Thursday, July 23, 2009

try harder

This has made the rounds quite a bit, but since people keep weighing in I thought I would post the link:

The AIGA 50 books / 50 covers competition. The most prestigious competition for book covers in my opinion has been taking some heat over the last month with the announcement of only 41 covers that made the cut. A lot of back and forth between designers and even AIGA weighing in, but in my opinion AIGA is really just trying to tell all of us:

try harder.

A little upsetting considering all of us try beyond 100%--not that that should make every design an award winner. I think my site is testament to the fact that much work & thought goes into a cover and sometimes once the designs are put through the ringer, you're lucky to get something you're proud of at the end. I would like to think AIGA is clued into what is happening in book publishing these days with the economy and the threat of e-books. Let's be honest, publishers, editors and sales are nervous and thus not taking as many chances on design...which makes it an even bigger feat when a great cover is published. Apparently they aren't aware that an organization dedicated to design, with the power to enhance the importance of book design, has just rendered themselves clueless. I think we all know, based on the work we see on other blogs, websites, and in stores, that there had to have been another 9 covers to make it a true "50." Most people weighing in have won the award in the past, so I don't think it's a matter of sore losers. Our field is relatively small and I like to think very supportive, so I see the comments over on design:related as positive for our field.

**I just want to note that unfortunately what's been lost in the discussion is the fact that 41 great covers were recognized by AIGA this year. I'm guilty of forgetting to mention it myself. Congratulations to all the designers who did's a great selection and worth a visit to the AIGA site to check them out:


amy king said...

here here! well put!

K. Glyder said...

thanks Amy!

Jenny Carrow said...

It's so absurd that the AIGA only picked 41 covers. It would be an entirely different thing if the contest were just called "books/covers" but since they attach that number to it, they should really make it a point to meet that number. This whole thing has made the AIGA seem both incredibly arrogant and really bad at elementary math!

Ian Shimkoviak said...

At this point I myself am over the whole discussion and feel that anything corporate in it's general structure and ideology is always gonna fall short in representing everyone equally. It may have been that the 41 selected were indeed the best out of the submissions and that everything else was just sort of eh...

Many good designers out there do not even submit for fear of costs/fees and then in the end having to pay to get their little trophy.

I think that in general the criterion for selection should also include the nature of the beast: Covers should be chosen on their commercial success and not simply for the "coolness" of their design. In fact it is often a lot harder to strike a balance between marketability and good design. I am sure this is considered, but if not, it should.

I remember seeing last years selection in SF and being amazed at how many books were chosen that I would never consider buying, but they looked cool. Lots of elaborate die cuts and uncut pages and holographic materials etc. But is this really the success of book design? If you have tons of money thrown at a book because some rich guy has a vision—well, that is great, but it's not what book design is really about.

9 more covers should have been a walk in the park to choose—but in the end who knows who and what submitted. Maybe the selection was indeed poor and difficult to choose without compromising the prestige of the competition and making it look like they had to meet their 50 quota. But in that case the AIGA should have approached 9 designers and asked if their work can be featured to complete the selection.

Anne C. Kerns said...

I agree that the judges should have picked 50. And it is the JUDGES who are responsible, not necessarily AIGA. Although, there are always representatives from the sponsoring organization at any competition judging, and the AIGA folks should have insisted on their picking 50. It's like a top 10 list with only 8 items. Ridiculous.

It happens at the local chapter level, too. Somebody with power needs to find the balls to tell the judges to set aside their egos and find the next best "x" amount to bring it up to what was advertised. It should be part of the spiel they give the judges when they are asked to participate. Who ever heard of the judges making the rules anyway?