any number of winners–or none in any given area. All depends on the work, and the design sensibility of jury. That’s why we work hard to find tough, fair and collegial judges.
  • Please explain the “World-changing” category. Aspirational designs that contribute to “betterment.” Might be a sun-powered lamp system, or water pump, or efficient new bus transit system… or a well-designed graphic that simply helps people get around, or makes them happy or more efficient or better informed.
  • I am a little confused as to which “Design group” we belong to… any ideas? (Glass interiors material.) Which group do you think is correct for our products? And which group for the design software? In your case, Architecture and/or Kitchen & Baths in General Categories and/or Architecture in the Public Sector Categories. We really don’t have a technology category (yet, but we’re listening…) The Categories are meant more as guidelines than hard and fast divisions. The judges will pick the best designs. Could choose 20 Sparks in a given category and none in the next. If a nominee is mis-placed, they can move it to an area they think is better suited. The judges rule!

Tech Problems

  • Hi Spark! We’re having trouble creating our registration profile. We were successful at Log-In, but it won’t go any further. What gives?  We have “cookies,” that’s what gives. Your browser is probably set to block cookies, in it’s security settings. Go to the browser Options, find Security and allow all cookies. (We also suggest that you click the “clear all cookies and browsing history when I quit” button. Then turn off and restart your browser. It should work at this point.
  • Hello from the UK. We’re having a spot of trouble with the online entry form–how shall we proceed? Sorry– bugs happen. Call us at: +0191-4481-6106 or email via our website contact form.
  • Our Firm would rather not put an individual designer on the entry form. Can we say “Design Team” instead? Yes– no problem. Just put “Design” in for first name, and “Team” for last name on the form. You may log in and change this yourselves.
  • Is there a place on the entry forms requiring descriptive text of the item entered? and if so, what are the specifications and/or limitations of the text? Yes, we request a good clear description of the design and how it exemplifies some (or all!) of the criteria and/or mission statement. We need both a 50 word synopsis and a 250 word description. If you are submitting a website design, put a link to that media in your description. Also include 3, low resolution jpg image files for Phase 1. We encourage entrants to submit a Youtube video. There’s a place for the link on the entry form.

What to Enter?

  • I am a designer located in Canada, and I was really interested by the Spark Awards. Do you have a category for publications (Magazines and Books)?  Yes– we’ve had many publication designs. Send more!
  • Can we put text and descriptions into the images we upload? Not a good idea for Phase 1, because the low resolution will make text difficult to read. Put text in the description box provided. If you proceed to the Finalist Phase 2, at least one image must not have any text, copy or letters on it, and not have any lines, arrows, etc., obscuring or blocking the picture of the design.
  • Dear Spark– we would like to include a video in our submission. How should we proceed? We love videos. Please put your video on the hosting site Youtube. Include the url for this page in the field provided in your entry registration. Our judges will see it there and include it in their review.
  • For a concept entry will you need a model?  No– Spark:Concept is completely online, from submissions to judging. NO models.
  • Can prototypes be submitted to the Spark:Concept competition? Yes, prototypes, pre-production and concept designs may be entered in any category. They will be judged on their merits relative to Spark Criteria, against other prototypes or concepts.
  • I am entering a conceptual product in another design competition around the same time as this competition. Can I enter a product in the Spark Awards that I am also entering in another competition?  Yes, Spark welcomes your entries. The Spark criteria and premise are complementary to, not competitive with other design competitions. You should, if possible, enter both. Otherwise, let your design intuition and heart guide you!
  • We have a new medical design. We are trying to make the prototype. If we do not finish it before deadline, could we send large-format photos? It is not a concept or a study. It will be a real product and we are planning to commercialize it as soon as possible. Yes–you may enter this, but only send images—see above.
  • I know there is a maximum of 3 images, but what should be the file format (jpeg, pdf..), file size and the size in centimeters or pixels? One mb maximum. We recommend that the first photo you upload is a square shape, because that is used in the Entry Gallery, and other shapes can distort. The second and third photos can be of any shape. JPG format only–no PNG or PDFs allowed. Also your company, designer or design’s name and appropriate link, a 50 word synopsis and the mission statement or description–250 words.
  • I would like to send you also my project documentation (pdf format with about 100 pages – 34 MB ). Is it possible? No. The judges are very busy during this process and unable to deal with this level of detail. If we need further documentation, we will contact you.
  • I modified our entry pdf file to a .jpg for uploading. However, I would like to keep the other two images as .pdf files. Is this a problem? Yes—big problem, the system will not display pdf’s, and thus the judges can’t review them. Please convert to jpgs. Photoshop will do this.
  • The product design i want to participate with is a part of a interior design. Can an entry contain a product that we send as another entry?  Yes–no problem!
  • Do I have to send a mounted image before the early or standard deadline? For Phase 1 we only need the low-res images and description you upload. No physical materials are accepted for Spark:Concept.

