This year, DesignRush ran a global design competition for students across three categories:
The purpose of the competition was to recognize the best emerging talent in the global market.
DesignsRush expert panel of judges included in-house and partner agency UX, UI and graphic design experts. The panel reviewed and scored each valid entry based on the selection criteria outlined below.
Scroll on to see the best work in each category, as well as to get to know the universities and academies that helped our applicants hone their talent.
DesignRush’ select panel of judges, which consisted of in-house and agency specialists in each of the competition categories, used the following criteria to evaluate submissions:
Graphic designers who produce outstanding work have a few characteristics in common:
Our judges spotted these qualities among the following five designers:
According to Wong, Penguin Classics are timeless and despite their reputation, young people in Hong Kong are losing their interest in reading English books.
So, the idea of the project was to take an initiative and with conceptual design to promote these books as well as motivate the readers to start visiting bookstores more often.
The result was a collection of different artwork that combined compelling imagery with English and Chinese messaging.
Wong Ho Lam is a student at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University School. He is a fourth-year student majoring in Communication Design.
He believes that good design is concept-driven, understandable and visually-communicative.
He puts emphasis on the values of aesthetics, craftsmanship and storytelling at the same time.
Wong’s posters are playful, unique and immersive artwork that merges traditional with innovative design ideas.
The design is quite consistent when mixing typography, so despite the variety, it still seems balanced which is a difficult effect to achieve.
Another sign of both talent and skill are Wong Ho Lam’s illustrations. He has used them thoughtfully to support the content as well as to make an impact.
In some posters, the amount of text in the paragraphs could be reduced to allow the reader to better consume the message.
The background of the blue posters could have more contrast to highlight the design.
Cristina’s task was to create a poster to promote the live performance of Silent Sky historical fiction drama that features the story of Henrietta Leavitt, an astronomer.
According to the designer, Silent Sky conveys the story behind the silhouette: Henrietta Leavitt's knowledge, ability and character.
The early 1900s was a time when women's ideas were ignored, as is true for Leavitt's work in astronomy.
By placing illustrative pieces of the astronomer’s life within her silhouette, Cristina wanted to show viewers that even though many would dismiss Leavitt at the face-level for being a woman, there is a story within her.
Cristina is an inventive designer with a passion for “human-centered designs” and innovative technology.
She is a George Fox University student in the third year of studies, majoring in Information Systems.
This graphic design is balanced, has personality and shows us an excellent usage of white space along with a unique illustration.
Based on the cool palette, the combination of soft and clear typography, and symmetry in composition, it is clear that Cristina wants to tell us a story that will transport us to a tranquil space.
The creative typeface featured within the illustration is perhaps too loud for the overall mood of the design. Using an option with less pronounced movement would have contributed to the balance.
Another detail to be mindful of when designing posters is context. Today, when we design posters, we choose fonts and create compositions that can translate well across platforms, from print to desktop and mobile.
Claudia created posters for an imaginary Chinese-American Film Festival.
For these designs, she incorporated cultural elements such as the Chinese character for “film” and the imagery of thread, a recurring motif in many Chinese literature pieces that symbolize connection and fluidity.
The color palette was based on commonly used colors for Chinese opera costumes.
Claudia Shao is an undergraduate student at NYU Tandon School of Engineering studying Integrated Digital Media, with a minor in Digital Art and Design.
She is passionate about visual and performing arts and she hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment/media sector.
This is a vibrant, colorful and timeless design. The designer did a great job combining typography and visual graphic elements that are directly connected to the Chinese culture.
She also did a great job scaling her design for different platforms, from print poster to Instagram.
The font used in the composition of the poster has a lot of personality.
Even with the understanding that the “Chinese-American Film Festival” is a hypothetical project, Claudia was too optimistic when budgeting for content on her poster.
To be applicable to real-world scenarios, her posters would feature at least three times more text.
Created in Adobe Photoshop, this is a self-portrait design that reflects Thao’s cultural background as a Vietnamese woman growing up in America.
