What To Enter

This section is about the specific things that an entrant needs to provide or do, to successfully complete a submission. Please note that different design areas and disciplines sometimes have different requirements, so please review these notes carefully.


1. Any number of entries may be made with one registration. Make sure to write down your Username and Password and keep it in a secure place. (Special note to South Korean entrants: please note that all Spark emails are blocked by Naver, Nate and Hanmail. Do not register with these addresses, because we cannot communicate with you– for example, to tell you that you won! Use another service– Gmail works fine.)

2. Submit your design entries. Each submission is made at your registration page. You may enter as many pieces as you would like, but only one design or series per submission. You may enter any design(s) from year 2000 to date. You may enter multiple times, if you feel it fits in more than one area. You may enter work that was submitted in past years. (Because our juries always change from year to year, fresh eyes are on the work.)

All registrations and submissions are made online. Sorry, but there are no exceptions.

Where the Upload form asks for Designer or Team Leader name, some people want to emphasize their whole team. In that case, write “Design Team” in those fields. Then, put all your team members into space on the form provided for additional team members. If you are a Spark Winner or Finalist, we will be happy to list all team members in subsequent materials and certificates (if they all fit), after the competition closes.

3. Make the entry fee payment. (If you have multiple entries, you can save re-entering credit-card info by contacting us to make a single, total payment. Send a note to alert us by email to admin @ Sparkawards. com (without spaces).

After initial registration, log in to your registration page, where you’ll see the option to enter your payment information via credit card. If you are from the USA and time allows, we recommend that you pay by check. In that case, again, please notify us to expect it. Overseas entrants may also wish to make payments via Paypal or bank wire (with a small service charge)–please inquire for details. After receiving payment, your status will be marked as “paid and approved.”

If you choose an alternative payment method, make sure to allow ample time for it to clear the banks and/or shipment. No designs are judged without pre-payment.

4. Entrants will initially upload at least three (1 MB maximum size each) images of their work for Phase 1. As many as 5 images may be uploaded. They may be photos of the work, slides or graphics from a Powerpoint, charts, graphs, certifications, etc.—whatever helps tell your story. Spark also encourages you to add a photo of your designer or team—make it your 4th or 5th image. The images should be 8 inches (200mm) in height or more at a resolution of 150 dpi. The images may be portrait or landscape. They must be a JPG file. All files should be RGB. At least one of the images must be completely free of any text, call-out lines, boxes or blurbs, and ideally, float on a white background.

Entrants will also supply a 75-word, short description (synopsis) and answer a series of questions about the designs (see below). All entry descriptions must be in English. For your description or mission statement, please start with a headline. We recommend a straight, non-sales, non-marketing, non-PR description of your design’s merits, applicability and cognizance of our Criteria. Spark reserves the right to edit these descriptions (and the images) for clarity and/or reasonable standards of good taste.

It will be useful to the judges if you can answer some, or all, of the questions below, which are found on the entry online form. Please answer as clearly and as briefly as possible. 50 words maximum response each. Just the facts, please—no sales or PR or designer self-promotion. Jurors do not approve.

Why should this design exist? What was the perceived need?

What is the design brief, challenge or problem to be solved?

Tell us about your strategy or process. How did you develop the design or user/client solution?

What is innovative about the design?

What is the context of your work? An important aspect of sustainability is how the design fits into the situation.

What results, effectiveness or benefits does it deliver?

What makes your design compelling? Does it tell a story?

How does your design enhance the quality of life, or improve the human condition?

Target market or user?

Price/cost range?

Do you have verified or certified statistics or performance data? What is the verification authority?


Fall Awards
Product Design
Experience & Service Design
Health, Medical & Universal Design
Spaces & Architecture
Transport & Mobility Design
Civic Innovation & Design
Engineering Innovation & Design
Graphic Design
Print Design
Packaging Design
Digital Design
WEAR Design
Late Deadline:  November 12, 2018
Jury: November 14, 2018, San Francisco

Winter Awards
Concept Pro
Student Concept Fall/Winter Semester
Late Deadline: November 30, 2018
Jury: December 4, 2018, Hong Kong

All Deadlines end at Midnight, California-time.

Note: Special arrangements can sometimes be made for local hand deliveries. Please inquire.

Do you have a website or page that tells the story of your design or includes more data, photos, etc about it? Then be sure to include its URL in the field provided on the upload form.

We highly recommend that you submit a short video. You may upload a link to a YouTube video or slideshow to help tell the story of your design. You will find a field on the entry form for a Youtube video link. (Sorry, only Youtube links are allowed. NO Vimeo, et al.) Please keep it short and factual. It can be up to three minutes in length. Videos are recommended—however, it is an option, not a requirement. To embed a YouTube video with your entry, simply click the “Share” button below your YouTube video, and copy and paste the YouTube URL into the box provided in your entry form. The URL should look similar to this: http://youtu.be/1D_YL9LwKnc

5. After administrative review, Finalists are announced who will be included in the Phase 2 live judging. First, all Finalists will make payment of the Finalist fee, online in a similar manner to their initial registration fee. Then, for Phase 2, most professional entrants will need to provide a physical sample of their work and/or an image mounted on a board, fabric or vinyl display*. Whenever possible, for professional entries a physical sample is preferable and will be the most compelling for the jurors. (Student Concept designers do not ever send physical samples. However they may opt to have a display poster produced by Spark and delivered to the jury. See below for instructions.)

