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Jury Duty

Over the last couple of weeks I have slowly panned the 2007 edition of Print’s Regional Design Annual — one of the heftiest magazine annuals around. Unlike other years, browsing this annual was a pleasure: The images were big, the captions were easy to match with the numbers, and the 1,026 entries felt integrated in a way that no other Regional had before, in their typically headache-inducing collection of postage-sized thumbnails and finger-bending, hand-cramping weight. (I still browse it every year, no matter). But it was through this newfound clarity and accessibility — enabling me to spend more time looking at and considering the winning entries and passing judgment of my own — that a long brewing set of concerns about this collection in particular and a larger question about design judging in general bubbled to the top of my to-poke list.

The Print Regional Design Annual is judged in a span of three months. First, they receive tens of thousands of entries every year — 22,000-plus this year alone — that are screened and filtered by Print’s editors and art directors in two rounds, whittling down the selections until further scrutiny seems necessary. This is when the work is divided into regions: Far West, Southwest, Midwest, South, East, and (the most awesome and smallest region ever) New York, and when regional jurors step in to make the final selections in a day-long process along with Print’s art director, Kristina DiMatteo, in this year’s case. But unlike other annuals, the jurors are not designers. They are editors and writers. This year’s roster includes Colin Berry, a writer and contributing editor at Print; Cathy Fishel, the editor of LogoLounge.com and contributing editor at Print; Jeremy Lehrer, a freelance writer and contributing editor at Print; Edward Lovett, a writer; Angela Starita, a writer; and Angela Voulangas, a writer and the only juror with “designer” in her bio. When I look at an annual, the first thing I read is the jury list — not to big-name-check, but to get a sense of who has made these selections, as the inherent personal biases, preferences and inclinations (good or bad) of each judge define the selections, so that then I can establish my own personal biases, preferences and inclinations (good or bad) towards each judge and their selections as a whole. And what my personal biases, preferences and inclinations force me to ask is, can and/or should writers and editors judge design annuals?

This is in no way belittling the credentials, knowledge or design sensibilities of any of the above, as all of them have written lucidly about design in general and design projects in particular and have demonstrated an understanding of the intricacies of our profession. But I can’t help but question if their lack in design practice is a detriment to the selection process. I emphasize that I question, not decree. As I was going through the annual, many selections seemed less than interesting or downright questionable, and I instantly wondered if these selections would have made the cut had designers had the final word? Of course, out of 1,026 selections, not all can be brilliant and the sheer volume of the annual renders more of the bad, as well as the good. So my concern about this annual in particular segues into the traditions of design judging in general…

Usually, it’s designers we all know, whose work is well covered and widely respected, that end up judging design annuals. This is the way it is, for better or worse. Some might disagree with me, but I do think it’s for better. When a group of designers that have done successful work over a period of time — and by successful, I mean work that is interesting and engaging, both in its execution and communication, that is done under the scrutiny and rigor of a client- or self-driven process — come together and agree that a design project is worth considering as successful, I feel it constitutes a valid vetting process. And I think this is where the in-the-trenches experience of designers accounts for a more appropriate judgment lens than that of editors and writers. The flip side to this could be a vicious case of the pot calling the kettle black, where designers form an incestuous cycle of sameness, reacting to the same design cues over and over again, creating a snowballing set of expectations for what kind of material should be considered good, culminating in irrelevant compendiums. This is where a slightly more detached eye, an outsider, who isn’t so much concerned about the appropriate kerning of Mrs. Eaves or how well two spot colors have been trapped, but is placing more emphasis on the message and tone of voice of a design project might be beneficial. Maybe.

My personal inclinations favor the designer-judged annuals, but as I read the introductions to each region, penned by the assigned juror, I found that I was more interested in what they were able to extract, as writers and editors, from the winning entries and the selected designers than the selections themselves. I could have read all those paragraphs by themselves and get a feel for what each region was experiencing and doing without seeing the actual work — and this is something that designers can’t do, or at least can’t do well enough, when contributing to a design annual. Clearly there is room for both approaches and maybe it’s time for a fully integrated annual put together, piece by piece, by designers in collaboration with writers and editors. But, for now, I still have one or two regions left to go in Print’s Regional Design Annual.

