Thursday, 12:00am
10 September 2009

Just add stock

Library images can be a rich resource for powerful and creative design, celebrated in Eye’s new award scheme.

When we launched the Just Add Stock awards a few months ago, it was a risk, a big step in the dark. For a start, many of our friends and contributors won’t have anything to do with awards, citing bad experiences with juries, entry restrictions and lack of time and / or money to enter. We dealt with this subject in Jason Grant’s article ‘Awards madness’ in Eye 69. However the same issue included a piece (‘Mad about awards’) by Alissa Walker that examined the upside of awards, including their benefits to young designers and their role in the general ecology of design culture. It remains true that many designers – whether emerging or mid-career – can get a significant break, or a pat on the back, through winning an award.

And though some of our friends suggested that we should devise a ‘new writers’ scheme or a music design award (all excellent ideas), we thought it would be interesting (and straightforwardly do-able at this early stage in our new company) to turn our attention to the Cinderella of the graphic design world: work made with stock, or library images.

We know that many of our readers use stock and we’re certainly glad of the commercial support we’ve had from image libraries over the years. However things are changing fast. New technological developments in the way designers seek out images have transformed the industry, and the pressures of shrinking budgets and tight schedules have led to a renewed prominence for libraries within graphic design. We had a hunch that there would be some good, original work out there that used stock, and that was true, with terrific entries in a wide range of sectors.

The Just Add Stock jury looked for all the obvious things: ideas and concepts; originality and ingenuity in their use of stock; and also the overall success of the work within its field and audience.

The jury members were: Aporva Baxi, creative director, DixonBaxi; Pam Bowman, designer and educator, Dust; Tom Hind, director of photography, Getty Images; and Deyan Sudjic, director, Design Museum, London. Our judges attacked the pile of entries with relish and made a great team, each contributing a distinctly different perspective on the work submitted.