Biely Shoaf Presents Louise Mulgrew

The Noted@*Noted Awards Are On!

Yes, the day is here — the 2023 edition of the über-competitive greeting card design competition is open for business. It is an enormous honor for me to help oversee this for the fourth year running for the Greeting Card Association, but this is only the second year we are able to announce and celebrate the 10 winners live and in person.

That of course will happen at *Noted: The Greeting Card Expo on April 27-28 at San Francisco’s exquisite Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. The expo is co-located with SF NOW, so those exhibitors are welcome to enter as well.

The Louie Awards are widely regarded as the Academy Awards of the greeting card industry, with this year’s crop of winners picked from cards released after January 1, 2022. But the Noted@*Noted Awards celebrate cards released as of January 1, 2023 — AKA last week — so they truly reflect the freshest work under the industry sun, with winners indicating which way the trend winds are currently blowing.

Meanwhile, I hear from one of my colleagues that this year’s Louie entries topped 1,000; let’s get these entries up to break last year’s record (145 entries) as well! With spaces at *Noted and SF NOW filling up, that should be a snap. So with that said, let’s get down to brass tacks.

First and foremost, the competition is only open to exhibitors of *Noted/SF NOW, and one entry in Noted@*Noted is included with your exhibit space fee. There is a max of five entries per company. Each maker can only submit one entry to each category. All submissions must have had their first retail sale in 2023 and be available for wholesale purchase now. And, submissions must not have been entered in the Louie Awards. Eligible GCA members pay $25 per entry; if you are not a GCA member, that jumps to $30.

Based on judge and *Noted Committee feedback, we have slightly modified the categories:

Freshest Vibe (e.g., Freshest new voice, vibe, look, standout maker). A brand new year calls for brand new cards — submit your favorite standout release here. Be it snarky, sweet or somewhere in between, we are seeking one very special design of distinction that is poised to capture hearts and sales with its original approach.

Best New Product Line. Show us your new collections for 2023! We are seeking standout illustration and copy, as well as cohesion across the range. Please submit 3-6 images to provide breadth.

Best Color Combo. Nothing instantly sets a mood like color, and we’re seeking the most alluring examples. Don’t forget to include envelopes here, that is part of the palette.

Most Fantastic Floral. Submit your most spectacular bloom here.

Best Pattern. If it’s plaid, polka dots or a motif purely of your making, we want to see it here!

Most Marvelous Creature. Dogs, cats, llamas, frogs, lobsters … this lucky animal will be uncaged as the unofficial mascot of *Noted ‘23!

Wisest (e.g., Best witticism, most profound, Best hard truth, Best Message, Most Motivating). The medium is the message here. Send us your smartest designs, with every element speaking to its larger meaning.

Punniest. This wordy trend has taken the industry by storm — submit your most visually clever designs here.

Funniest. Getting a laugh through a card requires a certain finesse, but executing that well makes many a sender look brilliant. Send your side-splitting releases here.

Snarkiest. A bit of well-placed sarcasm can do wonders for the soul. Send us your most cynical entries here, with or without profanity.

As someone who has judged more industry competitions than I can count (the Louies, 40 Under 40 Awards, G&DA’s Retailer Excellence Awards) as well as previous editions of these awards, I am very particular about “my” judges here. They have to have an eye not just for what will sell in their domain to their customers, but what is going to resonate most in our constantly evolving market.

As such, I’m so grateful these four will be joining me to survey this year’s crop of entries:

Dan Collier, Daniel Richards Showrooms (Atlanta & Dallas) as well as the retail venues Archer Paper Goods (five locations and counting) and The Merchant Atlanta at Krog Street Market.
Chandra Greer, GREER Chicago
Pei Sim, The Paper + Craft Pantry, Austin, Texas
Kate Strzok, Broadway Paper, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The judging process will function much like previous years. Submissions stay open through February 26. The first round of judging will occur online. If you are a finalist, you will hear from me March 7. I will request that you send me seven samples for round 2 of judging to take place starting March 16th. Please make sure to have these available. We will announce the winners at *Noted April 27, with details to come.

The GCA has moved to the Award Force platform for submitting entries, it’s a little different than years past but pretty streamlined once you get the hang of it. Here is the GCA’s own Kori taking you through the process:

If you are heading to Atlanta, I hope to see you at the GCA Mixer Thursday night. Don’t forget to pick up the postcard below with a handy QR code to start your entry.

Or, you can go here and get those entries started. And of course, give me a shout with any questions. Good luck everyone, I absolutely cannot wait to see all that 2023 newness!