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ARCHIVE ID 4068 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Nov.07.2007 BY Armin
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Chad K’s comment is:

"The flip side to this could be a vicious case of the pot calling the kettle black, where designers form an incestuous cycle of sameness, reacting to the same design cues over and over again, creating a snowballing set of expectations for what kind of material should be considered good, culminating in irrelevant compendiums."

Interesting point of view. When are the standards set by the innovative — After they are emulated enough times? And when do the these new standards or trends become stale — With new innovations or the tiredness of the old trends?

On Nov.07.2007 at 12:08 PM
Peter Whitley’s comment is:

Interesting position.

PRINT is a magazine for designers, whereas design is generally NOT for designers. It's an interesting conundrum; should PRINT reflect great design according to designers or should it reflect great design according to its intended audience? (Arguably, this jury did not seem like the intended audience...but whatever, the question stands.)

Like many graphic professionals I despise "art competitions." I feel that it cheapens the dialog and is a shallow artifice for what it is that I/we do. It's as if to say, "I'm going to out-design you!"

However, the reason you would actually want an editorial jury like this is because competition removes the design's original context. Nobody (hopefully) designs a coffeeshop logo thinking "this is the solution that will play well in the PRINT annual." You need an enlightened jury to consider the original intent and not any singular merit. I believe most seasoned graphics professionals would also bring this skill but prioritize perhaps other aspects of the entries, namely the placement of the entry in the context of the larger current design landscape.

On Nov.07.2007 at 01:03 PM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

Wouldn't it be interesting to have the judges consist of "focus" groups? I mean for each region, get some marketing firms to call in the folks off the street and have them judge.

Or how about an online judging forum in tandem with the focus groups? We could get the reaction from our "audience" (think consumers) and then see what the "designeratti" think is the best stuff.

Could be a "layperson" vs. "insider" kind of thing. Oh the horror! Ha!

Always find it interesting when my brother, friend, mailman points out what they think is a "really cool" design.

After all, it's not about us -- right?

VR/

On Nov.07.2007 at 02:35 PM
Neil Brown’s comment is:

In regard to Peter W's comment ... Nobody (hopefully) designs a coffeeshop logo thinking "this is the solution that will play well in the PRINT annual."

Oh, but they do ... some shops have dedicated time to design for contest/annual entry. Pitches that never get picked up by the client enter into these contest/annual(s).

On Nov.07.2007 at 02:46 PM
darrel’s comment is:

Print should sell magazines and advertising. So, they will do whatever sells more magazines to their target audience. Can't knock that, really.

That said, of all the design annuals, (and, IMHO) I think ID does the best job in terms of treating design holistically rather than just 'that looks nice'.

What I'd like to see is an brief description by the creator, and then a mire in-depth analysis as to why the design succeeded in the market place and what they used to measure the success. granted, that = more words and less pictures and, of course, we designers really just want to see pictures.

And to follow up on Neil Brown's comment, I can only imagine that's absolutely true. Some of the clients you see in the annuals are rather...well 'contrived' to say the least. ;o)

On Nov.07.2007 at 03:06 PM
Jim’s comment is:

The design selected for inclusion in the annual reminds me of art that is chosen for inclusion in exhibits. I have seen exhibits selected by artists--they tend to be one sided, in favor of a particular style or subject. I don't know that I've ever seen an exhibit selected by a writer or a layperson (and kind of hard to imagine) but what I tend to see, and usually like, are exhibits selected by curators.

