First FISAE CGD International Ex-libris Competition

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The first international competition for computer-generated ex-libris took place in 2004 and was a resounding success. The report of the President of the Jury follows below and detailed comparative results can be found on the site of the Ankara Exlibris Society, at www.aed.org.tr, with a list of artists who took part.

First FISAE competition for computer-generated bookplates, 2004
Report of the President of the Jury


At the 29th FISAE Congress in Frederikshavn in 2002, it was decided to organise a competition for digitally designed and printed bookplates. During the same FISAE delegates’ meeting, a new list of symbols for graphic techniques used in ex-libris was adopted, in which ‘CGD’ – computer generated designs – was used to differentiate such plates from ‘CRD’, or computer reproduced designs. The aim of the competition was to stimulate artists to use that relatively new graphic tool, the computer, to make bookplates which are not just a scan-and-print of a drawing or image made by the artist (or composites of pilfered images), but works where the specific qualities of the digital tool are used to their best. The proposal was accepted, and the prize-winning works and honorary mentions were shown at the XXX Congress at Wels in July this year.

An outstanding jury of experts was brought together, with no less than five professors of graphic arts (Françesc Orenes, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Barcelona; Hasip Pektas, Faculty of Arts, Hacettepe University Ankara; Rastko Ciric, Faculty of Applied Arts, University of Arts of Belgrade; Martin Baeyens, Academy of Arts, University of Ghent; Henry Klein, School of graphic arts, Los Angeles), one museum director (Tony Oost, City Museum of St. Niklaas, Belgium) and a team of bookplate collectors and experts (Olli Ylonen, Finland; Luc van den Briele, Belgium; Professor W. E. Butler, London). The jury met in Wels on the occasion of the recent FISAE congress.

The first prize was given by a generous Belgian in memory of his younger brother, Jean-Pierre De Smet, who was a colleague of Martin Baeyens at the Royal Art Academy at Ghent. He taught computer graphics and died very young from a brain tumour. The second prize was given by Edmond Avakian, a well-known Geneva jeweller. The two ex-aequo third prizes were given by the Finnish Bookplate Society and by the St. Niklaas Museum. A jury special prize was foreseen for the best mixed technique in which the computer played a central design role, and the FINALE foundation in Lausanne gave a special prize for the best plate on an erotic theme.

For a first such event, the competition was very successful… 347 artists from 34 countries submitted a total of 1169 ex-libris for the competition. The quality of the material received was in general high, with very few pseudo-ex-libris or homage plates. My impression is that very few amateurs tried their hand at making bookplates, and a glance at biographies shows a large number of art students, and a high number of professionals. One hundred participants were Turkish, which is once again proof of Professor Hasip Pektas’ outstanding work of dissemination of information about ex-libris in his country. About 70% of the participants were under 40 … but the oldest was 76!

The work of the jury was far from easy, especially as the criteria for the competition were still somewhat individual and flexible. Of course, one looks for which are the best bookplates, and it is as marks of ownership which can be pasted into books that they are judged. But with computer graphics (to use the generic name), I think one’s choices are conditioned by the technique, just as when you encounter a choice of wood-engravings in a competition and first look at which is the best ex-libris, you also ask yourself which is the best wood-engraving. Over the last two decades, software programs for treatment of images have progressed enormously, especially the Adobe range (Photoshop, Illustrator, In-design, etc.) but also others such as CorelDraw, etc. The use of layering allows the artist to ‘melt’ together, with different opacities, elements which he captures elsewhere and elements which he creates himself. There is no excuse for ‘bad’ typography or anything less than brilliant layout; colour control, despite some difficulties which still exist with monitor calibration, should be perfect. The printing processes for digital images have also progressed greatly. Thus the image presented, as in a painting or any kind of print, should be coherent, free of useless effects and should make sense – i.e. be oriented and adjusted to attain the objective which the artist has set him- or herself.

The prize winners were as follows:
First Prize (The Jean-Pierre De Smet Prize): Debora Lauwers (1982) Belgium
Second Prize: Natalia Lamanova (1964) Russia
Special Prize of Finnish Ex-libris Society: Kim Brusten (1981) Belgium
Special Prize of Town of Sint-Niklaas: Mine Saraç: (1971) Turkey
Special Prize for Mixed Technique in which CGD is essential: Onnik Karanfilian (1963) Bulgaria
Finale Foundation Prize, Lausanne: Best Erotic Ex-libris: Ozan Ayitkan (1980) Turkey
Honourable Mentions:
Dries Ameel (1981) Belgium
Müjde H. Ayan (1972) Turkey
Lütfiye Aydogdu (1977) Turkey
Erdal Aygenç (1959) Turkey
Evgenij Bortnikov (1952) Russia
Ilknur Dedeoglu (1974) Turkey
Anke De Scheemaecher (1981) Belgium
Ali Dogan (1969) Turkey
Goedele Goegebuer (1979) Belgium
Kate Leavitt (1953) U.S.A.
Daan Linsen (1980) Belgium
Tongbin Liu (1972) China
Nele Marcel (1982) Belgium
Javier Mazzeo (1968) Argentina
Havasi Tamas (1972) Hungary
Elif Varol Ergen (1977) Turkey
Mikhail Verkholantsev (1937) Russia
Katinka Wuytack (1982) Belgium

One can only hope that the exhibition resulting from the competition (which has already opened in St. Niklaas, even before the jury met!) will travel widely. It is planned for Barcelona and Ankara later this year. The range of material it contains proves that there is no reason to think that superb ex-libris cannot be produced using digital technology.

As president of the Jury, I would like to thank the sponsors and supporters who made this event possible.

Benoît Junod




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