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The 2012 International Sign Contest: A Gallop to Glory

Alltech provided the venue, and Lexington (KY) area sign and creative professionals offered expertise.



Seeking a change of pace for the judging of this year’s contest, I ventured approximately 100 miles south to Nicholasville, KY, home of Alltech’s corporate headquarters. Pearse Lyons, who founded the company, with his wife, Deirdre, earned a Ph.D. in the study of yeast fermentation, and parlayed his knowledge of yeast into the production of myriad animal health and nutrition products.

Alltech now stands among the top 10 producers of animal-health products in the world. Optimizing Dr. Lyons’ knowledge of yeast, Alltech also operates the Lexington (KY) Brewing and Distilling Co., which produced several Kentucky Ale varieties (I highly recommend the Bourbon Barrel Ale) as well as Town Branch Bourbon and Pearse Lyons Reserve malt whiskey.

The company, which serves as a title sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, collaborated with Ruggles Signs (Versailles, KY) to develop the event signage and graphics for the 2010 Games, which took place at the Kentucky Horse Park (see ST, December 2010, page 86). Tim Cambron, Ruggles’ president, graciously assisted with making arrangements for the facility and participating judges.

Alltech’s corporate facilities were almost overwhelmingly beautiful. Outside the main entrance sits a bronze statue of a young boy reading a book with an inquisitive look while sitting atop a globe (symbolizing how study and curiosity improve mankind’s quality of life). A bejeweled, glass-and-metal sculpture, named D ‘n Neigh (pronounced “DNA,” a reflection of the company’s scientific foundation), hangs from the high ceiling of Alltech’s foyer.

The sculpture was prepared for the Games; the original plan was for two equine pieces, but the project’s complexity – it required more than a year to produce – precluded full completion prior to the Games. Throughout, elegant woodwork and subtle, yet impactful, environmental graphics create Alltech’s exemplary corporate image.

The quality of this year’s entries proved worthy of the judging environs. The 282 entries received may have been a slightly quantitative drop from past contest fields – moving the deadline up from January to December to accommodate earlier publication may have been a factor – but the quality was superlative. The judges’ debates over the merits of competing entries were often lengthy, but good-natured and often humorous.


Many thanks to this year’s panel of adjudicators: Scott Cambron (Tim’s nephew), a Ruggles project manager; Albert Oberst, president of Integrated Signs (Lexington); Laci Poulter, Alltech’s consumer-communications manager and a past Addy Award winner; and Jeff Walker, creative-services manager for University of Kentucky Healthcare.

The top prize went to Lorenc + Yoo Design’s environmental-graphic design for Fish in the Garden, an upscale, Chinese mixed-use facility. Fabricator Shenzhen Youking Sign Design and Mfg. executed Lorenc’s vision, which combines powerful aquatic imagery and deep, wood-grain colors to create an elegant, yet powerful, sense of place. GableSigns also emerged as a big winner, with two first-place finishes.

The Banners/Murals/Supergraphics category comprises probably the most unique results, with the three different technologies winning awards. An acrylic, mosaic-style mural, produced by in-house signmakers for the Inglewood, CA Church of Scientology, took first; a series of handpainted murals, developed by signmaker/muralists Jay Allen and Bill Hueg, to commemorate the history of the Lincoln Highway, earned second; and, a large, digital-mural production by Britten Banners for Western Michigan Univ. finished third.

Perhaps more than any year in the Sign Contest’s more than 30-plus-year history, this year’s winners capture the creative possibilities of signage. Browse the pages and see for yourself.



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