I would tend to think that an annual selected (or curated) by a design curator might be best. This would be a person who not only knows the activity of design, but would also be profoundly aware of what is happening in the design world, someone who would know what's great, what's trendy, and what's the next thing. But that's all pretty hypothetical—how many design curators are there and where are they? i'm sure there are some at the Cooper-Hewitt, but where else?

On Nov.07.2007 at 05:35 PM
Jon Dascola’s comment is:

This seems to be a reoccuring theme here at Speak Up.

Essentially, this conversation comes back to what is good design, and who has the authority to label it as such? What is the delicate balance between form and function? Is something still "good" if it is not designed well? Isn't the purpose of design to communicate and create some sort of experience for the user? Once that happens is the "trapping of two spot colors" really important?

I don't have that level of apathy that those previous statements may imply, but I would imagine the "general public" would. I wish I had the ability to turn on and off the switch that allows me to see things as a designer. I forget how things looked before I learned how to see. Maybe that ignorance would help answer these questions. Nevertheless....

I am slightly embarassed to admit that when I look through and annual (or museum) I spend too much time looking at the designer/artist rather than the selected work. I like to see what my favorite firms have done first, then I go back and look at the rest. My guilty pleasure I presume.

On Nov.07.2007 at 06:03 PM
Yael’s comment is:

I got the annual and thought it was pretty good. The content was diverse and interesting.

Of course, with so much design in there, I did notice certain threads of sameness among some of the designs.

It's always been that way - a great conceptual trend enters the design arena and it remains for some time. For example, I noticed a lot of decorative ornamentation (still!) on several of the design entries from packaging to stationery.

Nothing's wrong with ornamentation, but when something good is seen again and again it's really not a unique design solution.

I'm thinking when I see that 'look' again, "here we go again, more scrolls and flourishes and colorful floral patterns."

On the flip side, good design isn't necessarily never-been-done-yet-cutting-edge-design. Some boundary breaking work can be awful and jarring.

Some design trends become wildly popular because they are aesthetically appealing to a wide swath of the consumer population. Still, it can get boring eventually and really 'date' a package, ad or brochure (now, how do you say, "that's so '00's" - it's not like saying, "that's so '80's.")

When I see the evidence of a particular design trend in design annuals, I wonder about the judges. I never paid much attention to the judges in Print's case - thanks for point it out, Armin.

I think it DOES make a difference whose judging. Again, most of the stuff in the annual was great, but a lot of it was predictable.


On Nov.07.2007 at 08:32 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Not to completely disregard some of what has been said, but this discussion shouldn't focus so much on whether design annuals are valid or not, or whether they are simply meant as moneymakers or not. And I still think that design firms creating work JUST for annuals is urban myth, but we can save that for another topic or for a design tabloid (Design Firm in New York Fakes Client Work -- Wins Award!!!).

> I would tend to think that an annual selected (or curated) by a design curator might be best.

That's probably an interesting proposition. But as you point out, in the limited availability of "graphic design curators" you would end up with the same three or five people putting things together. However, I do think that a group of judges (designers or editors) can act as curators under the right circumstances. I judged the STEP 100 annual last year, where you have to select 100 pieces between 5 designers. Towards the end of the judging we had some really interesting (and heated) discussions about what these 100 pieces should be and to make sure they represent what is happening in graphic design today, AND that they reflect our own personal tastes and considerations of what makes good design. On the other hand, I judged the TDC annual and that was the complete opposite, it was just a popular vote; whatever got the most votes got it, without discussion between the judges. I enjoyed STEP a lot, and a big part of it was the editor, Tom Biederbeck, really encouraged this interaction.

> Is something still "good" if it is not designed well? Isn't the purpose of design to communicate and create some sort of experience for the user? Once that happens is the "trapping of two spot colors" really important?

