Hi everyone and happy Monday! Corey Barker here filling in for Scott today because he is on vacation and Brad “The Beard” Moore asked us to post a little something. With Photoshop World coming up in a few weeks I wanted to share my thoughts around what used to be one of my most favorite parts of the event and that is the Guru Award competition. (I say used to because I can no longer enter, I actually help judge them now.) Anyway in case you are unaware, the Guru Awards is a contest open to all Photoshop World attendees who can submit images in a number of categories like Commercial, Retouching, Artistic, Photography, etc. These images are then judged by a panel of experts and then the winners are announced at the event. The reason I think this is such a great thing is because where I am at today can be somewhat attributed to winning a couple of these very awards.

Long before I was an instructor for KelbyOne and Photoshop World I was a regular NAPP member and had attended several Photoshop World events. When I first heard about the Guru awards I was rather intimidated because I did not think my work was good enough to win. However one year I found a piece I had done and decided to just submit it to see what would happen. Besides it was free to enter so what was there to lose? Well it turns out that image ended up getting me recognized as a finalist in the Artistic category. Suddenly my confidence got a little boost. So the next year I was determined to do better so when I registered for Photoshop World I immediately started playing around with images to submit. After coming so close the last time, I just had to see what I could do for the next one.

Why was I so motivated? I wasn’t getting paid. Yeah there is the glory of winning but I also realized I was getting something worth more. It is because competition breeds creativity. It wasn’t necessarily the award itself that was the goal, though having an award is certainly great for marketing purposes. I was once told by one of my instructors in art school to always enter art contests. Big or small, local or national, enter as many contests as you could handle because selling yourself as an award winning designer gave you and edge over others but later I discovered it was more than that. I started to realize that I was becoming better and better at Photoshop and I found ideas were coming to me a lot easier than before. The result of pushing myself to do something different, that no one had seen before. I was having fun!

A couple years later I ended up taking home the Guru award in the Commercial category. I was getting recognized for my work at a major industry event. Which was pretty cool, but I was also getting something much more valuable, I was advancing my skill set. I continued every year to enter not just the Guru awards at Photoshop World but also other design competitions until, in 2006, I was hired to be an instructor for what was then the National Association of Photoshop Professionals as well as an instructor at Photoshop World. It was a dream come true!  I found out later that they had remembered me winning a couple of Guru awards and that was how my name stuck out more than others for the job.

So the moral of the story is to push yourself to be better than you are. There’s is always more to learn. Always try to show the world something it has never seen before, or perhaps to look at something in a different way and enter as many design contests as you can. Not just for the industry recognition, which is great, but because the nature of competition will enhance your skills and make you more creative.

If you are in fact going to Photoshop World this August in Las Vegas you still have time to enter the Guru Awards. The submission deadline is July 20, 2015. Go to www.photoshopworld.com for more details.

A Creative Exercise
I want to leave you with a little creative exercise that I do often that helps me keep my creativity alive and also presents problem solving scenarios. It’s called the 30-Minute Composite. Choose 2-4 random images in your library of photos. Then give yourself just 30 minutes to come up with something cool. You can only use the images chosen beforehand and give yourself an assignment like a movie poster or a package design, or whatever. The key is to stick to the time limit. By limiting resources like the number of images and the amount of time you are forcing yourself to be creative in a pinch. This will condition your mind to come up with creative solutions. Now you will not succeed every time. Many times I have gotten to the end and had nothing to show but I may have gotten a better understanding of the software or how to approach something the next time. We can learn from failure as much as we can from success. Try it and see what happens. I do this exercise at least once a week to keep my wheels turning. It beneficial and it is a lot of fun! Have a creative week!

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5 Comments

  1. Corey,
    Whomever walks off the stage this year with the award will have big shoes to fill following your exceptional work for so many years!

  2. […] (1) CALL FOR ENTRIES: The Photoshop World Guru Awards This is a photo/image competition just for people who attend the conference (so your odds of winning in a category are pretty decent) , and there are categories for everything from illustration to retouching to compositing, and entry is free to any registered attendee (and  entry is only for registered attendees). The official rules, and form for uploading your images to the competition are right here. Good luck! (btw: if you’re on the fence about entering, read this post from Photoshop World Instructor Corey Barker about his career changed after winning a Guru Award back when he was an attendee – here’s that link). […]

  3. […] (1) CALL FOR ENTRIES: The Photoshop World Guru Awards This is a photo/image competition just for people who attend the conference (so your odds of winning in a category are pretty decent), and there are categories for everything from illustration to retouching to compositing, and entry is free to any registered attendee (and entry is only for registered attendees). The official rules and form for uploading your images to the competition are right here. Good luck! (btw: if you’re on the fence about entering, read this post from Photoshop World Instructor Corey Barker about how his career changed after winning a Guru Award back when he was an attendee – here’s that link). […]

  4. […] (1) CALL FOR ENTRIES: The Photoshop World Guru Awards This is a photo/image competition just for people who attend the conference (so your odds of winning in a category are pretty decent), and there are categories for everything from illustration to retouching to compositing, and entry is free to any registered attendee (and entry is only for registered attendees). The official rules and form for uploading your images to the competition are right here. Good luck! (btw: if you’re on the fence about entering, read this post from Photoshop World Instructor Corey Barker about how his career changed after winning a Guru Award back when he was an attendee – here’s that link). […]

  5. […] other highlight was, of course,  the Award Ceremony for the Guru Awards at the end of the show! As luck would have it, one of the winners, Jeff Dannay of Sweet Light […]

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