The new global competition for 2014, which open for entries this week, will culminate in a prize-giving ceremony on 22 May in Munich, the penultimate night of Fespa Digital 2014.
Fespa head of events Duncan MacOwan said the awards, previously open to only 37 member associations around the world, would now be open to "every printer on Earth". Last year the awards had more than 400 entries, next year it could be 1,000 plus, he reckoned.
“We wanted to open the event to every printer in the world so they can show off their talents and skills,” he said. “We also wanted to make it annual to give greater exposure to winners, short-listed and highly commended entries and give added momentum and relevance.”
Winners, highly commended and shortlisted entries will be shown at the Digital show at Munich next year and then at every Fespa event around the world until the next global show in 2015, taking in South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Eurasia and China, he said.
“We want to inspire printers in those regions to achieve excellence and to give added exposure to winners and other entrants. We will also offer feedback for every entrant from world-class judges, so even if you don't win, you'll get feedback, which you can take back and apply to your business.
“We have also changed the focus of the categories: they are more application led and technology agnostic. Historically we have singled out best screen or digital print, for example. But a lot of work combines technologies, so lines between them are blurring, hence the focus on application rather than technology, but not at the expense of it because it is still very important.”
Ten application categories include instore; outdoor; interior; functional decoration; garment; integrated; sustainable; special effect; fine art; and vehicle decoration. Independent judging panel includes end-users such as ad agencies, print buyers, printers and other experts.
Judges already confirmed are Sarah Sowers, innovation manager for NikeID; Folker Wrage, chief creative officer at McCann Erickson Istanbul; and Erwin Deproost, design operations manager for Philips BG Consumer Luminaires.
Judging criteria will be excellence in execution of print quality, technical expertise relevant to the application, appropriate use of techniques, design, media; creativity with regard to the application and the return on investment for the end user of the printed work.
In addition to the application category awards, two awards will be voted for online by Fespa's print community; the hall of fame printer of the year, which will be selected from nominations to Fespa's 2014 hall of fame, and the people’s choice award.
The final award is the president’s innovation award, which will be given to the entry all judges agree offers the most outstanding example of innovation across all categories.
MacOwan said: “By opening the awards beyond our immediate member community we hope to attract a broad global portfolio of entries with examples of innovative print across the whole gamut of wide-format applications. This is the only truly global awards scheme in wide-format print.
“By entering, printers have a unique opportunity to achieve worldwide recognition for their business and work and to showcase their skills to peers and print buyers. The exposure that comes with a Fespa award win could catapult a print business to new growth opportunities.”