Jon, I like to believe that, yes, once something is able to communicate, how well two colors trap is important. Specifically if we are talking about the context of a design annual, as these are some of the specific traits that we need to celebrate, encoruage and elevate. And it's not just about two colors trapping of course, it's about the appropriateness of every single design decision: from color, to typography, to size, to production techniques, to the way images are cropped, to the language, to pacing, etc., etc.. Design annuals are meant to showcase the best work -- and in design that means the work that communicates the best and looks the best in unison. And I think designers have a better eye for the design details than editors or writers, AND also because we are accustomed to justifying those decisions we are pretty well equipped to judge how those decisions help a piece communicate better. So I don't think designers just judge looks, it's inherent that we are judging what the piece communicates.

On Nov.08.2007 at 09:08 AM
Peter Whitley’s comment is:

Neil, to your point about unchosen design options finding their way into annuals is well taken. I've certainly had my share of "favorites" that weren't selected that I felt should live on in some fashion...but I don't submit work anymore and so these thumbnails and mockups are pinned to my wall and sitting in boxes that my kids sometimes ask about.

Here are two situations where the "validity" of the work may play much differently between two different audiences (where one is of creative peers and the other is the market).

I do a lot of work with skatepark advocacy. As such, our organization awards annual skatepark awards. We considered having those skatepark awards be juried by the average skateboarder with no in-depth awareness of the constraints or project goals. Another option was to have those nominees juried by skatepark designers and builders. Our solution was to have them juried by experienced skateboarders who are all intimately familiar with the skatepark design and construction process. This is the compromise we found.

PRINT's jury appears to take the same approach.

The other environment that might have similarities is that my "mild-mannered" work is as an art director for an in-house department to a large paper-based gaming company. (We do Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, and other games of that ilk). As far as graphic design and illustration goes, the fantasy genre doesn't get much respect. It's often for good reason, but I also believe there are preconceptions that one cannot design something both anachronistic AND contemporary. (This is entirely possible, of course, in that the context is simply other products available in this niche market...you don't need to be creamier than everything, only creamier than the products around you.)

For an annual like Spectrum, who is qualified to jury? Spectrum has decided to use art directors and artists which I think may not be the best solution. Granted, those ADs and illustrators have diverse tastes and varying levels of experience but in the end they are working categorically and under the structure of predefined conditions. This would not necessarily be as evident if the jury were more diverse.

On Nov.08.2007 at 11:13 AM
Pesky’s comment is:

As someone who worked on Print's 2007 Regional Design Annual I am probably too prejudiced to make a comment. But let me add my two cents, if you please.


All judges have a selective eye. And if some work, some trends repeat, well, it was a process of sifting thru thousands of entries looking for something that stands out. Not everyone agrees with every choice and that's not the point of annuals, especially so-called regional annuals. What seems to be the beef here is qualifications for being a judge.

Designers are an incestuous bunch. To say there is a problem of getting any famous name designers who wouldn't pick work by their equally famous buddies is like asking Bill Clinton who he's gonna vote for president.

They may deny that they have a partiality to the work based on anything but sound design discernment, but it comes down to the personal. Design for designers is so much different that design for civilians isn't it?

On Nov.08.2007 at 06:45 PM
Tselentis’s comment is:

At least with the Oscars, they have a group of professionals making judgment calls. I know these design awards aren't the Oscars, but hey... look what they stand for!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a professional honorary organization of over 6,000 motion picture professionals, was founded to advance the arts and sciences of motion pictures; foster cooperation among creative leaders for cultural, educational and technological progress; recognize outstanding achievements; cooperate on technical research and improvement of methods and equipment; provide a common forum and meeting ground for various branches and crafts; represent the viewpoint of actual creators of the motion picture; and foster educational activities between the professional community and the public-at-large.

On Nov.08.2007 at 08:48 PM
Pesky’s comment is:

Sounds great, Jason. Let's switch.

On Nov.09.2007 at 06:52 AM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

A curated approach has been used: One year the ACD 100 had selections by each juror so that some selections were the choice of one juror, some the choice of two jurors, etc.

many selections seemed less than interesting or downright questionable

But not those of contributors to Speak Up discussions, of course.

