The Greeting Card Association announced the 27th annual crop of LOUIE finalists last week — congratulations to them all! Before the gallery of the finalists is released, I wanted to review a few (well, more than a few actually) standouts from judging.

This design from Quilling Card takes a well-deserved seat as a finalist in the Thank You — above $4 category.

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Moglea is always amazing and always gorgeous, and even moreso in person. They are finalists in Baby — above $4 and Everyday Boxed Set — about $2.50.

IMG_4960IMG_4965I don’t know if any of these birthday cards became finalists — but they’re all winners to me!

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This rather small-scale design is from Easy, Tiger, who is a finalist in Friendship/Encouragement General — $4 and below, Romantic Occasions — $4 and below as well as Rising Star — $4 and below. Congratulations, that’s impressive!IMG_4990IMG_4991General snark was prevalent and always welcome.

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Invitations were also a part of the judging, and we reviewed many show-stoppers. I do not know who makes this boxed design, but it was exquisite in person.

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As a design icon, all-around noble creature and cherished family member, dogs were everywhere! The last one brilliantly uses blind embossing.

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Encouragement, friendship and love cards were by turns funny, poignant and sweet.IMG_4981IMG_5005IMG_5006IMG_5009IMG_5013IMG_5016IMG_5018IMG_5026

The introduction of LGBTQ categories brought so much compelling design to the table — although stationery customized to gay weddings was prevalent in the invitation categories as well. I love seeing how cultural shifts are conveyed through paper. The first design is from Gottalottaheart.

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If this seems a bit overwhelming, you can only imagine what it was like to review over 1,100 designs over the course of two days! There was so much dazzling letterpress, foil and embellishments combined with heartfelt sentiment — but cards are so much more than that. It is the designer’s difficult job to carefully pick and choose which elements to use or discard that really shape these communications. As such, they are the real stars to me. So, I salute you all for putting so much great design out there to shape people’s communications — and many, many thanks to the GCA for asking me to judge again!

I’m so excited to see all the finalists in one place on display at National Stationery Show. New this year is a GCA Member Pavilion, which offers GCA members the ability to exhibit their work on panels close to the show floor. I am sure it will get a lot of traffic. And most of all, I’m looking forward to attending the LOUIE gala May 17 to find out the winners!

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