Golden Age Club
And the winners of the 17th annual Gold Ink Awards are …
For some, this time of year means deep autumn colors as the leaves lose their summer green. Or hot dogs and beer as the football season kicks off. For those in the print industry, however, it's all about 'gold'—the annual Gold Ink Awards—and paging through this issue of PrintMedia to admire the winners.
This year's competition, however, was particularly challenging, as so many quality entries awaited critique from the esteemed judges from several states and a variety of print production backgrounds. Plus, judges had to pour over 1,574 submissions in 46 categories, debating the merits and sweating over each nuance of every piece before bestowing a gold, silver or bronze designation on a winner. It was tiring work that sparked enough spirited discussion to keep our judges busy for four days.
"Our job was not an easy one. Some categories proved most difficult due to the sheer number of entries, others because almost every entry was worthy of an award," says Gretchen Morris, catalog manager for Edmund Industrial Optics in Barrington, N.J.
Some of the factors that the judges were compelled to consider included how difficult the project was from a production standpoint, the quality of the materials that were used, and how well the materials were manufactured and integrated.
But difficulty didn't necessarily mean complexity, nor did it automatically translate to quality.
"An entry needn't be complicated or clever to be a winner. Sometimes the simpler, the better," observes Morris.
Another judge noted that many entries pushed technology to the limits in often surprising ways. "The two things that stand out are, first, the amazing prevalence of new imaging technology on press, high-definition stochastic imaging in particular," says Christopher Farrell, associate creative director at Rodale Press in Emmaus, Pa. "On some very high-end pieces it was impossible to imagine that any technical improvement might still exist, [and it seemed] that we might actually be at the very limits of what can be accomplished with ink on paper.
"Second is the very impressive results some of these technologies delivered on some of the more cost-driven communications, relative to more traditional technology."
As judging proceeded through that first week of June, the Gold Ink Awards committee decided that breaking up some categories into smaller groups this year and adding more categories to the 2005 Gold Ink Awards competition would broaden the scope of the awards and increase the chances of winning for some entrants.
For example, the book jacket category grew out of a discussion among the judges that a book cover and a book jacket are made up of different elements. The fierce competition in all the categories was a testament to the number of flawlessly printed materials entered into the contest.
"On many levels it was difficult to find characteristics to separate one [entry] from another," says Lisa Woodard, director of creative services at Lenox Collections, a direct marketer of fine collectibles and gifts in. "The exceptional printing, binding, varnishing and overall presentations made for some hard choices."
"Trying to judge the Gold Ink Awards is far more difficult than one can imagine," says Harris Fogel, chairman of the media arts department at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. "Often, many of [the entries] are extraordinarily varied within the same category, which at times feels like judging apples and oranges."
A separate category for letterhead/stationery, which grew out of the potpourri category, was also created during judging. The judges determined letterhead/stationery couldn't compete fairly in the category. New categories for next year include greeting cards, synthetic papers and envelopes, as each provides particular challenges on press.
Though many stunning pieces were submitted, the judges managed to award only one gold winner in each category. Awarding one silver and one bronze in some categories wasn't as easy, and in those, multiple silver and bronze designations were given. As in past years, Gold Ink judging rules allowed the judges to bestow pewter awards in each category on those submissions deemed worthy of an honorable mention.
Other winners of note were "DC Shoes Winter 2004 Catalog" and "DOSA 2003," the winners in B-to-B catalog, sheetfed. Regarding "DC Shoes," said one judge, "It is so well done—excellent and precise use of spot varnish." "DOSA 2003," the silver winner, was exceptional as well; it demonstrated "perfect production/manufacturing decisions for the aesthetic direction," said another judge. And, the paper choice was "totally appropriate."
The participation of print-industry professionals is what makes the Gold Ink Awards successful, and the competition would not have grown over the past 17 years without their support. On behalf of all of us at PrintMedia magazine, I'd like to thank all those who entered and our judges, who gave up their time and brought their enthusiasm to judge the entries fairly and honorably.
- Warren Chiara