Skip to content

View Entries Below

Design and produce a printed greeting card for the occasion of your choice. Express a sentiment in a unique way that appeals to a broad audience.


GAERF 2019 Student Design Competition2019 GAERF SDC Flyer


APTech Announces Competition Winners

Winning Entries

View the Winning Entries

Secondary School Entries

View Secondary School Entries
Part One

Secondary School Entries

View Secondary School Entries
Part Two

Post-Secondary School Entries

View Post-Secondary School Entries

Competition Rules

Entry Must Include BOTH—a mailed printed greeting card and an online submission:

  1. Submit Online:
    • Completed online entry form
    • Uploaded digital image of the greeting card. Upload an image of the card on display–NOT the design file. The image will be used in a display of all entries. Uploaded file must be in .jpg or .png format and less than 10 MB (can be uploaded as .zip).
  2. Mail In:
    • The printed, finished greeting card
    • A copy of the online entry form

The PRINTED GREETING CARD will be evaluated for judging – NOT the digital image.

All Entries Must Be:

  • Completed during the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Original work of the student and contain no trademark or copyright material.
    • Eligible students attend recognized secondary or post-secondary institutions in the continental United States, studying in a graphic communications/printing, advertising, graphic design or interactive media program.
  • Submitted by the instructor.
  • Postmarked by the June 7th, 2019 deadline.

Design Requirements

  • The flat and folded greeting card should be close in dimension to standard card sizes. You may vary slightly on the measurements. Standard folded sizes are:
    • 5” x 7” – fits an A7 envelope
    • 4 ½” x 6 1/8” fits an A6 envelope
    • 4 ¼” x 5 ½” fits an A2 envelope
  • Example: a page size of 10” x 7”, when folded, will be a card size of 5” x 7”.
  • Greeting card must have a minimum of four panels:
    • Front panel (cover)
    • Two inside panels or inside spread (left and right side in horizontal layout – or top and bottom in vertical layout)
    • Back panel MUST INCLUDE the following:
      • Fictitious artist or fictitious company contact information (this could be a pretend online contact, made-up phone number, e-mail or street address)
      • Price of the greeting card, or non-active barcode mock-up.
  • You may use any type of fold, which could increase the number of panels (or half panels). For example:
    • C fold
    • Accordion fold
    • Gatefold
    • Spiral
  • You may submit pop-up cards or include other 3D effects.
  • There is no requirement for paper weight.
    (Note: a medium weight paper or card stock would give the best results.)


  • Find a fresh way to communicate your greeting card message for any occasion, announcement, invitation, holiday, sympathy, just getting in touch, love, humor, etc.
  • Try using a common theme with a universal appeal and add a personal touch.
  • Before creating your design, consider how the greeting card will be folded and whether it will incorporate optional printing enhancements like die cutting, foil stamping, pop-up elements or tabs.
  • Think of your card in a store display, where only the upper third is visible to shoppers. Your design should use this area to immediately communicate the topic of the card.
  • Grab attention with your design, express the essence of your message and attract readers to open it!
  • Be sure you have no typos in the text! You can use words on both the outside and inside of the card. Carefully consider use of typeface for best impact.
  • If your cover design message is strong, you may prefer to have the inside of the card be blank.
  • Production cost is irrelevant for the judging; especially if you incorporate an optional enhancement or embellishment. Just be sure the special effect can be produced by a printing or print finishing process.

Competition Guidelines FAQs

What is the purpose of the competition?

Students should demonstrate the knowledge of designing for and producing a printed product; executing the steps from design concept to file preparation to printed output.

What are the steps to compete?

  • Choose your greeting card theme.
  • Plan your greeting card design. Refer to “Tips” section for advice.
  • Design your greeting card. Be creative, printing enhancements are optional but encouraged!
  • Prepare the digital files for printing.
  • Print the card, incorporating any printing enhancements and finishing.
  • Have your instructor complete the online entry and mail the required submission.
  • Your end-product – the printed greeting card – is evaluated for judging.

Is a specific printing enhancement required?

Any printing enhancement is welcome, but not required. Examples:

  • Foil Stamping
  • UV Coating
  • Spot UV
  • Die Cutting
  • Laminating
  • Spot Color
  • Embossing
  • Debossing
  • Metallic Ink

How will the winners be selected?

Winners are chosen by a panel of industry judges who will evaluate the printed greeting cards based on:

  • Creativity and originality
  • Unique expression
  • Widespread appeal
  • Captivating design
  • Clear identification of the greeting card theme
  • Correct use of any optional printing enhancements

Can I submit my design file as my “mailed physical submission”?

No. A design file will include bleeds, crop marks, fonts, etc.

Required for entry is the printed greeting card, trimmed and finished to final specs.

Why must I submit a digital image in addition to the printed greeting card?

The digital images will be used to showcase the entries for display purpose:

  • Online
  • In the GAERF Student Design Competition exhibit at PRINT® 19(October 3-5, 2019, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL)
  • In a slide presentation of all entries (throughout the duration of PRINT 19)
  • For signboards of the winning entries (on site at PRINT 19, October 2019)

Will entries be returned to students?

No. All entries become the property of the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) and the Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech).

May instructors submit more than one entry?

YES! Instructors are encouraged to submit an unlimited number of entries—one entry per student.

Are team entries acceptable?

No. Students must work independently to produce individual entries.

Is there a fee to enter?


Can a student send in their own entry?

No. Student entries must be submitted by their instructor.

How is an entry submitted?


Access the online entry form. (form is currently under development)

Complete the online entry form.

Upload a digital image of the greeting card (.jpg or .png), file size less than 1MB.

Accept the competition’s Terms and Conditions and submit entry form.

Mail the printed greeting card and a copy of the completed entry form to:

Student Design Competition
c/o GAERF and APTech
1899 Preston White Drive
Reston, VA 20191