With the inaugural FPO Awards—what you are browsing here is its sequel—we learned that, going forward, this was going to be a smaller scale competition. We originally expected over 500 entries for it and received only 287. An amazing 287 entries. But a small amount that made it very stressful to not see entries pouring in. So for this second edition, covering work produced during 2011 and the first half of 2012, we readjusted our expectations: lower quantities but damn good ones. Which is exactly what we told our judges when we invited them: the show is small but it's one of the most fun, as we have a diligent yet relaxed pace that allows them to actually see and inspect the pieces rather than just hurrying to get through everything.
"While the show was a bit smaller than I expected," shares judge Ben Levitz, one of our printer judges, "there were absolute design and production gems." A sentiment echoed by the other printer in the judging mix, Jeff Hernandez, who was "extremely impressed by the number of high-end and difficult pieces submitted." It may sound like a consolation prize we are giving ourselves for lack of volume, yet the quality in design and production we saw across the 278 entries we received for this edition was outstanding once again. And extremely validating
"Many of the pieces had me wishing I had done them myself," admitted judge Mig Reyes. "Any time you get that kind of envy, you know the turnout for the show was quite good." And perhaps there was no better evidence through envy than the Best of Show winner—an annual report for Adris Group designed by firm Bruketa&Zinic OM and printed by Cerovski Print Boutique—that everyone wanted to hold, touch, and see. Finished like a typical hardcover book, its addictive ingredient was a sheet of metal embedded in the cover that made the book weigh a hundred times more than usual. See this video for a candid camera-style video of people trying to pick it up. The print production was not only surprising but perfectly executed and the layout and typography were sublime, making it the perfect example of the kind of synergy we look for in the winners of the FPO Awards.
As impressive as that annual report was, it took an extreme die-cut to stir the judges enough to hand out the Radical Production Award to a book for fashion designer Dion Lee, designed by Ultra and printed by Adams Print, that was so hard to pull off that the die exploded when pressure was applied in the first run. Pushing the boundaries and using print production methods and finishing techniques as a design and experience element was more evident this year in the entries. "I don't typically employ many printing or production tricks into my own work," shares judge Robynne Raye, "so it was fun and inspiring to see how far people pushed it." And judge Louis Fili, who demanded some serious typographic exploits to impress her on the design aspect reflects that "it was an interesting mix, especially of printing techniques, which stand out in my mind more than the designs themselves."
From a business card in the shape of a television remote control to a wedding invitation so laser-cut it almost disappears to a beer label that changes when it goes from cold to warm, the winners of the 2011 – 12 FPO Awards presented in this book and a paid-access website demonstrate that not only print is not dead but that the clichéd saying is, itself, dead. For those—clients, self-starters, and self-promoters alike—willing to spend the money, time, and energy in great print production, they are rewarded with projects that come alive for others to enjoy and experience.
Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to all who entered.
Bryony Gomez-Palacio + Armin Vit