Louie, Louie – The 28th Annual Louie Awards

LOUIE_LOUIE_PARSE_PARCELSo many greeting cards, so little time.

Last week I joined some industry peeps in NYC to judge the entries for the 28th Annual Louie Awards. The Louie Awards are the Oscars for the national greeting card association. And they’re kind of a BIG deal.

My fellow judges and I had just two short days to judge over 300 entries and narrow the field in 50+ categories. While it was a bit overwhelming at first, it didn’t take long to realize finding the category standouts was actually pretty easy – and I have to admit I was kind of shocked, and a little disappointed by this fact.

You would think that every submission would be solid, especially considering the entry fee. Not so much. Honestly, there were only a handful of stellar entries among a sea of mediocre and sub-par submissions. Shocking, right?

At first I thought it was just me, maybe I was being too critical? Over dinner I heard my same thoughts echoes by my fellow judges. The thing is, it wasn’t the design of the cards that was so bad – it was the execution.

Sound familiar? Well, it’s true. I said it before and I’ll say it again – attention to detail makes all the difference when it comes to print, and greeting cards are no exception.

There were so many entries that featured really beautiful design – gorgeous artwork, thoughtful typography and well written copy, but the end result fell flat because there was zero thought put into the production value.

And let me be clear, this was not due to a lack of budget.

It doesn’t take much to elevate good design into award winning work, just a bit of thought and planning. Print is tactile, and with greeting cards this is especially true – so make your paper choice count. Rather than opting for the printer house stock and flooding it with a solid color (btw on some digital equipment results looks and feel hideously waxy), why not select a colored paper stock with a tactile finish to it?

That one small decision would have a ton of difference in the majority of mediocre entries I saw.

All of this sounds simple I know, but I was equally amazed by the number of poorly, over-produced entries. I was reminded of a printer friend’s favorite saying, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

This year’s winners will be be honored at a gala during the National Stationery Show this May. If you’re going to NSS you’ll get to see the award winning work and can judge the results for yourself. I will be there along with some of my fellow judges where we’ll be sharing our tips to help transform your card designs from average to awesome.

Want to see a behind the scenes look at the judging for the Louie’s? Follow us on Instagram, we share snaps of all the good stuff there.

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