On Nov.09.2007 at 08:55 AM
Sean Flanagan’s comment is:

Personally, I take the position that it is refreshing to see a set of judges outside the "love fest" panels that often show up as judges for whatever contest/annual is being judged this week. It gets tiresome seeing the usual suspects judging or serving on panels and giving awards to another set of usual suspects (or the most avant-garde work). It gives people who are not a part of that group the feeling that they can't win because of who (or where) they are, not because of their work. It's a shitty feeling, especially when sub-par work is chosen because it has a name associated with it.

When there is a panel full of people who have no vested interest in who is submitting work, it becomes a much more fair contest. Sure, writers might not pick the same pieces that designers would pick, but they're impartial at least.

On Nov.09.2007 at 10:24 AM
Pesky’s comment is:

Love ya, Gunnar...big fat wet kiss on your mouth...LOL (you ugly bastard)

On Nov.09.2007 at 10:59 AM
Joe Moran’s comment is:

Awards given to us by our fellow industry professionals are more satisfying than getting a hearty handshake from your Barber, Trashman or Mailman. Agreed.

But be really honest -- can anyone remember one/two winners from last year's Print competition? CA? Any of them? Two years ago? Three?

And I'll go ahead and ask the BIG question: Do the judges look at the names on the submission forms? Or is it anonymous throughout?

VR/

On Nov.09.2007 at 12:11 PM
Tom M.’s comment is:

Joe, sadly, I actually can remember winners from the last few years because (at least in the Midwest region, which I'm most familiar with) you have your core group that wins each and every year. It's almost expected by now. I think their inclusion is equal parts good design work, name recognition & clout, and always submitting multiple pieces year after year (you can't win if you don't submit).

Too bad there couldn't be some kind of "nomination" process or something, instead of the submission process. It would be much cooler to have Print call you out of the blue and say "your x piece was nominated by so and so", instead of the very intentional act of submitting work in hopes of "winning". Logistically impossible, but anyway...

On Nov.10.2007 at 10:14 PM
Jim’s comment is:

Like Tom, I also typically remember the folks from my region from year to year, because there are typically a core group who are always included. (I'm in the southeast)

As to the nomination idea, in the gallery world that's the other sort of group show (group shows are either "juried" from submissions or they are an "invitational" based on nominations or artists who the jurors have seen in other galleries). Which, I suppose, is how a designer gets included in any other issue of Print. So maybe the juried process is a good way for the unknowns to get noticed.

On Nov.11.2007 at 11:23 AM
Tom M.’s comment is:

Good point, Jim. "Nomination" probably is how a lot of work gets into the non-annuals. Didn't think of that. Though I suppose a lot of unknowns remain unknown because they don't submit.

That being said, and being someone who has never appeared in Print, I wonder what's more gratifying, having a feature or blurb in Print or making it into the annual?

On Nov.11.2007 at 03:44 PM
Brad Gutting’s comment is:

The annuals always have a lot of good work in them and it's a joy to peruse them year after year after year, and see how many things change, and how many things stay the same.

I had a revelation earlier this year when some work I did wound up in Communication Arts; I was surprised and happy about it, but the work NEVER made it into my portfolio and it never will. I remember all too well a conversation in which I learned how getting published often requires a lot of schmoozing and self-promoting and whatever else. Shit that I'm only somewhat interested in. I guess that's how the judging process works though. Oh well. I can't complain about the stuff going, but it's far from the best work I've done. Really far, actually.

In the end, I'm not sure how much difference it makes if it's "name" designers judging, or non-designers. Whatever leads to more rigorous projects showing up, as opposed to gig posters and CD covers peppering the pages is good by me.

If anything, why not have a "People's Choice" annual? That'd be good, flighty fun. Never mind the cheapening impact it might have to the profession as a whole...

On Nov.13.2007 at 11:47 AM
davidge1’s comment is:

Armin, I don't agree with you. Critics should always be detached from what they're critiquing. Music critics and theatre critics arent musicians and actors; they focus all of their energy on judging the work of others.

