There were 55 more print companies entered compared to last year, and the quality was excellent.
Judges say that printing companies are starting to appreciate that they can’t send "any old work" in and hope to get awards. They are more aware now than ever of what they have to do to get awards.
"The benchmark is going up every year," says judge Laurie Lark. "People are realising that jobs are being looked at by experts.
Innovation was ever-present. Judges were presented with a woman’s chiffon dress featuring a paua shell pattern, printed digitally using an inkjet-type system. The result was of a high quality and provided an alternative to the traditional screen printing method.
Photos of paua shells were edited in Photoshop, retaining the original texture of the shells, including scratches. The images were then direct printed onto the chiffon fabric and steam-fixed.
Judges say that this method provides a higher quality than screen and is more economical for short-run work.
In the flexibles category, judge Frank Brokken says that registration was particularly strong this year, whereas it was a weakness in 2003, and that the laydown of whites, especially on foils, was greatly improved this year.
He says that the judges had made comments about these issues last year and entrants had taken these comments on board: "There was a definite focus on colour," Brokken says.