Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of this week I was in Louisville at the FFTA Annual Forum & INFO*FLEX exhibition. It was my first time attending this event and I was impressed. We even got to spend Tuesday evening at the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom theme park in Louisville. I must say it was fun not having to wait in line for any of the rides (the park was closed to the public).
I was busy assisting one of our distributors (ColorManagement.com) with booth duty Sunday and Monday, but I did manage to attend several technical sessions focused on Color Management Tuesday. One of these sessions was about the still fairly new Printing Across Boarders (PAB) initiative. At the urging of Adam Dewitz over at Printmode.net I resumed receiving e-mail from the [pab] forum several weeks ago, so was interested to hear what was happening.
The primary focus of the presentation by Gerald Gerlach of Integrity Graphics was the GRACoL 7 (G7) methodology. It was during this presentation, and over the subsequent 24 hours that I began to solidify my current overall feelings about G7 and more importantly about graphic arts standards in general.
For my entire career in the graphic arts (more than 20 years now) I have nibbled at the edges of the standards community. I have always found it fascinating and have felt I had something to contribute. While my main role in life is now selling, I am still a pretty fair graphic arts technician when I need to be. I have not been more involved in the standards community for one reason; time. Those who carry the vast majority of the standards load in this industry do so as volunteers. While they may be on a company payroll somewhere I assure that only a very small percentage are paid to do only standards work.
These people give up evenings, weekends, and other valuable personal time so we can have graphic arts standards. I wish to say to all of you (and you know who you are) THANK YOU! So, perhaps instead of standing on the sidelines and criticizing (constructive or otherwise) all of us should be saying “how can we help you.”
While I do not completely agree with the G7 methodology, I do agree it is a step forward. I believe this because our competition in the Graphic Arts industry is not other printers. It is other communication mediums. Can you imagine television succeeding without any standards? Can you imagine the internet succeeding without any standards?
We as an industry need the ability to print an image consistently anywhere in the world. This is the true goal of G7 as far as I can tell. While I feel in the case of many printers this means you must “dumb down “ your press, the trade off for regional, national, or international print buyer makes this consequence of the methodology worth while. Any printer can still apply their “secret sauce” technology to specialty jobs. Just because you can print to G7 does not mean you must print to G7.
In conclusion, I want to ask the working members of BRIDGS, CGATS, FIRST, GRACoL, SNAP, & SWOP….How can I help?