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Should You Go with an Artistic or Literal Award Design?

Designing a custom award for your organization’s event is not nearly as straightforward as you may think. There are a lot of elements that have to be taken into account including time frame, type of material to be used, making sure the award fits with your organization’s image, and more. And one of the first things to take into consideration is the shape and style of your award—do you want something more artistic or are you looking for a literal design?


Sometimes the spirit of your organization’s award is hard, if not impossible, to capture in a structured form. For instance, what does “leadership” look like? How can you embody “success” or “perseverance” or “generosity” in a custom award design? When trying to capture a particular feeling or characteristic in your award design sometimes a more artistic approach is necessary. For example, if you want to honor or celebrate an “up and coming group” our Moon Shadow award uses curving planes to signify an upward movement and reaching great heights. This kind of artistic design might be perfect for a recognition award that celebrates and honors those who go above and beyond. When designing a more artistic award it’s important to think about what and who you are trying to celebrate with your final award. The best shapes may not be the most obvious and abstract can be beautiful when it has meaning behind it!

Keep in mind that no two artistic designs are the same and your final idea will influence what kind of metal you can use to cast your award. Your custom design might have a more fluid shape with no hard edges, in which case pewter might be the better choice. Designs with sharp lines and defined edges may be better created from bronze.


For some organizations, a literal design for their corporate or recognition award is best simply because it’s easy to tie the idea behind the award to an existing and identifiable shape. For example, an award shaped like a boat makes perfect sense for a sailing award. Sports awards in general tend to lend themselves to more literal designs; golf players, footballs, and even horses for equestrian awards are just obvious choices.

But a literal award design can still sometimes even be used to embody an intangible characteristic. For instance, a musical note indicates harmony and is a great design for an organization looking to recognize a team effort. Or a star-shaped award is perfect for recognizing an organization’s “superstar.”

At the end of the day the best design style, be it artistic or literal, is the one that best represents your organization, the spirit of your award, and the recipient. The beauty of a custom award is that it can look and feel however you want! Just because there is an obvious, literal shape to use for your organization/award you are still entitled to come up with a more artistic and free-form design. Similarly, there are plenty of existing awards designs out there so your “intangible” attribute might not be as hard to capture as you think.