Design Quicky

Lately these past few months, I’m starting to feel unexcited or uninspired at work. Stress slowly creeping in. I smell burnout is on the way. Until I committed a crime — design sacrilege.

I needed to get out from the mundane routine of print publishing in the office just for a brief time. I can’t be gone for days or weeks since I’m a one-man-army when designing and managing the design of our magazine. So, I decided to take a bite of the forbidden fruit. I rebel and joined a mutiny of crowdsourcing.

I have two intentions for joining. One, to break the cycle of a mundane-five-day-office routine at work. Two, trying to get some extra cash out of it. No more, no less. I participated in three contest held by an online design crowdsourcing site. Though, I’ve signed up with them over a year just to observe the growing trend in the design industry. Unfortunately, I didn’t win at all three contests. But was lucky enough to be short-listed in the fourth stage — selection of winner — in two out of the three contests.

Here are the three contests I’d recently joined in, together with their respective design brief I lifted from the contest holders themselves and cut them short:

1. Book cover contest

Organization name: The Idea Factory

Description: I need a more dynamic book colour cover for both PDF print and electronic formats. This book was printed in 2007 and was nominated to a list of top management books in Canada by the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Page Size is 25 cm by 19 cm. I put a lot of focus on design of editorial pages and want a cover that focus on the key issue of designing a conference. This is much like a blue print for the conference. This has nothing to do with organizing the events (ie hotels, venues, speakers etc). It has to do with planning what people will do inside the conferences rooms to lean, share and collaborate. The book is framed on seven rules or strategies to prompt new thinking.

Notes: Keep in mind that this book is about what happens inside the meetings rooms. This is not about ‘how to organize a conference’. This is more like the work of how an architect designs and house and builders then build it. This book is about the blueprint for an effective and innovative conference. My goal is that participants will attend these events, find lots of great ideas and then act on them after the event.

My final design entries:

Proposed book cover designs

[My concept: Since design is the the theme of the book, I took inspiration from a blueprint plan.]

2. Postcard or flyer contest

Organization name:

Description: A flyer – to bring awareness to new office location, new brand, and website and 1300 phone number. Must use our logo on at least one side; the 1300 number (1300 829 249 and/or 1300 TAX BIZ); Twitter handle @BusinessTax1; and email address [Include the following texts] Tax Returns from $99.00 *, Get Organised With a business bookkeeper, Fixed Prices for any size or type of business, Come to us, or we come to you, any time that suits!

Notes: You have a lot of freedom in terms of style and “feel”. Treat this as a re-launch of an established business, looking to attract new clients in a new location. Brochure is to be used for mail out, and newspaper insert. Have a look at our website (, and also check out for a “feel” that I really like. Also look at & These firms run the same business model as mine. I uploaded my fixed price plans, in case you want to include some information from these, if it doesn’t confuse the theme you are after.

My final design entry:

Proposed flyer design

[My concept: I took inspiration from their current website to be more consistent and receivers can easily recognized the brand.]

3. Product packaging contest

Organization name: Kishé

Description: We need a beautiful coffee bag design that communicates who we are, and engages coffee buyers browsing in a store. We are still searching for our “look”, as we’re only now starting this social enterprise. Your design will be instrumental in shaping how our social enterprise communicates its values through its package design. We would like our coffee bag “look” to be simple, and friendly, yet beautiful, and sophisticated. We want our buyer to pick up our coffee bag because of it’s pleasing aesthetic attractiveness, easily read our story, and feel good about enjoying a great cup of organic coffee, which has the added benefit of supporting a social enterprise of small coffee farmers.

Notes: We are open to all your ideas, as we are at the beginning of our enterprise, therefore the whole color palette is available. We’re trying to have the package be in both English & Spanish, without making it difficult to read if you only understand one language.  This is a problem that we know we have, and would like to find a solution in beautiful design!

My three final design entries:

Proposed design for dark roast coffee packaging

Proposed design for medium roast coffee packaging

Proposed design for light roast coffee packaging

[My concept: I took inspiration from mountain ranges, particularly Banaue’s Batad Rice Terraces and incorporated Guatemala’s national colors.]

There’s a lot of things I learned from this growing trend — both bad and good.

The good ones, I felt energetic and alive during the process. I encountered problems that needs to be addressed through design which I’ve been missing since I took the path of publication design. I have to be resourceful. I have to think fast and solve design problems quickly and deliver their marketing objectives right away since these contest are running in a short period of time. I have to be creative in order to compete with these great designers all over the world not to be left out eating dust. I’m learning from other designers whom I’m competing with. Lastly I guess, don’t sourgrape. You can’t please everybody even if you have the best design offered — it boils down “mostly” to personal preference.

The bad ones? Well, I have to stay up late since most of these contest holders are from the other side of the globe — you’re under their time’s mercy. Forget your philosophy of “Downpayment first, before you make some corrections or revisions.” You have to accommodate their requests right away — as if they’re ordering in a fast food joint.

Now, will I go on? That’s the question I want to answer myself in the near future.


About battlefield_man

Jocas A. See. Visual communication designer. And a casual tourist

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