That is not news to regular Print Media Centr visitors, but until recently my multiverse guidebook didn’t include ink-sniffers and substrate sensitives.
Print was all around, but the Printerverse was hidden.
With an experience less Brian Greene and more Barry Allen, I did not perceive it until I vibrated through the barrier and saw it myself.
So how did I end up on Earth CMYK?
There’s a subplot weaving in and out of my epic poem that involves me introducing appropriate software, hardware, and services to businesses in exchange for food and shelter. What’s “appropriate” is determined by what will help the people involved achieve meaningful results. And to know what is meaningful, I have to know the people.
During the summer of 2014, I joined eLynxx Solutions and ventured out to meet the people who would be the core users of the software: print buyers and production pros. I also sought influencers and thought leaders in the world of print, because—surprise—they’re influencers and thought leaders. (Hi, Ambassador!)
Now signage and direct mail can’t pass by my eyes or through my hands without me thinking of all the work people put into producing it. I had no inkling of the complexities (and characters) involved. And more than the management of specifications, changes, etc., I think of the people themselves.
I hear stories. Elders of the tribe describe how things were back when they started decades ago versus now. Buyers share their industry-specific challenges (e.g. friends in adult entertainment don’t want to be screwed by prudish printers). Tales of printers performing last minute miracles to meet deadlines have been told to me by appreciative customers. Lots of printers and print buyers worry about how certain large print management firms could impact them professionally. With literal tears of joy, one guy recounted how he came to inhabit the Printerverse and build a professional life around paper and print.
I’ve met people who still carry loops. I know what a loop is. Pantone publishes holy writ. Business card anxiety is a thing for me now because when these folk touch paper they really touch the paper. I’ve attended events where all around me print devotees “ooohed” and “aaaaaahed” as Trish Witkowski showed off a “super cool fold.” If I had not already grown accustomed to new friends like Dennis Fay (who has an ink-in-the-blood lineage going back to his grandfather), I would have sworn Trish was on stage performing legit alchemy. But I get it. There’s a culture. There’s a tribe. It’s a Printerverse with its own memes, in-jokes, and shared experiences.
Andy Solages connects people and organizations with technologies to improve professional experiences and business results. Andy is a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News from The Printerverse and a regular participant in #PrintChat on Twitter.