How Winning the International Design Contest Changed My Life

Contest-Logo-horizontal-on-black_RGBEntering the contest

Well, it has been almost two years since the last CorelDRAW International Design Contest . When I try to think back to the competition and the process of creating my design, I remember first my decision to participate. I had no idea what to expect.

Truthfully, I don’t normally approve of design competitions where designers compete against each other on one project just for the chance of some prize or payment, specifically crowdsourcing. However, this contest was different. First of all, the subject matter of my submission was my choice. I could do anything I want. I could have just submitted past projects, with the permission of my clients of course. Second of all, I believe in CorelDRAW and enjoy using it on an almost-daily basis.

I saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself by working on a design for a fictitious business: Steampunk Stella’s. I felt that, in a best-case scenario, I might win or place high in one of the categories. In the worst case scenario, I would spend a lot of time creating a design that could be a nice show piece for our portfolio. But the goal was to try new things and challenge myself. Whatever happened, I would learn something along the way.

The creation process

I always liked the Steampunk genre, but never had a client request it. The funny thing is, since winning, I have had several customers request Steampunk-themed design work after seeing my design.

So with a loose theme picked out, I then decided to pretend that I was the owner of a bar or restaurant. If time and money were no option, what would I want? How could I tie those ideas together and maybe incorporate a sexy woman into the equation? And Stella was born.


It was fun to ‘chip away’ at my design. Little by little I would work on it after work, and little by little it came to life. All the while I enjoyed the great tools that CorelDRAW has to offer. Before I knew it the deadline approached and I knew I had to wrap it up.


Winning the grand prize is kind of a blur now. At our family-run business, we were excited for not only the recognition, but also because one of the prizes was a new Roland VersaCAMM Printer. We already owned an earlier version of the VersaCAMM that served us very well for many years. We were considering purchasing a newer one to replace it. Winning a new one couldn’t have come at a better time, and because of the increase of work in the year since, we’ve been running this printer non-stop. It’s a huge part of our business.

How winning changed my life

Since winning the contest, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Roland on a few projects; an opportunity I might not have had without winning this competition. One of the projects we worked on was expanding the Steampunk Stella’s brand, all in an effort to showcase the many types of projects that can be realized with their wide selection of printers and products.

Using CorelDRAW, I created designs for beer labels and packaging, business cards, p.o.p. displays, menus, glass wear, signs and even a Stella’s Brand Hot Sauce. These designs are printed and produced at trade shows around the country.

Another amazing opportunity that has fallen in my lap since winning the contest is being named one of eight CorelDRAW Masters. To be included alongside these very talented CorelDRAW users is a huge feather in my cap. One of the responsibilities of being a CorelDRAW Master is create tutorials and webinars to help other designers and artists fine tune their craft. To be a part of that process means the world to me.

Along with being named a CorelDRAW Master, I’ve also had the pleasure of traveling to Corel’s Head Quarters in Canada to meet all the amazing people that create the software I enjoy using so much. I visited our neighbors in the north during the release party of CorelDRAW X6. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

Advice for others:

If I could give any advice to fellow designers and artists that wish to participate this year it would be this: Do what you love, and push yourself. If you challenge yourself and have fun doing it, whether you win the contest or not, you still win.

Will you enter the contest?

About Joe Diaz

Joe is the 2011 CorelDRAW International Design Contest Grand Prize Winner. He helps run a family owned sign shop and design firm in Pontiac, IL called Diaz Sign Art ( His work has been published in several trade magazines and he also teaches seminars on design. Joe is heavily involved in the Walldog Movement ( Joe specializes in logo design and vector illustrations.
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3 Responses to How Winning the International Design Contest Changed My Life

  1. Pingback: How Winning the International Design Contest Changed My Life - Gérard on Graphics -

  2. Pingback: Can graphic design contests benefit your career? | Corel Blogs

  3. Pingback: Can Graphic Design Contests benefit your career? - CMM ACADEMY

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