Enter Alf Carrigan who, when he retired as managing director of graphic arts supplier, CPI Graphics in 2001 had no idea he would soon be the team leader for and evangelist of Australia’s reinvigorated National Print Awards.
From his brief retirement, Carrigan, age 62, was appointed to breathe new life into Australia’s National Print Awards just two years ago and has been taking every opportunity he can find to promote and sell the event ever since.
Over lunch with Carrigan and PacPrint 05 chairman, Ron Patterson, I got the feeling I would soon be asked to dig deep in my pocket for more than the meal.
Longtime friends, Carrigan and Patterson came together in a commonsense linkage of the gala dinner for the 22nd National Print Awards with the staging next May of PacPrint 05 in Melbourne.
Carrigan’s search for a time and a place to host the event that would see a focus of attention on print and the graphic arts coincided with Patterson’s desire to see a classy, high profile event staged during PacPrint 05 which takes place from May 24 through 28 next year.
PacPrint dinners had been done before, but they were losing their lustre. So, it seems, both men will get what they want next year during PacPrint 05, when the printing industry’s leaders, already in town for Australia’s greatest show in print, come together to give recognition to the nation’s greatest achievements in the art and science of print.
Much has been made in recent months of the need to recognise Australia’s own print achievers and, says Carrigan, our own new-look National Print Awards will do just that with style on May 25 next year at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, just a short walk from the PacPrint 05 venue - the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre.
When asked if the competition had become something of a merry-go-round with the same companies lining up each year to get their awards, Carrigan is adamant that there is substantial value for new companies entering the awards for the first time.
“The fact that successful companies keep coming back shows that they recognise the value of Australia’s premier awards for achievement in print,” he says.
Not only is there very visible recognition of all of the award winners at the event and after it in the press, but, says Carrigan, the ability to display the awards and use them in marketing material is of very real promotional value to any printing business on the look-out for new work.
Says Carrigan, the special effort required to make the grade and win Australia’s own Print Awards has the inevitable effect of raising the bar of quality in many printing companies and that is of great value to the whole industry.
“That commitment to quality in print production lingers long after the awards have been received and toasts have been made”, says Carrigan.
The objective of the National Print Awards is “to raise the standard and to promote the achievements in excellence of Australian printing”. Whilst the event has had its detractors who have questioned what they see as an obsession about raising quality in an increasingly mechanised and digital printing landscape, Carrigan believes that such a quest is essential.
In every other field of human endeavour, from sport to medicine, “good enough is not enough” believes Carrigan. And so it is with print. He urges all printing companies, especially those who have not entered before to step forward and consider entering their best work in the 22nd National Print Awards.
The wide range of categories available - 31 in all - means there’s almost “something for everybody” and entry conditions are as liberal as possible to encourage more entries. There is no restriction on the type of stock used or the method of printing. And whilst imported stock, artwork or photographs from overseas sources are acceptable, reproduction film, printing and finishing, must be carried out in Australia.
In order to encourage outstanding achievement, the Awards are structured so that more than one award may be made in any category if deserved. On the other hand, if entries are below achievable standard, awards may not be made in a particular category and one gets the feeling that the experienced Awards management and judges would have no hesitation in holding back awards and giving the industry a ‘bit of a serve’ if quality is lacking among the entries.
Carrigan believes that one of the strengths of the National Print Awards structure is that it acknowledges the importance of every step in the print production process, with gold, silver and bronze Awards made to the printing company, client, designer, prepress company, for the paper stock and of course, the entrant.
National Print Awards entries must have been printed between January 1 and December 31 2004 and they must be completed and presented for judging by January 31 2005.
Whilst on the lookout for new blood in the competition, Carrigan is also searching for sponsors. With many of Australia’s best-known printing equipment and consumables suppliers behind the National Print Awards, he says the event needs more support. “For a modest investment, sponsors get valuable publicity before, during and after the event, including an advertisement in the prestigious National Print Awards book. And they are seen to be supporting the industry that gives them their living,” Carrigan says.
Meanwhile, PacPrint 05 sees real value in working with the National Print Awards so that two of the biggest events on Australia’s printing industry calendar coincide. at least every four years.
With a heavy responsibility on his shoulders and those of the other PacPrint 05 board members, Patterson and his team are keen to provide more attractions for those considering a visit to Melbourne for Australia’s greatest show in print.
“Booth sales have been gratifying and there are only a few left”, says Patterson. “In combination with events such as the National Print Awards, PacPrint 05 has every reason for printers to plan early for their visit to Melbourne next May.
“A highlight will be the exhibition of National Print Awards finalists in the concourse of the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre for the duration of PacPrint 05”.
Whilst the pace of change in printing technology may have slowed a little and revolutionary developments are rare these days, Patterson believes that there are many more good reasons for printers to attend PacPrint.05 “Where else, within a few steps of each other, is it possible to see all of the major and many of the smaller graphic arts suppliers, all under one roof at one time?”
PacPrint 05, says Patterson, will make it possible for visitors to compare and contrast a range of vendor offerings and to re-visit suppliers in order to clarify important questions or issues.
Patterson and Carrigan are both unashamedley pro-Melbourne, the host city for PacPrint 05 and the 22nd National Print Awards, and its easy to see why. A visit to the city whilst it is the unquestioned ‘capital’ of Australia’s graphic arts industry next May could and should be planned to coincide with some time out exploring Melbourne or beyond its boundaries. Victoria has much to offer, especially from May 24 to 28 next year.