COLOR22 ended on a high note this year, finishing the color management conference with two keynotes that helped to bring the ideas together and encourage attendees to take everything they learned and apply it to their own businesses.
Mike Todryk, a color technical specialist at IWCO Direct , led a session titled "Color is Everyone's Business" that helped to put color management and it's role in the world of print and branding into perspective. He shared that he has been in printing for 25 years, and doing color management for 22, with his first COLOR event happening back in 2009. He shared, "my biggest takeaway from COLOR09 was 'oh god, I'm not checking anything.'" That, he said, started his passion for not only creating and managing color, but for getting serious about process control, and ensuring the color remains stable, consistent, and repeatable across every printer, every technology, every substrate, and every job.
"I'm not a color scientist," he told attendees, "I'm a 'makeitworkist.' I understand not everyone will agree with me, but these are the things that have worked for me." He continued, "we have more than 40 pieces of equip that covers all the technology out there, and they all have to have a common appearance."
To do that, he noted, IWCO Direct has several standards that all jobs must comply with — CRPC3 or CRPC6 depending on whether it is a coated substrate or uncoated — but G7 is what makes up the backbone of the process control operation. Every piece of equipment is calibrated to G7 standards, he said, and every press — across all print technologies, offset to digital — that can accept G7 curves is calibrated on the machine itself to G7 standards, as well as using G7 throughout the color management process. This, he notes, allows the shop to achieve a consistent appearance across every press in the building, to the point where if two presses are using the same substrate, he noted, they are functionally identical, even if they are different ink technologies.
Todryk also stressed the importance of education - not only of staying on top of the latest standards, trends, and technologies himself, but also constantly educating his team on the importance of color, his operators on how to get and maintain great color, and even his sales people and the end clients on why standards and color is so critical. And at the end of every job, IWCO does a post-mortem, making sure to ask not only what went right, but what didn't, and figuring out ways to consistently improve every process.
Packaging's Brave New World
The final keynote of the conference was "Rethinking Packaging in a Digitally Accelerated World," presented by Q Division's Manolo Almagro and Ben Gauthier. They took a closer look at some of the high-tech trends impacting the world today, and how those trends are both being embraced by brands right now, and how it could impact how brands connect with consumers in the future.
One area they explored is the concept of augmented reality and the Metaverse, where brands are having to think about packaging in an entirely new way. It not only needs to have a physical presence, they also need to figure out how to translate that package into the digital realm, and have a consistent and recognizable brand experience that carries through.
"This is the buzzword of all buzzwords," said Almagro. 'When Facebook first announced this whole concept, I laughed and there was a lot of cringing. Anyone who says they understand it is lying, but there are a lot of powerful people in technology want to will this into existence." Right now, he noted, there is a race to create a walled garden that will capture consumers and keep them in — Apple, Google, and Facebook are the three biggest players in this space. For brands, it means finding ways to connect with consumers in this virtual world, and navigating the different spaces, or even outright creating their own space and hoping consumers will engage with the consumer directly.
"What does a package look like in a virtual environment?" asked Gauthier. " Is it a one to one translation? People are starting to look at how a product lives in the virtual space." And this is where printers come in. Brands are going to be looking for experts to help them navigate this increasingly complex web of platforms, experiences, and translating the physical to the virtual and back again.
"It's not going to happen tomorrow," said Gauthier, "but it is something to keep an eye on, and understand how it will impact the business." Especially right now, where everyone is experimenting to see what works, brands are looking for partners with innovative ideas on new ways to make their packaging more engaging, no matter where a consumer might encounter it. This is a great time to get in on the ground level, learning right alongside the brands and building a body of knowledge that can translate into expertise in the future, when the experimental phase is done.
These were just a few of the highlights from this year's COLOR22 color management conference. This annual event is always a place where color experts, beginners, and everyone in between can come to share ideas and learn together. Stay tuned for more information about next year's event, or visit color.printing.org for details.