Celebrating Excellence at the NZ Sign Awards 2021

Every year we hold our flagship event, the NZ Sign Awards of Excellence, and from near and far sign makers from throughout New Zealand gather to compete and to get recognised as one of the industry’s finest and leading Sign Making businesses.

2021 NZ Sign Awards of Excellence was slightly different from every other year in the fact that ….   we had combined two years of award entries into one due to COVID-19 that hit our world early 2020.  It was a one-night-only event and many from all over New Zealand come to celebrate the successes and highlights of the evening at The Cordis in Auckland on the 10th July.  To our surprise Illuminated signage was a new favourite category moving into the top spot, surpassing the most favored category for many years, Sign Written Vehicles – Digital.  Another very popular category this year was self-promotion, and here we were really treated to some outstanding creative self-promotion entries that were obviously completed during the COVID year.  In reflection, the lockdown gave many the chance and the time to become creative with their signage for their own businesses, not normally a job that is ever fully completed to its full potential.  Although the entries were light in the more traditional signage categories, The Old Sign Studio managed to receive 4 Golds in 2 categories, Theming and Traditional Hand Crafted and Lettered Signs.  Their entries were truly inspiring, and we hope to see more of their work in future years.  Sign Network a regular supporter of our NZ Sign Awards of Excellence picked up the Industry Choice Award with their Mediterranean Food Co called Delicious Branding. A stunning piece of illuminated lettered signage erected onto teal vertical tiles, located at the Riverside Market in Christchurch.  Overall the standard for 2020/21 was extremely high, which showed in some categories when two golds were given to deserving winners.

Our Master of Ceremonies, Terry Williams was top-notch, dressed in his tux he presented and ran a highly professional evening, without a hitch.  Swiftly he announced the winners one after another until it was time for our President Andy Lowe to announce one of our most encouraging and rewarding awards, Signee Apprentice of the Year.  This award highlights outstanding work ethics and craftsmanship of one top young apprentice.  At this year’s NZ Sign Awards of Excellence, Nick Lightfoot from The Sign Shop Nelson was awarded Signee Apprentice of The Year 2021. Nick, is 23 years old and has recently completed his apprenticeship at The Sign Shop Nelson under guidance from Craig Barnes.

Nick says going through an apprenticeship has enabled him to be a better artist and has become more hands-on than he had ever expected. Having the qualification means he can continue to be a signwriter wherever he goes and has a future goal to help other apprentices throughout their qualifications.  Nick also mentions that he has always been interested in graphic design, and it definitely showed with his application.  Nick has many satisfied clients, who say that his work goes “above and beyond their expectations.”

Nick has also gained a number of industry achievements while completing his apprenticeship and in 2019 at the NZ Sign Awards of Excellence, he was awarded gold for his entry in the  “Work by an Apprentice,” category, a silver in category “Original In-House Design,” and in category“ Sign Written Vehicles – Digital”,  more recently, Nick was involved in the design and production of 2 award winning entries at the 2020/21 NZ Sign Awards of Excellence, entry called “Country Retreats on Ranzau”  Clients say that “Nick’s enthusiasm and ability to picture exactly what they are after is spot on! His workmanship is evident from concept and design to manufacturing and installation and the final outcome of the new branding and signage are absolutely outstanding.”

Nick certainly has a crazy, creative talent for sign making, and receiving the title Signee Apprentice of the Year 2021 could not have been more deserving, the NZSDA would like to congratulate Nick on this huge achievement..  Nick was awarded over $3000 in prizes thanks to our Sponsors Computaleta, Cohesive, and Resene.

Shortly after and at the conclusion of the Awards evening Andy Lowe, President also announced and handed out an Honorary Award for Nick Baty.  For many, many years Nick sat on the NZSDA board of which he became President for 9 years, he assisted with the development of the Unit Standards for the Sign Making apprenticeship with Competenz and also created opportunities for the suppliers of the industry to promote their products by holding NZ’s first Sign Expo way back in 2013.  Nick has given back to the industry for over 20 years and so this award was so deserving as Nick continues to support the management board at times with ongoing projects and advice.  We wish Nick well in his future aspirations and thank him for all that he has accomplished for the industry.

To end the evening The Cover Up band and vocalists smashed out all those amazing anthems that we all love to dance and sing to, as many celebrated and reconnected with old mates, connected with new mates until the early hours of the morning.

So, it’s back to the South Island for our Conference and Awards for 2022 to be held in Queenstown.  Many I know are already looking forward to this industry event, so we hope to see many new and familiar faces in the fun adventure capital of Aotearoa.