Who Can Enter?

  • Hello! I want to join in the competition with my friends. Is there limit on number of members on a team?  No limits. Spark On!
  • I am interested in entering my graduate thesis in the spark competition, however I graduated in May 2011 so I’m not currently a student. Can I still enter at the student rate, since it was a student project? Yep–no problem!

Series & Multiple Entries

  • Can a product or communications series or campaign be registered with one registration or are several registrations necessary? Most types of series can be submitted with one registration and the entrant will be charged a single Series/Campaign registration fee—this will incur a one-time fee of $50/student, $100/Pro.
  • How much do we need to pay for multi-product submission under one company’s name? Will that be considered one entry? Or do we need to pay for each one? Each design is considered a separate entry, unless they are part of a clearly linked series or campaign, such as a line of similarly designed kitchen appliances, or an ad campaign where the theme or look is the same, but the ad sizes are different. Each one needs to be paid separately, or by special arrangement with Spark.
  • We designed a promotional event for client that ran for a month, in every store in India. Also they had billboards across all the major cities.  Does this apply for a series entry? If yes then how would we capture so many design elements and upload them? This is indeed a series–if you did all the work. In Phase I, upload 3 different pix of the work, and describe it in the comments section. Mention the array of work and media utilized. If you go to Phase II, you may show more of the work then.
  • We would like to submit under the Architecture Category. Would several complete designs for a single actual site be correctly submitted as a “series?”   Thanks. Good question! First time for that one. We say yes. The linkage is the assignment. It will make for a fascinating story of your (and the Client’s) process.

International Issues

  • We would like to know if it makes sense to apply for the spark awards having an multimedia solution with interfaces in German? Any language is OK, but please provide an English-language translation for our judges. A written one is fine.
  • I am an architecture student from Brasil– are international students eligible to participate in the competition? Yes–all designers everywhere are welcome. We accept payment by credit cards or by bank wire transfer when necessary. Your work will be entered directly online, so no transportation expense is incurred.
  • We’re a small company, so here is no English speaker now.  But, we want to try this award. If we could enter 2nd stage, then we will employ the person who understand English well. Before employ the person I’m in charge of English. First, we do our best! Your best is very good indeed! Thanks for your interest in our great adventure, Spark.

Interface, UI, UX & Digital Design

  • A short film (2 minutes) is the best way to understand our product, so we’re wondering if it is possible to send you a cd or dvd?  Great question. We have a fine solution for all digital designs. In your My Submissions page, there’s a field for a Youtube link. Add a link to your film. Please do not upload the file to Spark or send it on a disc during Phase I. It can’t be viewed. Only use Youtube. Vimeo and the other services can NOT be used in our system. Check out our Youtube channel >HERE
  • Will submitted digital images be printed out, or viewed on a monitor?  Viewed on a computer monitor and projected on screens, by the judges.
  • We are submitting an animation. How do we do this with your upload setup? Great question. This goes into Youtube. See above.

Money & Payment Questions

  • I went through the homepage and was deeply impressed by the competition. What kind of media exposure, online exhibition, yearbook or other benefits do entrants get? Do you charge any fees concerning the above benefits? Good questions– answers are on the website, but in a nutshell: there is extensive media coverage of Spark, and publicity towards that end. Media outlets vary, and often include Curve Magazine and the great websites, CORE 77, Product Design Hub, ArchNewsNow, Death By Architecture and many more. We have a permanent exhibition at the Autodesk Design Gallery in San Francisco, and traveling exhibitions in places like Guangzhou, Shanghai, Taipei and Seoul. We also have long-term, searchable archive-galleries of all entries on the website, and the Spark Yearbook. Yes, of course we have to charge a fee for all of these winners benefits, but it is less than 1/6th the charge of the least expensive major European competition.
  • We’ve had a change in plans— is it possible to cancel our entry and get a refund?  Yes and no, of course! Yes, hurrah—refunds are available, but there is a $10 handling fee. No, sorry, not after six weeks prior to deadline.
  • Hello, I was wondering if Is there a cash award for winning the Sparkawards? Like most of the other major competitions, designers enter Spark to get their work into the public eye. It is the main means of promoting their skillset, and getting more assignments. Movie stars don’t get cash at the Oscars–they get to work in more movies.
  • I am a few years out of Grad School. I would like to submit my design but truly cannot afford the entry fee. Can I send $50–all I can scratch up? If I didn’t believe that you would be impressed with my design, I wouldn’t bother asking!  We definitely commiserate– but no can do. It wouldn’t fair to other designers. You might look for a local sponsor.
  • I am trying to submit my projects for the Spark Awards, but you do not accept American Express. How do I proceed from here? Sorry–their fees were just too expensive for young Spark. Please use Mastercard, Visa or Paypal. If you’re in US/Canada, it’s even better to send a check. Please contact Spark for more details.