I've never liked the idea of designers judging other designers. The qualities that make for a good designer don't necessarily make for a good critique of design. Designers, by necessity, form an approach to designing that includes sizing up everything they see: "How well does this piece work according to MY approach to design?" This is so ingrained in designers that it's not likely most of them could get past it. Massimo Vignelli and Stephan Sagmeister, for example, would likely have vastly different standards for judging the work of others.

If design criticism wants to be taken seriously, it needs to go in the direction of increasing impartiality.

On Nov.13.2007 at 12:36 PM
Christina W’s comment is:

Designers, by necessity, form an approach to designing that includes sizing up everything they see: "How well does this piece work according to MY approach to design?" This is so ingrained in designers that it's not likely most of them could get past it.

One of our projects in university was to pick a selection of 25 or 30 pieces of design each, look at the themes running through those pieces, and do a presentation. We then had to swap cd's with someone else in the class and create a package design for that other person.

It really highlights how darn difficult it is to step out of your own boundaries. Even if you have some very diverse pieces of work in your top 25, when they're all together, there's a theme there. So I can well imagine that design contest judges (of any profession) will, at some point, have a theme running though work that they pick.

On Nov.15.2007 at 02:27 PM
Jia L’s comment is:

"Critics should always be detached from what they're critiquing. Music critics and theatre critics arent musicians and actors; they focus all of their energy on judging the work of others."

I agree with Davidge1's point of view. A most qualified judge is not determined by whether he or she is a professional designer nor a layman. Everyone has those "personal biases, preferences, and inclinations", and especially for the designers, if not more.

"But I can’t help but question if their lack in design practice is a detriment to the selection process."

The purpose of the graphic design business,I think , is to serve the society, and the quality of a designer's work should be judged not only by the professional, but most importantly, by the people at large.

On Nov.18.2007 at 11:59 PM
Martin Somberg’s comment is:

I find that the work featured in any annual or competition is worth looking at, regardless of the judges, as long as the judges are identified. Its all such an arbitrary subjective crap-shoot anyway. Designers are bound to have their own brand of biases, as well as editors or anybody else. These biases are based on background, experience, and just plain gut response.

Overall, I find it just as illuminating to see an award-winning piece of design that doesn't work for me as one that does. It helps me examine my design sensibilities and values and develop a more well-rounded design aesthetic.

On Nov.21.2007 at 01:48 PM
John Foster’s comment is:

Hey Armin - I have judged and been involved with planning these types of shows as well as being a "curator" in assembling collections to be published as books about design so I may have a little insight. There really isn't a right or wrong here but each collection has to be judged on it's visual merits and we all know which publications have left us scratching our heads at times. One magazine actually culls entries and mails a section to a judge's studio (no matter whether it is an appropriate selection for their expertise) and then picks up whatever number they determine to be worthy. They list mulitple judges, but in reality none of them have seen the same work as the others and a possibility exists that one judge may have elected to put nothing in the magazine. Baffling.

Of course, you can see that process in the actual layout of work they publish. Other annuals can be hampered by the size of the image they show or lack of credits or information (I love to read a little with my pretty pictures) and often they feel obligated to show only the cover of a piece that really got in on the entire design and a spread or other set-up might have offered a better representation. They all try as hard as they can though god bless 'em.

Most importantly, a show is only as good as the entries. Judging the HOW International I was struck by the number of entries by certain firms but more so by the absence of others. Certainly some of my favorite designers practicing today will not be included for that reason. It is also worth noting that we had a jury that practices in commercial applications for the most part and was VERY inclined to reward a masterful execution in that realm but it just wasn't available to vote for. So when you see what we chose as best of show (a to the mazing) don't think that it was because we were instantly drawn to self-indulgent design.

