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A graphic design enterprise that runs a network of blogs, publishes books, organizes live events, and designs for clients. Run by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit in Austin, TX.
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UnderConsideration, LLC: Bryony Gomez-Palacio, Armin Vit
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The FPO Awards entry period — April through June — is like an extended version of Christmas for design nerds with the arrival of package after package that we unwrap and unpack, each revealing a joyous bit of print goodness inside. Sadly, we received around 50 packages less this year than the previous year with submissions topping at 211, down from 275 in 2012–13. Nonetheless, as it goes with the FPO Awards, the submitted projects were fantastic.
Marc English — who graciously stepped in when fellow Austin, TX-based judge Christian Helms was unable to attend and who also stepped in in 2010–11 the night before judging when Stefan Bucher's travel got derailed — confirms this, as the only person to have judged this competition twice: "I've been a juror for exhibits since 1993, and can honestly say I've seen a LOT of crap over the years — locally, regionally, nationally. Yet I am always impressed at the quality and breadth of work that comes in from well beyond U.S. borders, and it's always a visually stimulating and engaging treat to be part of the process."
New FPO Awards judge but equally an industry veteran, Jim Sherraden, shares Marc's enthusiasm and feeling that they can still be surprised: "As an old dog in this line of work my collection of ephemera is, well, let's just say it's extensive, but some of the projects submitted made me wish I had a larger suitcase and sticky fingers."
Those sticky fingers might have come in handy for Jim in order to strip the eventual Best of Show winner — Wright's "20th Century Carpets" catalog — from Gael Towey's hands, who found it "refreshing to see work that was as beautifully printed as it was designed and the integration and intelligent combination of the two disciplines is what made the winners stand out." Which is exactly what this catalog did and had everyone asking to touch it and flip through it one more time before the end of the day.
For Stephen Doyle, whose biting sense of humor kept the day lively and entertaining, "It was a delight to see the entries spread out on the tables, each proudly printed or stamped, letterpress or die cut, reveling in the tangibility of it all. The excellent work stood out boldly from the generally good-looking pack, as it always does."
Interestingly, more than other years, the work that stood out were not the usual posters or business cards or tricked-out self-promos but good, old-fashioned books and magazines and brochures. "I felt the publication work was incredibly strong this year. Great design coupled with smart production," noted John Earles who also commented on being "surprised at the overall quality and breadth of entries in the offset category especially compared to what I would consider more 'boutique' techniques such as letterpress or foil."
As it relates to the above two categories, letterpress has consistently been one of the top two, along with offset while silkscreen had, until now been, the third strongest category. This year, however, foil stamping took that third printing process spot away with this being the first year that we received more foil stamp entries than silkscreen. 22 over 15 to be precise. It's not much but it's interesting in that foil stamp is a much more expensive process than silkscreen and limited by its dimension — not that that stopped the best of category winner. The poster series by Kevin Cantrell for Neenah Paper came in at a whopping 16 by 20 inches of foil stamp goodness and even though he did have to split the printing into two plates it took all of us a while to figure out where the break was.
Unlike other years, we faced more resistance in our Salvage selections — entries not selected by the judges but chosen for inclusion by the signatories of this introduction — which made for lively and engaging discussions, leaving us with only four selections, including the only thermography piece (page 123) to have ever been selected for inclusion in the FPO Awards since 2010. So that was fun.
Everything about this competition is fun, to be honest. Seeing the work. Feeling the work. Interacting with the work. It's all fun.
Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to all who entered,
Bryony Gomez-Palacio + Armin Vit