How One Expo Drives Student Interest With a Design Contest

Detroit's North American International Auto Show has held a poster design contest targeted at high schoolers for decades. The contest gives student designers a chance to have their artwork displayed at a major event—along with the opportunity to win some prize money.

For three decades, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), one of the largest automobile shows in the country, has found a pretty effective way to ramp up interest in the expo among schools around the state of Michigan: It’s held a poster contest.

Targeted at high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, the contest calls for 18-inch by 24-inch posters designed to highlight the longtime Motor City-based auto show. Designs can be created in a wide variety of forms, including computer-generated, hand-drawn, or using mixed media.

“It is amazing to me that with nearly 1,000 entries, each one is very unique and I enjoy seeing how they represent our great show in their works,” 2018 NAIAS Chairman Ryan LaFontaine said in a news release of last year’s entries.

The contest both drums up creativity among students in the months before the event and creates a way for the event to give back to students. Winners can receive as much as $1,000, will have their artwork printed in the official program for the expo, and will see their posters displayed throughout the event at Detroit’s Cobo Center.

Upon announcing last year’s winners, 2017 NAIAS Chairman Sam Slaughter noted that the event also drew attention to potential design talent that might find a place in the automotive sector.

“The work and creativity displayed by these young people is an exciting window into the future as to the talent the automotive design community may one day be the beneficiary of,” Slaughter said in a news release. “The winning posters are examples of what this contest is all about: the creative minds of Michigan’s future and a passion for the industry.”

This year’s contest, which is just getting underway, will accept entries through November 21. Next year’s NAIAS will take place January 13-28.

A portion of last year's winning entry. (Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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