I would also add that I think judges are often harder on pieces they may have seen or work by those they know. The excitement and newness of discovery is gone and you find yourself analyzing the font choice for the footnote in an annual report to decide if they still have the "goods" to get in. This is where a panel of designers is important. Nothing is more embarrassing than seeing a piece in an annual that you have held in your hands and known that some portion of it was not up to "professional" standards. Judging happens quickly in most cases and the uninformed can miss type that is horrific if it sits next to an amazing illustration or photograph. Designers miss this at times as well but far less often.

Specifically to Print, you can have your cake and eat it too if you involve designers in the selection and then turn the writers loose on the winners. This is rumor only, but my understanding was that a single vision dominated these proceedings for quite some time. Print is actually the only publication where for a decade I could tell you which pieces I sent in would be accepted (they all had illustrations whether logos or posters.) The past two years I can honestly say that I have no idea what will make it. I do love that at least one piece will be something that has been skipped over for the local shows.

For those that have not been involved with a judging (help your local art director's club or aiga if you get a chance) it can be fascinating. A few basics do apply. The process needs to happen in a condensed allowance of time. This means that work that speaks clearly (and quickly) will have the best chance. Usually there is a quarter of the winners that are so undeniably good that they would be in any show no matter who was performing the selections. After that it is a desperate battle between work that everyone thinks is "good." The difference between the first piece in this group and the last one left off is slim and this is where it gets fun.

Different judges on any given day will swing this group roughly 20-40 percent based on personal preferences and even their mood that day. If you think certain shows or mags look the same it is because they recycle judges and there is no swing in their group. AIGA shows are terrible at this with more of an insider group of the same folks. Most of the publications seemed to have heeded criticism of the same issues and switched it up a little more. The point is, if you didn't get in it could have just been one person giving you a two instead of a three after they scratched their brow for five minutes. Just another minute and they might have rounded up and sent you on your way.

Maddening isn't it?

The only cure is to be in that amazing 25 percent that blow your socks off period. Good luck. I am still trying.

On Nov.21.2007 at 02:09 PM
X. Zhang’s comment is:

Who should be on the jury for the Annual? Who should be on the jury for a design contest or any designer’s work? Or even, do designers’ projects need to be judged?

All these questions could boil down to the question: who is design for? The jury should be composed of representatives from the target audience. In most of the cases, it is probably of mixed professions. But if designers design sheerly for the sake of design, only they themselves should be on the jury. In a more extreme case, if a design work is created only to meet its designer’s own need, no judgment is necessary from anyone but the designer.

On Nov.25.2007 at 09:22 PM
Pesky’s comment is:

Pesky non sequitor of the day:

I was standing in line at Fresh Market buying Serrano peppers and the check out girl starts talking to me about how she loves Helvetica and Comic Sans. (I swear to God.) In my early Sunday brain fog, I asked her how she figured I was a designer. "Your T shirt says Emigre.", she said. Oh that: I forgot it was the only clean shirt I found. She knew of Emigre and had gone to design school before working as a check out cashier in a food store.
So I said, "Helvetica is the official typeface of Hell." And we laughed.

It wasn't that I was looking down at her. Just the opposite. Design is no secret club. Now that I think of it, when people become aware of the agendum of Design they're less easily fooled by slickness. Good for her.

On Nov.25.2007 at 11:48 PM
jenn stucker’s comment is:

I don't see a problem with non-designers judging design work as long as they have an established understanding and knowledge of the design field. It works for the Miss America and Miss USA pageants right? Look at the diversity of their judges and how well their judges do at judging. Hmm... maybe Armin IS on to something.

Perhaps instead of nominating work as previously suggested, nominate judges instead. PRINT readers rather than PRINT itself could be suggesting who is worthy enough to validate the work.

On Nov.25.2007 at 11:54 PM
Andrew Maniotes’s comment is:

I can see both sides of this issue...and I think this recent blog will cause me to scan the judges and credentials more carefully in the future. I would like to see at least SOME practicing designers on such a prestigious panel.

