Need a push to work on a creative project, broaden your skillset, or connect with other creatives?
Taking part in a creative challenge could be the answer.
Creative challenges are events or programs that encourage you to work on something creative, often within a set timeframe. They almost always have a community aspect, making them a brilliant opportunity to share ideas with other creatives.
There is no one-size fits all format for these events. Some happen in person, while others are online. Some give you a daily to monthly prompt, while others leave the choice of what to work on entirely up to you. Many have a set start and end date but for others, you can begin whenever you like. Taking part in a challenge can be as easy as using a particular hashtag.
Here are the benefits of joining a creative challenge, and some of our favorite ones for designers, illustrators, writers, photographers, and more.
The Benefits of Creative Challenges
A key reason that many people complete a creative challenge is to gently push themselves, in an enjoyable way, while generating fresh creative work. There are many other reasons why they are beneficial, regardless of where you are in your creative journey.
The structure of a communal challenge provides motivation and accountability. The act of publicly committing to a challenge encourages you to make time for creativity and to keep at it – even if things don’t go as planned. That dedication can help you form better creative habits.
Prompt-based challenges are an opportunity to experiment. They often give you constraints to work with, giving you a direction and a problem to solve. Prompts can also help take some of the fear out of exploration. These challenges may nudge you to try out new tools, media, techniques, or ideas. Seeing other people’s take on the same prompt could help you to discover new directions and possibilities, too.
Creative challenges can also help you become more comfortable with sharing your work publicly. They help you overcome imposter syndrome and perfectionism by giving you a very receptive audience. And a compelling reason to share before you feel “ready”.
“In order to be found, you have to be findable.”Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you build a relationship with a like-minded community. Learning from others in a friendly environment and being able to pass on insights of your own, builds your knowledge base, your confidence, and that all-important creative support network.
Our Creative Challenge Top Picks
We’ve picked some challenges we think would be a good starting point for different creative mediums and industries.
Graphic Design: The Daily Logo Challenge
The Daily Logo Challenge offers you a fresh logo design brief every day for 50 days, delivered right to your inbox.
Whether you’re a beginner hoping to build your portfolio or an experienced designer wanting to mix things up, it will give you the chance to work on a diverse range of ideas.
You can use the #DailyLogoChallenge hashtag on social media to interact with other designers and show off your creations.
Other Design Challenges:
36 Days of Type – This popular annual event challenges people to create their own take on the letters of the alphabet and the digits 0 through 9.
Canva Design Challenges – Canva has a weekly prompt and hands out prizes for the best designs.
Have you ever wondered if you have a book in you? NaNoWriMo takes place every November and challenges participants to write a book of at least 50,000 words in 30 days.
Not sure you want to commit to the full 50k? You can set your own target instead or take part in Camp NaNoWriMo, a more relaxed challenge that takes place every April and July. And while it’s traditionally about writing a novel, you can choose to write in any format you like.
The official NaNoWriMo website offers plenty of help and inspiration in the form of tools, resources, in-person and virtual events, and a lively global community.
Other Writing Challenges:
NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) – A challenge to write a poem every day in April.
Story a Day – Write a story (as long or short as you like) every day in May. Also sometimes runs in September.
Photography: The 365 project
Sharpen your photography skills with this challenge to take a photo every day of the year. The aim is to create a photo journal, full of small moments from your life.
The 365 project website gives you the tools you need to create your journal and the chance to interact with other members of the community on the discussion boards. There are also weekly themes if you need some inspiration.
30-Day Photography Project – From Expert Photography, this challenge is ideal for beginners as each prompt comes with advice to help you master the basics.
52 Frames – A weekly photography contest that encourages community members to engage with everyone else’s work.
Inktober challenges people to spend October creating ink drawings. You can choose to draw every day or pick a schedule that works for you – the important part is sticking to it.
You can draw based on your own ideas or follow the official prompts provided. You can also use digital inking techniques rather than pen and paper.
Sharing is an important part of Inktober and you can share your work online with the #inktober hashtag to connect with other creators.
Other Drawing Challenges:
Kick 52 – A weekly sketching challenge. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can try the daily challenge of Kick 365 instead.
Monthly Challenges from Doodlewash – Regular watercolor painting and drawing prompts that you can adapt to suit you.
UX/UI Design: Daily UI
Daily UI gives you a daily prompt every weekday for 100 days to help you flex your design muscles and play around with possibilities.
Over 275,000 designers have participated in the challenge so far, including staff at Disney and Netflix. In addition to the regular prompts, the challenge also provides bursts of inspiration and even surprise rewards in the form of free resources.
You can get involved with the community and gather peer feedback by using the #DailyUI hashtag on socials.
— ეдνіე (@ajayidavid5) May 18, 2023
Other UX Challenges:
Uplabs Design Challenges – Uplabs regularly offers design challenges and invites everyone to get involved by voting for their favorite entries.
UX Challenge – This website presents realistic problems for you to practice solving with your UX skills.
Video: 1 Second Everyday Challenge
This challenge invites you to document your year with 365 videos, each a second long.
This not only gives you the chance to make a striking record of your year, but it also gets you thinking about the possibilities of short-form videography and of video editing. You could challenge yourself to include as many different subjects as possible or pick an overall theme to tie it all together.
The official app, 1SE, provides simple tools to help you curate and edit your videos.
Other Video Challenges:
Adobe Premier Pro Challenges – On Behance, Adobe releases regular creative challenges for its various tools, including video editor Premier Pro, via the portfolio website Behance. You can join in with the community on Discord.
The 48-Hour Film Challenge – An in-person event that challenges you to write, shoot and edit a short film in a weekend.
Creative challenges can be a powerful source of motivation, inspiration, and support. Whether you’re starting out in a creative discipline or are an established creator or artist looking for some variety, they can help you discover new tools, techniques, and communities.
Whichever challenge you pick and however you engage with it, good luck and have fun!