As 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of INSP, members of the public are being asked to choose their favourite street paper cover from a group of 25 to win the inaugural People’s Cover Award.
A landmark achievement, INSP’s 25th anniversary celebrations kicked off with the annual #VendorWeek in February, and will continue on throughout the year, especially at this year’s Global Street Paper Summit in June, which is being hosted by Hannover street paper Asphalt, also celebrating its 25th birthday, during which the annual INSP Awards winners will be announced.
While the winners of the ten main categories will be decided by a panel of external judges as usual, to further mark the milestone, INSP is presenting the People’s Cover Award, a special award made up of the 25 most popular covers of recent years, which will be open to a public vote.
Eligible for the honour are 25 street papers from 17 different countries, all of which have been nominees for Best Cover at previous INSP Awards, including the finalists of this year’s Best Cover category.
The INSP Awards and Summit are always a special time of year in the street paper calendar, but with the occasion of the 25th anniversary and the addition of this category, engaging street paper readers and supporters across the world, it promises to be extra special this year. This is the first time INSP is giving street paper audiences the opportunity to get involved and pick their favourite cover.
Ahead of this year’s Global Street Paper Summit, and the launch of the People’s Cover Award, Maree Aldam, INSP’s chief executive, said: “For 25 years, INSP has supported the street paper movement to help tens of thousands of homeless vendors each year to earn an income and improve their lives. During this time, we have seen social shifts and economic changes that pose challenges to our street papers but also mean that their work – supporting some of the most marginalised people in our towns and cities – has never been more important.
“Throughout our 25th anniversary year and in the years ahead, we will support our street papers to stay relevant in a changing world. We will continue to provide editorial content, business development support and training to our street papers, and we will also increasingly support our network to collaborate at different levels – locally, regionally and internationally – exploring new ways to innovate and increase the social impact of street papers.
“As well as being a milestone for INSP, 2019 sees a number of our members celebrate landmark anniversaries, and we want to share our congratulations with them on their longevity and continuing inspirational work. This online vote is a fantastic way of getting everyone from the world of street papers – staff, vendors, readers, and supporters – involved. Street papers have a combined readership of 4.6 million worldwide, and we hope lots of them vote.”
The Big Issue (UK) helped kick off the 25-year milestone INSP has now reached as one of its founding members. The street paper’s editor, Paul McNamee, spoke a little about how his magazine approaches cover design.
He said: “Street paper covers must act as billboards and markers of who we are. On the street, vendors have a tough enough job, with many people not keen to make eye contact. We need to make the cover work immediately.
“We ignore normal magazine cover tropes. They must be arresting, tempt readers in and reflect the outsider, non-establishment identity of the magazine. I’ve always looked to have covers that a reader will feel instinctively is Big Issue without knowing exactly why.
“Over the years, The Big Issue and other street papers have been recognized for their covers. This matters. It shows we are consistently hitting the level we should be, and that street papers are frequently better than regular retail-style magazines.
“We work for days, sometimes weeks, to craft our covers, and push as far as we can to get it right. If our vendors are putting themselves out there on the street, taking a risk to make a living, we owe it to them to make the product the very best it can be.”
Jamie Jefferson, chief creative officer and co-founder of design agency Equator, and a judge on this year’s Awards panel, added: “I have been absolutely blown away by the quality of street papers across the globe. If, like me, you believe that great design is borne of a passion for the subject, then what you’ll see in the work created by the people behind these publications demonstrates passion by the truckload, and you’ll cast your vote for your favourite cover along with many others. There is a level of care, attention and love for the subject that results in original ideas of the highest standard – amazing stories, beautifully told.
“Equator partnered with INSP in 2017 for the ‘UNCOVERED: still homeless, still an issue’ street paper exhibition and it is an honour for me to play a small part in celebrating the superhuman effort of everyone involved in creating these magazines, publications that represent not just the best of design, but the best of humanity.”
In the end, the people that great street paper covers benefit the most are vendors. Bernhard Perzanowski (46), who sells Swedish street paper Faktum in central Gothenburg, explained what kinds of covers work for him at his pitch.
He said: “The cover and layout are so important to me as a vendor. It must stand out, be colourful and give a message of quality. For me, having a famous person on the cover always sells best, like the cover with The Cardigans’ Nina Persson.”
Voting for the People’s Cover Award is open to all members of the public until Wednesday 19 June, when the winner will be announced at the INSP Awards ceremony in Hannover, Germany.
See all 25 street paper covers and cast your vote here: tiny.cc/PeoplesCoverINSP
Don’t forget to use #INSP25 to join in all of INSP’s anniversary celebrations.