The Truth about the RDA: 5 Reasons to Enter

Posted inAnnouncing The Print RDA Winners
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When you think about entering your work into the 2016 Print Regional Design Annual—the industry’s most prestigious and well-respected American design competition, the definitive resource for the year’s best design, the most comprehensive survey of graphic design in the U.S—what do you feel? Excitement? Confidence? Self-doubt?

Here’s what we know about every last winner of the RDA: If they were feeling self-doubt when they submitted their work, they didn’t let that stop them. Perhaps they recognized that self-doubt always comes up when we’re going after greatness. Perhaps they made a conscious choice to not let those pesky feelings stop them. And perhaps they became inspired to go for it after learning the truth about the RDA.

The Truth about the Print Regional Design Annual: 5 Reasons to Enter

1. You are on the Playing Field

The RDA operates on a level playing field. The judges care about the work, not whether the name behind it is one they recognize. When our judges open your entries in our judging system, the first thing they tend to look at is the work itself. Zachary Petit, editor of Print, says it best:

To me, the beauty of the RDA is that it operates on a level playing field: Anyone can enter, and anyone can see their work in the pages of PRINT—from small firms to major corporations to independent designers. … The best designs win the day, leading many to have their work discovered, accelerating careers and attracting new clients.


A 2015 RDA winner from the South: Cotton Belles Southern Chic Boutique Logo // Jessica Mullis Graphic Design, Atlanta: Jessica Mullis (creative director/art director/designer); Cotton Belles Southern Chic Boutique (client)

2. The Judges are Excited to Review Your Work

Every year we round up a panel of judges that is both thrillingly skilled and thoroughly thrilled to have a look at your work. Those of you in the East: Can you picture Gail Anderson smiling while she zooms in on an image of your best recent work? Is Jennifer Morla going to eagerly review your project and select it to represent the Far West’s best? How might Jessica Walsh respond to your work out of NYC? And of course, Marc English for the Southwest, Timothy Goodman for the Midwest, and Bill Grant for the South—all of them excited to see your work.


A 2015 RDA winner from the Far West: After the Wave // nohawk, Ventura, CA; Scott Massey (art director), Brendon Thomas (editor), Grant Ellis (photo editor), Mike Gonsalves (designer), Scott Massey (illustrator), Sawka, Kimoto, Taylor (photographers), Kimball Taylor (writer); Surfer Magazine (client)

3. Your Region Needs You

The RDA is the only design competition organized by geography. Entering the RDA means seeing how your work measures up against your peers in your region and nationwide. Thousands of other creative professionals, art directors and studios look to the Annual to see the caliber of work coming out of your region. If you aren’t representing your region, who is? And perhaps the greater question is, What’s stopping you?


A 2015 RDA winner from the Midwest: Baker Marian Williams Design, Chicago; Marian Williams (creative director/art director/designer); Baker (client)

4. As a Winner, You’ll Get Complete Coverage

In recent years, the Print team has devoted more pages to the annual in order to give the competition its full due. Our judges go through thousands of entries to select more than 300 of the best designs, and the team at Print is dedicated to showcasing the winners in a variety of ways with excellence. If a judge selects your work as a Best of Region winner, Print will profile you and your team, featuring your project in an opening spread to the region.


A 2015 RDA winner from the Southwest: Central Market 20th Anniversary Posters // RBMM, Dallas; Jeff Barfoot (creative director/ art director/illustrator), Brandon DeLoach (art director/ designer/illustrator), Chris Smith (writer); Central Market (client)

5. You Have the Power to Inspire Others

If you’re one of the many who spend hours looking over the winners of the RDA every year, then you know how inspiring excellent work can be. Maybe you’ve been inspired by a firm in Texas to incorporate an unusual technique in your next annual report design. Maybe you once found logo inspiration in an NYC freelancer’s work. Or maybe seeing all of that greatness from your own region inspired you to take a leap and enter your own work.

A 2015 RDA winner from the East: Belclare Ad Campaign // Adams Design, Boston; Brenda Adams (creative director/art director/designer), Rodney Smith (photographer), Shelby Hypes (writer); The Noanett Group (client)

A 2015 RDA winner from the East: Belclare Ad Campaign // Adams Design, Boston; Brenda Adams (creative director/art director/designer), Rodney Smith (photographer), Shelby Hypes (writer); The Noanett Group (client)

So don’t let self-doubt, fear or anything else stop you. We’re looking forward to spotlighting your work and invite you to boldly enter today.


In graphic design, creative thinking skills are undoubtedly important, but sometimes the importance of critical thinking skills is overlooked.

In this 69-page ebook, we’ll hear from RDA judge Jessica Walsh and 12 other experts on thinking creatively in the digital age.

Soak up their wisdom as you develop a flexible mind that is ideal for visual communication, digital marketing or social media, and you’ll undoubtedly increase your value as a designer—to your clients, your employer, or simply your own work.