In the West, Vietnam is commonly associated with the Vietnam War and rainforests. Thao’s design, however, paints a portrait of rich cultural legacy and sublime natural beauty, placing a spotlight on the elements that build the country’s identity beyond the narratives in the Western popular culture.
She chose to highlight the flowers and nature that define the country, and the symbol of double happiness to contrast the rough portrayals.
Thao Nguyen is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Integrated Digital Media with a minor in Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering.
She enjoys working on brand designs and visual advertising campaigns and she is currently interning at The Syndicate as a Digital Marketing and Design Intern.
She hopes to cross into the entertainment and marketing space as a designer and art director to help build narratives that will draw audiences together and push for the importance of story representation in the industry.
This is an unusual, authorial design infused with personality and meaning.
What attracted us to this design was how creative and out-of-the-box it was in comparison with the rest.
While we did prioritize designs that would work in “real-life" projects, we had to recognize that creativity is in its essence freedom of expression. By recognizing Thao’s work, we wanted to support students’ out-of-the-box-thinking.
Besides, this artwork does feature some good usage of the collage design technique.
We encourage Thao to keep working on her Photoshop skills and composition. Her collage shadows need some improvement to make the photo more natural, for instance.
According to Mariam:
Her work included posters related to the museum’s events, a re-imagination of their current website and branded merchandise.
Mariam Elasser is a graduate at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute studying Communication, Media and Design and Electronic Arts.
She is skilled in graphic design and film with an interest in UI/UX design and front-end web development.
Mariam is also passionate about analog/film photography and she can often be found in darkrooms developing photos by hand.
Here we see another effective interpretation of the traditional concept like a museum using modern design techniques.
The composition of typography, photos and graphic elements translate into a unique, and expressive look.
Mariam shows a good mastery of color. What we also appreciated is her mindfulness of different contexts; she showed us what her graphic design would look like as advertising material, branded merchandise and even a website.
With a unique logo, consistent colors and eye-catching shapes, Mariam has turned the museum into a real brand modernizing the experience for the present customer.
Combining several types of typography is difficult.
For instance, on the website, the menu information seems exaggeratedly large. On the homepage, there is also a very large paragraph of text.
Our advice would be to start small, with a couple of options, and build from there over time.
More than compelling visuals, an effective UI design is user-oriented and focused on clarity, consistency and simplicity.
Here are the best UI design submissions:
Cassandra worked on a UI design project where she created a mobile version of a print menu of a mock restaurant called “Sunset in Brooklyn.”
Cassandra Liau studies Integrated Digital Media at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, completing her senior year at the university.
Sophisticated and fresh, this project definitely caught out eyes.
The serif typography, calm color palette and the use of space communicate a high-end brand image.
The designer needs to be careful with the small typography as it may be hard for the user to read it on mobile.
She should also make the CTAs more visible and appealing to increase the click-through rates.
Lorelei created the UI designs for an app called Oto, a fictional automobile rental company.
Unlike other rental companies, Oto only rents out electric automobiles.
Lorelei López is pursuing dual bachelor's degrees in Graphic Design and Marketing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
As a multidisciplinary designer, some of her passions include branding and identity design, product design and UI/UX design.
She is currently working as a graphic designer for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her future goal is to successfully run her own freelance business as well as be part of the creative team for a large media and advertising company.
The designer showed a solid understanding of app design best practices, from using the dark mode for comfortable viewing to the strategic use of color to highlight the key information/calls to action.
Lorelei created an easy-to-navigate interface, preserving the hierarchy between text information, graphic elements and photos.
What we also appreciated is that she provided us with all the screens to illustrate the app’s workflow. This is a designer who understands the purpose of her work.
The designer could do a slightly better job maintaining the consistency of colors and shapes across the pages: some pages have a gradient and others don’t, some buttons have curved corners and others don’t.
Jovanna is a student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She is studying Fine Arts with a concentration on Graphic Design.
