NIU President Lisa C. Freeman invites all students to participate in the 2021 holiday card contest.

Take advantage of the opportunity to be one of three artists who have their work featured on the official NIU president’s electronic holiday card. President Freeman will select artwork to showcase the incredible talent that NIU students possess. Submit your original artwork for a chance to be chosen for this honor. View previous year winners.


This year’s holiday card competition theme is “Celebrating a Community of Belonging”. NIU and the City of DeKalb have partnered to create a community of belonging. This is a community where everyone is valued, recognized, and empowered. The NIU holiday card should make us feel welcome, connected, and embraced – regardless of our differences. We look forward to seeing your creativity!

In past years the competition has been impressive. A few things to keep in mind when creating your design:

  • Card submissions will be judged based on the theme of “celebrating a community of belonging”.
  • This is a holiday card. It should be joyful, seasonal and resemble cards you would find at your local retail establishment.
  • This is from NIU. Recipients should be able to make a connection with the university immediately upon viewing the card.
  • To support our mission to foster an inclusive community we encourage entries that reflect the diverse holiday traditions celebrated by our students, faculty and staff.
  • Manipulation of the university logo is discouraged.

All 2D media is accepted (digital, photography, illustration, print, painting, drawing).


  • First Place – $500
  • Second Place – $300
  • Third Place – $100

Submission Specifications

  • All art must be submitted as a pdf or jpeg file and include a .25” bleed.
  • Art must fit with a ratio that works with a 5″ x 7″ format.
  • When scanning art, keep in mind that you can send a low-resolution file. However, if your design is chosen, you will need to have a scanned file at 300dpi.
  • Required: Submissions must be accompanied by a signed license agreement (PDF).

A tip for your design—remember to consider the print process and print size…close tones and thin lines do not always reproduce well for the final product.


The entry deadline is Dec. 5, 2021, and winners will be notified mid December.


  • First Place – $500
  • Second Place – $300
  • Third Place – $100

Entry Submission Form