The Pride In Print Awards celebrated its Pearl anniversary with a spectacular event at the Cordis Hotel. I have had the absolute privilege of attending every one of these events and the growth of the industry over that time has been nothing short of spectacular.

Milestones present an opportunity to look back and reflect on what was then and what is now.

Of the 16 categories in the 1993 awards, 13 of them described how the work was produced, for example colour sheetfed printing and three were products: specialty products, self-promotion, and annual reports. We received a staggering 989 entries. A team of only 10 judges had one day to achieve a result, emerging just prior to midnight with 16 gold medals and 42 highly commended awards.

In 2023, the score is 202 gold medals, 13 category awards and 9 process awards from 485 entries and not because the judges have become more generous.

In fact, over 30 years, the requirements to achieve a gold medal have become stricter. Instead, we have seen an exponential lift in the quality of the work produced and entrants are much more discerning with what and how many jobs they enter.

Spend a day at awards judging and you will see how difficult it is to get gold, with jobs declined for the tiniest of imperfections and those winning category and process awards needing to be nigh on perfect. Every year, the judges are impressed with clever new concepts, clever use of technology and clever use of substrates, all developed to create pieces of work that are simply stunning.

From those original 16 categories, we have moved to 14 overarching categories with 70 sub-categories, meaning every business that produces print can enter their work, no matter what it is.

Now more market facing, the categories focus on products our customers will understand such as magazines, newspapers, labels, packaging, signs, business print and art prints. Customers don’t care what type of oven you bake their cake in as long as it tastes great, looks great and fits their budget. Giving your customer a certificate that says you printed the “Best Label” has so much more meaning to them and is immensely more marketable for you.

In 1993, we put on a show with laser lights and smoke, the likes of which we had never seen before as every one of the winners came up on stage to receive their medals and certificates. The first half of the show was held in the theatre at the Aotea Centre and Jim Hopkins was the host. We then moved into the largest room at the Aotea Centre where we hosted almost 1000 people for dinner across two levels. It was a night to remember, and the industry was hooked.

In 2023, the industry was just as enthralled as Paul Ego and Jacqui Brown hosted the event in an upmarket dinner setting. Animations and LED lighting set the scene. Presenting the 202 Gold medals in groups allowed the presentation to take the same time it took to present just 58 Awards in 1993.

Of course, the reason we can produce this incredible work is the people. Without the skill, creativity, and continuous innovation of those that work in our industry, none of this would happen.

In 2000, the Apprentice of the Year Award moved to being announced on stage at the Pride In Print Awards. This huge step forward acknowledged the important role that training, and our apprentices play in the future of the industry. In 2020, the awards further expanded, developing a platform to recognise the businesses driving the future of the industry with a commitment to wellness, sustainability, and innovation.

In 1993, the supreme award went to McCollam Printers for a four colour offset sheetfed publication called DesignWorks Credentials.

In 2023, the Supreme Award went to Artrite Screen Printing for the reproduction of Te Henga Sunset, a 33 colour screen print.

Finally, I must give a special mention to the companies that have spanned the 30 years of the awards. Admark Visual Imaging is the only company that won gold in 1993 and again 30 years later in 2023, with 58 more in between; a special achievement. And to our Patrons and Sponsors who were there at the beginning and are still here today: Fujifilm, Spicers, B & F Papers, and BJ Ball – thank you for 30 years of support.

What hasn’t changed? The Pride In Print Awards continue to recognise excellence in craft and people and validate the world class work that is produced by our industry every day.

Happy 30th Birthday Pride In Print Awards.

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