Compassion is an app designed to bridge the gap between the disabled community and their smart city.
The app features an easy–to–use navigation system with voice commands and real-time instructions to assist people with disabilities to navigate their city efficiently.
With the option to request access to an area, users are connected directly with the local government and can submit a request.
The integrated wheelchair access function helps users easily find locations in their city that already provide accessibility.
We loved that this UX designer found a real-world problem and proposed a solution for it.
She was mindful of her target users. For instance, she used large typography to make her content accessible to users with limited eyesight.
Another thing to be noted is that the designer was even mindful of how she presented her project; she created a video to promote the app.
The idea behind the color palette was good in theory, but the tones of blues and oranges Jovanna chose did not match well.
Another area that fell a little flat was the choice of typography. We believe that Jovanna could have had some more fun with it, keeping the font easy to read, but also using it as a design element.
Sally created a prototype for a mobile application called StreaMed. It tracks users' physical and mental health utilizing a 5G medical kit for those who want easier access to medical help.
Considering that students often neglect their health until severe issues develop, she wanted to find a solution for them to be able to work on their well-being in less time-consuming, affordable and convenient methods.
Her primary goal was to keep the design simple, easily visible and accessible for anyone.
As Sally states:
Sally (Seong Min) Lee is in her first year of Master's in Integrated Digital Media at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
She has experience in working as a product designer and UX designer and her background in the field started with an interest in 3D design and observing how her audience interacts with the artwork.
The designer showed a great understanding of app (and other) design principles.
Seong Min created a user-friendly hierarchy of information, combining text and graphical elements for intuitive navigation and content consumption.
We also enjoyed her color palette which made the app look modern and aesthetically pleasing.
The only note we had for Seong Min was to be careful with the small typography on mobile.
Modern Asian Cuisine (MAC) UI/UX design is a concept for a website that would bring a variety of cultures together through the appreciation of gourmet cuisines. The user would have a taste of Asia, right at their fingerprints.
The design consists of a variety of blue tones that were used to complement the general warm colors of the images.
Alexis Flores is a graphic design student completing her 4th year at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV).
She believes that graphic design is all about effective communication and problem-solving that has the power to bring about change and influence.
This bold design shows a good understanding of color and the use of space.
The dark background and contrasting mint make the key elements of the design stand out, while the controlled use of color options allows the designer to put gourmet images to the forefront.
Alexis pays more attention to scale, whether it is how she uses font in the menu to the text size in the mobile view.
Another area for improvement is content placement. For instance, in the desktop view, the side content competes with the main header “endless discovery.”
Great logo designers create logotypes that are engaging, versatile and memorable.
These five logo designs won our judges’ attention:
The VT PRISM rebrand was a year-long process that began with a vision to highlight the organization's history while also embracing its evolution and continued innovation.
The concept of the logo's form is rooted in the original mark, taking the core shape and modifying it to create a simplified and bolder mark.
The 3D box formed by the negative space at the center of the mark not only gives prismatic qualities but also shows light in a physical state of moving through the box.
The triangular shapes forming the outline of the mark visually represent the light being emitted from the center box.
As an organization PRISM is always pushing the boundaries and "thinking outside of the box". Charlotte chose the new color palette to allow for bold and fresh designs.
PRISM strives to create in ways that are accessible and inclusive to all audiences.
Charlotte Cannon is a Virginia Tech student in her fifth year, pursuing a dual degree in Graphic Design and Cello Performance.
She is passionate about UX/UI and enjoys visualizing experiences and designing solutions.
Charlotte is always looking for new ways to learn about design and the ways it affects everyday life.
Charlotte’s work shows that she understands the purpose of her project. Rather than produce something radically different from the original, she focused her attention on seemingly small and meaningful changes to the icon and color palette.
To make the logo easier to use in digital environments, she relied on minimalism and clean typography.
Charlotte has a good eye for color as shown in the subtle variation among the turquoise colors.
She used secondary colors with web design accessibility in mind.