Marketing

  • When and for how long can the winner’s logo be used in our marketing communications?  All winners participate in the Winners Circle Services Package program (which licenses the use of the SparkMark logo), you may use the SparkMark as soon as you receive your notification of winning. The SparkMark can be utilized as long as the original design is being featured, sold, marketed or published.
  • When can the winning of an award be publicly announced? For a uniform release of information, we ask winners to wait until the official Spark Press Release before announcing their winning of the award. However, should you have planned a special occasion, please let us know—exceptions are possible.
  • I would like to promote Spark to our staff. Are you able to supply posters or other materials for distribution? Spark is delighted to send either bulk posters or Spark postcards (in English) for staff or students, as long as supplies last. Please send an e-mail to info@sparkawards.com with your address and the number that you would like.

Student Questions

  • I’m a recent graduate (graduation: may 2011). The project I want to enter is a project that I did as a student. I was wondering if i can enter as a student, or if I have to enter as a pro and pay the full amount? Your work was student, work and qualifies as such. OK to enter as student work, and you will be judged in that group. Thanks for Sparking!
  • I have a design piece that I created as a student. I have since graduated, but can provide documentation that I was a student when I created it. May I submit it, and receive the discounted rate? Also, only one original was created. Can I submit photos of the project? Yes, you may enter your design. In the event that you win, you would have to prove student status at time of the design’s creation to receive the award. Yes, photo’s (digital jpg files) are fine.

Judge & Jury

  • I represent an architectural firm, how would the “physical” viewing be accomplished? Buildings have been submitted in many media– but clearly not full-size! digital images, 3d software simulations, video “fly-overs” and online videos are the most common. Note that no models or 3-D work are allowed in Concept.
  • How many works are chosen as winners in this event? There are no limits to how many are awarded in each level or category. It could be zero or many. This is entirely up to the judges.

Criteria Questions

  • Do our concepts necessarily have to fulfill all the criteria? No but judges are hoping–and looking for the best. Focus on your design’s merits. Any single criteria might win.

Timing Questions

  • I have created a book cover design that has not yet been published, should I wait till next year after publication or can I enter on the soul creation of but not the use of my design? This would be called “Pre-production” design in the car biz. You can state the ultimate use in your entry materials. (If it wasn’t destined for production, it still may be entered under “Concept Design.”)
  • Does the submission need to be made at the time of registration? Is it possible to get information on the uploading method of submission material before the actual submission? You can register once, and then go back and enter as many submissions as you want later, or even make minor changes—up until deadline.

Awards Questions

  • What are the awards for Spark? I can’t find it in the literature. Lifetime supply of pencils? Recognition? As much recognition as we can build for you. The Spark is an honorary award. We have downloadable certificates for the Finalist and Bronze, Silver and Gold winners and a magnificent trophy is available for purchase by finalists and winners. We maintain a long-term online exhibition of entrants and winners and an exhibition of the winning work at the Autodesk Design Museum in San Francisco and major exhibitions in Asia and elsewhere. We also promote our winners in partner media, press releases and other programs. Finally, we offer our entrants an exclusive Awards Celebration, and various workshops at no charge to any entrant. New in 2011– the Spark Winners Celebration book.

Miscellaneous Questions

  • I have an idea, but am not sure how to put my idea in motion. I am regrettably not an engineer or anything of the sort, and I have no idea how to get this product rolling. Any information that you can provide me will be greatly appreciated.  We always suggest contacting a local design teacher at a college. They know the ropes!
  • I still have questions! Of course you do! Send Spark Your Question Via our website CONTACT form above, or call Spark: +01-914-481-6106.