With subzero temperatures hitting the Midwest, it seems like almost a lifetime ago that I was in San Diego for the 2019 PIA Color Conference. This event is an annual destination for members of our Color Technical Support (CTS) team, and not just because of its warm location in January. Being able to meet with industry leaders who have been in the forefront of developing graphic art standards is very beneficial. It allows our team to maintain our competitive edge in color accuracy and reproduction. The industry is constantly changing and IWCO Direct works hard to continue to educate our team on the “best in class” concepts that can benefit our clients and our approach to direct marketing services.
After all, providing color accuracy and a shared appearance across all components of a direct mail package is critical for our clients’ brands. The Printing Industries of America (PIA) Color Conference allows us to learn more about these important challenges. It has also provided IWCO Direct an opportunity to share our experience about our journey to achieving unprecedented color uniformity across multiple print technologies and what challenges we had to overcome.
The PIA Color Conference Gives Us a Sneak Peek at Innovations in Color
One of our goals at the Color Conference was to look for tools we will need when our Color Science Educational Center construction is finished in March. Two that caught our eye were the JUST Normlicht LED Tabletop Viewer (a light booth) for visual color matching. It is equipped with a digital dimmer to simulate and program every possible lighting situation. Maxwell, an online color management tool by CHROMiX, is another innovation that piqued our interest. It’s a tool that allows easy uploading and downloading of profiles, color measurements, and other color data. Maxwell also offers device trending, color profile, and measurement services. It seemed like a great tool for color measurements and verifying process controls.
Of course, we made time to attend multiple presentations as well. A few presentations will certainly stick with me, especially the “Brand Owners Want Consistency. We Have It!” session by Steve Smiley, owner of SmileyColor. He was very animated and provided an excellent point of view that differed from vendors and practitioners. Mike Graff, President & CEO of Sandy Alexander, also shared some interesting information during his “Color Excellence: It’s a Journey, Not a Destination” presentation. Sandy Alexander’s journey is very reminiscent of our endeavor to improve color process controls. It was nice to see where others have come from and where we are all going.
And, of course, I was sure to attend Mike Todryk’s presentation on how to use G7 across all technologies, which was well received by the packed room. There were a variety of questions from attendees about ways to incorporate G7 into their individual situations. In fact, questions about G7 were a recurring theme throughout the rest of the conference. Not to toot our own horn, but Don Hutcheson, of HutchColor, commented, “Mike’s presentation was one of the best sessions I’ve attended over the past some 20 years.” I second that; great job, Mike!
Top Takeaways for Those Who Couldn’t Attend
Although there was an enormous amount of information to take in at the event, these four key takeaways seemed to keep coming up session after session:
- Color education is a journey
- Color management is a “mind set”
- A color system is designed to evolve to meet current and future customer needs
- There is a continued emphasis on the use of process controls and color excellence to meet customers’ expectations and marketing goals.
It was also very encouraging to see a lot of fresh faces at the PIA Color Conference. This included 137 first-time attendees out of a total of 200. I also noticed numerous college students from the Graphic Communication programs at Clemson and UW-Stout. It was gratifying to see this new emphasis and interest in color technology, and it bodes well for our industry.
Although we’re back in the frozen tundra, being able to meet people from all over the world and reestablishing connections is so important. Seeing technology and graphic standards evolve as the industry retools to a more ever-present digital environment and knowing we have been at the crest of the wave is very exciting. I have been attending the PIA Color Conference for 18 years, and this year’s event was particularly good in terms of content and networking, and we expect it to be even better in 2020.
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