In terms of presentation, the designer could build several applications of the logo so that we could see how it behaves in different contexts.
Early Bird Cafe is a logo concept for a cafe. For her project, Alexis used a toucan deliberately because these birds are particularly active in the morning.
She merged geometric shapes with the curvature of a coffee bean and playful font which resulted in a design that is both bold and engagingly soft. The result: This early bird catches the design prize!
Alexis truly uses design as a means of communication. We loved the rationale behind the bird choice, both in terms of the "early bird" symbolic as well as using a pelican to infuse meaning into her logo.
Alexis' talent is undeniable. Her design tells a story. Execution, however, leaves some room for improvement.
It is important to be mindful of context: The muted color story could hinder the visibility of this logo in various contexts. Relative to the iconography, the font size could render the brand name too small in social media profile pictures and similar.
Gabriela C. Torres is a Business Administration student at UTRGV. Her main passion is branding and marketing.
With cheerful, decorative fonts and vivid colors, the designer successfully shows off the brand’s personality.
The bird in the “O” could be a sign of freedom but also a symbol of a fresh and fun attitude, conveying the message that the children who would attend this daycare would be a part of a vibrant community.
We enjoyed the geometry and symmetry of this design.
Moreover, Gabriela used original typography which is quite versatile and easy to combine into different environments and designs.
The color scheme is vibrant enough to communicate both the joy and innocence of childhood.
The bird silhouette within the letter O feels a little rushed. We would have advised Gabriella to hand-draw it and then process it in Illustrator for tidier execution.
Noemi developed a logo for PlantZero, a company that produces apparel, home, beauty and pet products made entirely of eco-friendly ingredients, recycled, reusable and biodegradable material.
PlantZero adds a simple yet modern twist to a symbolic color for an eco-friendly look.
Noemi’s goal was to represent sustainability with a futuristic look, accomplished by the iconic green color, gradient and overall simple design.
Noemi Garcia is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science with a minor in Graphic Design and Educational Technology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Her goal is to become a graphic designer, web developer or technology integrated specialist. She is currently volunteering as a Creative Director, Program Director and Media Technology leader at her church.
This design does a good job answering the project requirement. We appreciated the combination of the play on the acronym using the letter “P” and number “0”, as well as the traditional use of the color palette (green for eco-conscious brands).
We wish we could have seen how Noemi envisioned her brand in the horizontal version and a couple of other applications of it.
Osbel was excited to work on a project that may become a reality in the future.
Rainbow Summer Camp combines the elements of athletic and environmentally friendly adventure which is what Osbel wanted to capture in her logo design.
According to the designer:
Osbel Olivares is a Graphic Design senior at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Osbel’s logo design does capture the “elements of athletic and environmentally friendly adventure” through the playful use of color and geometric typography.
We appreciate the use of color and gradients and this traditional approach to visualizing a brand-oriented towards children.
On the topic of color, a variety like this is difficult and often impossible to use on colorful backgrounds unless there is a solid-color logo variant. In this case, the element of fun might not translate well. Additionally, the box that houses “summer camp” falls flat in terms of color choice.
Nother concern with this design is symmetry and cohesion. The elements, such as the text box and the little circle at the top, could use some more work in terms of alignment and how they relate to one another.
Apart from choosing the top five applicants for the logo design, graphic design and UI design categories, DesignRush judges also made a selection and carefully handpicked five overall winners that delivered outstanding designs:
The talented student presented us with a series of posters mixing illustration, typography, and an exciting color palette.
He has excellent illustrative skills and his work is a unique collection of visually consistent posters, interesting and playful illustrations.
The designer managed to mix good design with usability in the smallest details.
She reached the next level when creating an easy-to-navigate interface in her project and preserved the contrast between text information, graphic elements and photos.
Sophisticated and fresh, Cassandra’s aesthetic is both visually appealing and functional. She shows an advanced understanding of brand image and how it informs design.