I was horribly disappointed with the annual this year. I remember seeing it at a bookstore, almost buying it, but looking at the work and saying "why...why...why????" to so many pieces.

I don't think all the blame lies in the judges. There were WAY too many entries and as a result...a lot of mediocre work. Why would print need to fill that many pages if the selection wasn't that good to begin with? Some of the entries seemed to be "clever" ad work...but did that really qualify as the "best" in print design out there?

Anyone remember the ACD 100 Show? That was seen as a more selective show to get in...as they only took up to a maximum of 100 entries. No "clever" ads, or "fun" graphics on the side of trucks...it was top design and felt like you earned it. Like any competition, we can debate subjective tastes on what gets in...but with a cap on 100, it made a lot less argument. I seem to recall when I saw a 100 show as a student in the 1990s...each judge had written WHY they voted for it or against it next to each piece and this was presented in the catalog. The final year of the 100 show, in which Alan Hori was the main juror, there were only 53 pieces accepted.

I think Print and it's judges need to be as selective. Who cares if you can't fill up the giant catalog...show good work, and present one in half if you have to. Or show BIGGER pictures of the work in the same amount of pages.

And for a more contemporary example...the ADC Young Guns show has far less work showcased.

And who knows, maybe some of the blame lies in all of us designers for not submitting more or better work ourselves. I was disappointed on a local level (I teach design in Michigan) that MI is referred to as part of "rest of the Midwest." We need to represent more.

And...all these ideas and rants expressed here might deserve LETTERS and suggestions to Print on how to improve.

Then again, Print, like any other venture, has to make a profit to stay afloat. The sad reality is...ACD and the 100 show folded in 2001 and did not even print the catalog of the final show, and only exhibited the final show in a few locations comapred to previous years. Print, despite the rollercoaster economy, HAS managed to stay afloat. I'm glad to see the Young Guns competition is still doing well and selling books.

On Nov.26.2007 at 12:56 AM
Mr.Print’s comment is:

My only criticism of the Print Regional Annual is that they printed it on the crappiest paper I ever held in my hand. We have two copies here at the office and both look like they were dunked in the toilet before mailing. The paper ripples badly.

On Nov.27.2007 at 08:01 AM
tadzia_z’s comment is:

I think PRINT should spend more time searching for designers who are making art that has a direct voice with strong conception and intent. Designers are leaders. Even if they do not feel a sense of power it might be over shadowed with flimsy and or spineless art work. Nevertheless, the judges whoever they are should be able to view the work for its creative intent and purpose.

On Nov.27.2007 at 07:14 PM
linda cooper bowen’s comment is:

I have not read all of the comments here, so forgive me if this thought has already come up in discussion...

I once participated in a jury and observed that the first thing judges did was look to see which designer or firm did the piece. And I know this affected their choices.
I always wondered, considering that design is not done for designers but for clients, why no clients are ever part of the judging team? Well I was told a number of reasons; first - that the jurors would hit on the client/judge for business, second - what does this client guy really know about Design? Of course this is the guy who buys it! Wouldn't it make sense to see what his criteria is? Couldn't both "creatives" and client sides learn a lot in the process? Aren't juries too inbred and very precious?

On Dec.02.2007 at 03:35 PM
linda cooper bowen’s comment is:

I have not read all of the comments here, so forgive me if this thought has already come up in discussion...

I once participated in a jury and observed that the first thing judges did was look to see which designer or firm did the piece. And I know this affected their choices.
I always wondered, considering that design is not done for designers but for clients, why no clients are ever part of the judging team? Well I was told a number of reasons; first - that the jurors would hit on the client/judge for business, second - what does this client guy really know about Design? Of course this is the guy who buys it! Wouldn't it make sense to see what his criteria is? Couldn't both "creatives" and client sides learn a lot in the process? Aren't juries too inbred and very precious?

On Dec.02.2007 at 03:35 PM