Friday, January 14, 2011

Outstanding standing out

I have been thinking over the Summer break about the upcoming book design awards.

Over the years I have noticed the absence of many designers, and therefore many designs. Designs that immediately struck me as ‘outstanding’, as ‘award-winners’. Designs I wish I’d created myself. Missing at the awards are their designers, masters in their field, who continue to line our books shops with brilliant design after brilliant design, enriching our visual and cultural lives.

As a panel member, I have also noted that there are many less-than-‘outstanding’ designs entered; designs that come with an apology. Rows and rows of them piled high.

In recent years the APA has adjusted their processes and protocols. As of last year in particular, the design weight on the panel was increased substantially. Categories were adjusted to match the changing industry environment and the need for ‘outstanding’ reiterated profusely on the entry form. And there is still much more to do.

Whilst it’s not perfect and the merit of giving awards is highly debatable, the book design awards night is the only event in the calendar year that celebrates Australian book design. But maybe it’s not all about awards. It is a chance to meet, sometimes for the first time, the editors, publishers and production people you’ve been working with all year, a chance to collectively have a natter, to take stock, congratulate and appreciate.

On that note, for the last few years several of us have been kicking on after the awards. Last year, we stumbled around the streets of Surry Hills till we found a suitable establishment (if you can call The Clock suitable). Any recommendations from Sydney locals for a venue afterward and/or breakfast the next morning will be warmly received.

There is much to discuss.