In many instances, the designer's job is to simplify the design and make it better.
Cassandra is the type of designer who takes care of everything in the smallest details, with refined design techniques she manages to show all potential while developing her work.
Mariam combines artistic sensibility with strategic design thinking.
Her style is unique and expressive and, as she hones her skills, we see her making her mark with brands unafraid to be different.
Our top five winners in each category come from elite universities and cutting-edge technological research centers that play a major role in shaping and developing various domains in each institution’s area including tech and business.
They produce top-grade talent thanks to their robust bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs that are aimed at educating and training students to:
The top six universities for design talent are:
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is a widely recognized research university with several campuses.
According to the school, its mission is:
Counting 27,504 students, UTRGV is ranked as the 10th biggest university in Texas in 2019.
The university’s School of Art Faculty offers programs that allow students to develop different creative and communication skills through the conceptual and analytical comprehension of images.
Here they can pursue degrees in:
The school of Art has a 73,000 square-foot facility (Edinburg) with cutting-edge studios and labs in various fields like film photography, drawing and ceramics.
It also has a 20,000 square-foot facility (Brownsville) with 20-foot-high ceilings that allow for optimum student art production.
The School of Arts won five Adobe Creative Jam (UI/UX) awards in 2020.
Frida Retana, a student at the school states:
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering ranks 38th on US News’ list of the best engineering schools.
At this school, students can pursue bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees as well as non-degree certificates.
NYU Tandon School’s Integrated Design & Media (IDM) program combines creative practices with artistic inquiry and scientific research as well as various emerging media technologies.
According to NYU Tandon School of Engineering:
Additionally, students studying Integrated Design & Media have access to internships at different competitive companies and fast-paced startups in the city including:
After the completion of this program, they can develop careers as:
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University ranks as the 15th best university for art and design globally.
Its School of Design offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees, equipping students with a highly diverse design expertise.
The school’s research and academic programs are governed by these core values:
According to PolyU Design, the school "aims to be a leading transdisciplinary design school” that:
Virginia Tech is a former military technical institute. The institute has nine colleges and a graduate school, offering students 110 undergraduate majors and 170 master and doctoral programs.
The mission of the university is to reimagine how education and technology intersect as well as encourage students to “invent the future”.
According to Niche, Virginia Tech is the 19th best college for design in America, thanks to its robust graphic design program that prepares students for a career in the field while focusing on:
After pursuing a graduate degree, students can work in different areas like:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is one of the world's most elite technological research universities and holds 49th place among the best research universities ranked by US News.
Its bachelor of science program in Communication, Media and Design (CMD) educates professional communicators across various media literacies and formats and trains them to:
With this program, students can:
Career opportunities that this program offers include:
George Fox as a nationally recognized Christian university that offers its students global opportunities to grow both academically and spiritually.
According to US News, it ranks as the 61 best school for undergraduate teaching that has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,635.
At the university’s Art & Design school, students can select from five majors:
These programs are led by professionals and include internship and apprenticeship opportunities that can help students become proficient in photography, printmaking, painting, digital art, animation and other types of media.
Students are exposed to the latest methods, techniques and outputs in the industry to allow them to become great creative thinkers, problem solvers and ideators - a skillset all employers seek.
The DesignRush Judges are competent in each of the three categories logo design, graphic design and UI design.
Jeferson Vieira dos Santos
The Multidisciplinary Designer has been working on developing creative strategies and good solutions for advertising campaigns, graphic design, digital marketing, user interface and branding projects. He is passionate about his work, methods and improvement process.
Creative Leader / Visual Designer / New Media Specialist
Fabiano has over 10 years of experience in different fields of design such as Graphic Editorial and Digital Design. He has worked as an Art and Animation Director for clients such as Netflix, Burger King, Adobe and Volkswagen, among others.
Alec has a background in psychology and history of art and his designs are always driven by strategy and logic. His passion is to bring award-winning ideas to life and takes pride in developing unmatched pixel-perfect designs.