To call the Annual Catalog Awards judges opinionated is to describe Mount Everest as “kinda big.” So it’s no surprise that the panelists have strong but conflicting opinions about several aspects of the December 1998 edition of EyeWire Studios, a catalog selling type packages and photo and illustration images for graphic designers. But when it comes to the front cover, the judges are unanimous: They love it.
“Amazing,” the panelists enthuse about the cover image, a “happy face” icon entitled “You” being squeezed by a vise labeled “The Client” and a screw dubbed “The Deadline.” Best of all, a final label, “Your Solution,” is accompanied by an arrow inviting the reader to open the catalog. “Carry-over to the inside is smooth, complete – excellent,” one judge says.
The opening spread works hard to live up to the promise of the cover. Half of a page highlights new packages; the spread also features a table of contents, references to a sweepstakes and typeface discounts, and copy promoting the EyeWire Website, which includes “many thousands of images not shown in this catalog.” While one judge approves of the prominent mention of the Website – “graphic artists have embraced technology as the delivery method for this sort of product, so the premier positioning of the site works perfectly” – another feels that “if there is more product, why not show it in the catalog?” Which leads a third panelist to question EyeWire’s strategy of mailing a new catalog each month: “Who needs it? If I’m on the list I received a catalog last month, and if there’s anything new, I’ll look for it online.”
As far as design is concerned, because EyeWire targets visual artists, it opts to “keep the focus on the products and let the images sell themselves,” notes a judge. For each disk offered, the catalog includes at least four sample images, which are enhanced by what the judges agree is “a clean and engaging overall design.”
And while the text is minimal, it’s hardly sparse. The copy for the “Endless Skies” disk, for instance, notes that “clouds are constantly changing, just like your design needs. An impressive selection of patterns and formations in daytime and night, calming or eerie.” As one judge says, “Considering the number of packages offered, each copy block is engaging and unique.” But the same judge has a beef with the type size: “It’s just too small – unless everyone EyeWire sells to is under 40.”
Another panelist is disappointed with the customer service: The 800-number isn’t displayed prominently throughout the book, and Federal Express is the only shipping option. Other judges, though, praise the detailed information about ordering methods and the 30-day return policy.
Despite disagreements about some of EyeWire’s service policies, breadth of selection, and mailing strategy, the panelists do concur that this catalog knows its audience. As one judge puts it, “Everything about the book implies a direct connection to the target market.”