If you professional  (not student) and are sending a physical entry, the final step is to carefully package your design (or display) and ship it to Spark, arriving no later than deadline. Designs not received by deadline will not be judged, and fees are not refundable at this stage. Please do not send very valuable work, prototypes or highly fragile models, because we can not be responsible for lost, damaged or missing work. If you do send something of great value, make sure to insure the piece for the whole time-frame.

On the side of your delivery container or box, or in a packing slip please list the designs inside the box. It is preferable to put several pieces in one box.

Please Do Not Include Retail Packaging Material, unless necessary for protection reasons (or it’s a Package Design submission). Simply bubblewrap your design and pack in a sturdy box. No retail packaging material or display boards will be returned.

NOTE: there are NO shipments for the Spark Winter Concept Awards. Those are all online submissions. The shipping address for Autumn San Francisco categories is below. 

Entry Supervisor
Spark Design Awards

Box 106
The UPS Store
1288 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133

This delivery point accepts all shipping services including UPS, FedX, DHL, USPS and official mail, etc.

We request that winning designs, whenever possible, stay with Spark for exhibition display. The non-winning work will be returned if you include an addressed and completely filled-out pre-paid shipping label (UPS, FedX or USPS). If this is not included the work will be donated.

A display board/poster may be submitted along with your required media. These are effective media to help convey your design to the judges, in addition to your other submitted materials.

Poster Boards may be submitted by finalists in all competitions including Concept Design. Please only submit one display board/poster per entry. It may have multiple panels or images on it.

We currently accept only one size for production: A3+; 13” x 19” (33cm x 48 cm). Please size your image to fit within those dimensions.

The poster can contain any content you wish that will best show off your design. This can be multiple images, a single image, a new image, text, call-outs—whatever you want. One display board per entry. A portrait layout is preferable, but landscape is allowed. Poster boards are not returned after the jury and are recycled in a sustainable process.

San Francisco Categories only: Product, Graphics, Digital, Spaces, Health, Transport, Civic, Engineering, Experience & WEAR. If you are producing display posters or boards yourself, please have them delivered to arrive no later than two weeks prior to the entry deadline. Send to the shipping address above.

If you are submitting work from afar, you may wish to have a display poster made directly by Spark, instead of shipping them to our jury site. This can save time, shipping costs and is very convenient. For your convenience, Spark can produce these at extra cost. They require advance payment. Payment will be made via our Paypal account. The Spark team will produce a high-quality display poster and deliver it to the Spark juries.

The process is simple—you send a digital JPG file to: Posters@sparkawards.com. They will be printed on photo-quality stock and be delivered to the Spark Jury. Please give Spark ample time to create your posters—do not wait until deadline! Spark can not be responsible for entries that arrive too late for processing and delivery. The delivery deadline for board creation is Wednesday, November 8. We must have your files and payment by 5pm PST (California) on (or preferably before) that day.

Spark will produce display boards to Spark specified sizes of A3+; 13” x 19” (33cm x 48 cm).

The Images should be set to 150 dpi—at their final output size. RGB is recommended. Please name your file Spark.(your_design’s name).jpg. Please note that Tif and PDF files are not accepted.

All Prints will cost US$75 each. These prices include taxes and delivery to the Spark Jury site. Spark requires full pre-payment before production.

If you would like to order a display poster for the judging, send a note to posters@sparkawards. Make sure to list each separate design entry name in your note. Spark will then send you a Paypal invoice for the amount due, which can be paid by a wide range of methods (credit card, bank transfer, etc.)

All entrants agree to the Terms and Conditions found in their entry form at the Spark Registration site. This includes your explicit permission to contact you regarding Spark information via email. By entering this competition, you and your company affirm that your entry is original and does not infringe upon the rights of any person or entity. The Spark Awards are not liable for any copyright or trademark infringement on the part of the entrant. Spark entrants are advised and required to obtain third party consents where required by law or by best ethical practices. If a dispute takes place, all legal expenses will be born by the entrant, and any winning entry is subject to losing the award without recompense or refund.

Entrants own the Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the original design work they submit to the Spark Awards competitions. Spark does not own original I.P. rights or works entered into the competitions, but has a royalty-free, perpetual right to use that work in connection with publicity and promotion of Spark programs. Spark Award sponsors or partners (Businesses and Organizations) do not own design entries, original research, or design materials that they sponsor or support unless a written license or other transfer of rights in those works is executed by the author(s) and acknowledged in writing by all parties, including Spark.

South Korean entrants: please note that Spark emails are blocked by Naver, DAUM, Nate and Hanmail. Do not register with these addresses, because we cannot communicate with you– for example, to tell you that you won! Use another service– Gmail and Hotmail work fine.