Print’s night to shine

This year’s awards ceremony was a departure from previous years, taking place on a Friday night for the first time in an attempt to fit in more readily with the busy schedules of Australian printers, and featuring a revised category format, making for a much more streamlined award ceremony. From all accounts, the new format was deemed to be a success.

Upon inspection of the samples of the award winners that adorned the entrance to the Grand Ballroom, it was obvious to the gathering masses that the awards were not only going to showcase a high-quality display of Australian printing talent. It went without saying that every winner would be worthy and that many awards would be a closely fought affair, an observation that was to be proved as fact throughout the evening.

It was no secret that Printing Industries Association volunteers had worked tirelessly on transforming the Grand Ballroom, and as always, organisers did not disappoint with the lavish decorations and meals. The night was kicked off by a dazzling laser and interpretive dance display, which really underlined print’s journey into the 21st Century. It was an appropriate tribute to the work that was to be honoured that night, a blending of hard work and traditional printing sensibilities with imagination and technological wizardry.

No one was safe and nothing was sacred throughout the evening, with Australian comedian Vince Sorrenti verbally catapulting himself into the spotlight as one of the night’s two star master of ceremonies. Controversial to the core, Sorrenti kept the night up beat and moving freely, with the night’s 36 awards being presented in record time. Not to be outdone though, the favourite of the night was ever-vivacious Channel Ten news presenter Sandra Sully, who was clearly the centre of attention for the male population of the room.

Alf Carrigan, National Print Awards chairman opened the formal part of proceedings, and was complimentary to every printer that had submitted an entry.

“In this current print environment, it is important that we recognise our best and finest in an event like this. The judges report that the quality of entries are the best that they have been in the 21 years we have been presenting these awards,” says Carrigan.

“Congratulations to all the winners, but also to the entrants. There were very high numbers this year, and without you, there would be no competition.”

As far as gold awards go, Sydney’s Offset Alpine Printing was top of the class, taking home gongs for Commercial posters, showcards, card construction and mobiles; Web offset coated stock offline finish; and Web offset publications with a cover price categories, along with two silver and four bronze awards. Inprint also shone, receiving gold awards for the Annual reports and Stationery categories; as did Van Gastel Printing, taking out the Leaflets and folders, and Self-promotion categories. The printers at Hannanprint NSW also did themselves proud, picking up one gold, four silver and six bronze medals.

A fair indication of the quality of submissions from all concerned companies is that very few printers dominated the awards. In all, 28 printers received gold awards, with only three receiving multiple golds, and in two instances, the gold prize was shared. In all, 78 printers, packagers and binders walked away with an appropriately coloured medal.

Before moving onto the highly anticipated Sponsors Awards, Chris Segaert, Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA) national president, addressed the audience with a passionate, yet solemn call-to-arms to the assembled printers. The recently launched eTree initiative, a plan spearheaded by a number of high-profile Australian companies including Telstra and AMP that will see $300m worth of print per year from annual reports and other shareholder documentation shift from print to other electronic formats, garnered considerable mention. After informing the assembly of the threats it poses, Saegart has promised swift and decisive action against the initiative, which he brands as a cheap attempt by high-profile companies to cut costs through eliminating printing. He also outlined how National Print Month, to take place in October this year, will help combat such attacks against the industry by raising print’s profile in all sectors of Australian life. Sagaert’s speech, understandably, drew a hearty round of applause.

The first of the Sponsors Awards were then presented. First up was the Australian Paper Award for print excellence achieved by a third or fourth year printing machinist apprentice, which was awarded to Phillip Said, an apprentice at Pongrass Communications Group who was trained at the Sydney Institute.

The Melbourne operation of Penfold Buscombe then received the Heidelberg Award for Excellence in Craft for the production of an impressive limited edition A3 coffee table book entitled The National Story, for the National Golf Club based at Cape Schanck in Victoria. Alistair Hill, Penfold Buscombe managing director, accepted the award on the company’s behalf from Andy Vels Jensen, Heidelberg Australia managing director to add to the company’s gold award received earlier in the night.

Rounding off the award winners for the night was JS McMillan Printing Group, picking up the Agfa Gevaert Award for the most innovative use of imaging in printing. Julianne McMillan was presented the award by Garry Muratore, Agfa Australia marketing manager for graphic systems.

Twelve months certainly makes a difference in any industry. With the leaps and bounds in printing innovation and quality witnessed at the awards night, one can only look forward to what the 2005 National print Awards holds in store.

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