The show may be over but it’s worth looking beyond the many sales made to assess why it was an important watershed for the industry. Andy McCourt felt there was one event that mattered more than the undoubted success of sales and networking, and it needs further nurturing.


P1000502The first print Sydney industry trade expo in four years was bound to have pent-up demand but last week’s Visual Impact went beyond that and delivered a buoyant statement, with multi-faceted messages that went beyond signage as we know it.

Firstly, the name on ‘the tin’ matched or exceeded the product expectations. It was highly visual and delivered thunder-and-lightning impact. The show underscored the importance of good visual communications, be it for indoor or outdoor signage, wayfinding, instruction, advertising or branding. Labels and short-run/prototype packaging were touched upon

All bases were covered on a bewildering array of media and electronic means. Choice of media is so important today – from sustainability, safetyP1000537 and performance perspectives. For example, the issue of flammable ACM composite cladding panels might be fading but vigilance is still called for, SAS (Signage Accessories Supplies), for example have eliminated the risk in wall cladding by offering pure 2mm aluminium sheets coated in a selection of colours. As such it is 100% non-combustible. SAS still sells foam-cored panels for appropriate uses, and acrylic and LED lighting systems too.

Soft signage backlit walls abounded with Europoles leading the way along with clever new pop-up exhibition stand ideas. The Penrith Museum of Printing was surprisingly busy with exceptional interest shown even by youngsters in letterpress printing and typesetting. The seminars were well attended and the newly introduced ‘Photo & Fine Art’ area of gallery and workshops showed that inkjet is not just all about signage.

Something mattered more than anything else

P1000508 Mel Ireland  But there was one event that not only mattered but struck a chord – more like an orchestra’s crescendo – and it was not exclusively about wide format and signage. The LIA’s presentation of the Graduate of the Year Awards, sponsored by Visual Connections, Heidelberg and Ball & Doggett.

LIA of course, stands for ‘Lithographic Institute of Australia’ but it has adopted a new tagline ‘For All People in Print.’ It’s Graduate of the Year programme at both state and national level is believed to be Australia’s longest-running industry award for apprentices and graduates, begun in 1972. Run by volunteers of considerable experience, it may not seek the limelight of fame but it quietly gets on with the business of industry gatherings, plant tours, lobbying, training and promoting our industry – not just for Lithography but, as the tagline says ‘for all people in print.’

And what wonderful people were the finalists – who each had already won awards at state level. They were:

Jervis Tsui, Frontline Print, NSW

Martin Grogan, PSI Screenprinting, Qld

Nicole Jesenko, Tafe SA

Christine Gardiner, Studio Labels , SA

Paul Plunkett, Pakaflex, Vic

Syed Ahamed, Orora Group, WA

Angus McGrath, Note Printing Australia, Vic

Bradley Powell, MCC Label, Qld

Mel Ireland, LIA National President, chaired the proceedings and announced the 2 national category winners:

Angus McGrath of Note Printing Australia won the LIA-Heidelberg Grad. Of the Year and a $10,000 prize to further his education globally, presented by Dierk Wissman of Heidelberg.

Bradley Powell of MCC Label won the newly-introduced ‘Future leaders’ Award and $5,000 from Ball & Doggett, presented by National Marketing Manager Tony Bertrand.

It was Bertrand's address to the gathering that chimed a bell that could be heard all over the Visual Impact show floor. In a stirring speech, while pointing to the show floor, he said: P1000526Tony Bertrand

“There are a lot of people who make money out of this industry and they should be supporting these sorts of initiatives, so I am calling on all of them to do just that.”

It was a fair point. We can’t just leave it up to TAFEs, associations and AusSIPs to promote our ‘for all people in print’ industry – everyone who participates in profiting by supplying whatever technologies and materials the industry uses should set aside a small sum to allocate for recruiting young people into our creative, high-technology and fantastic industry. Bertrand’s polemic was spot-on. His company has weighed in; Heidelberg has for a long time weighed in; Visual Connections is well vested in it P1000534Visual Connection's VP Ben Eaton congratulates winner Angus McGrath of Note Printing Australiaand it must be noted that Visual Connections’ VP Ben Eaton and his firm Starleaton has weighed in with its ‘Jump Start’ recruiting and training programme.

How can this be achieved? Better minds than mine know what to organise but perhaps the ‘Kick-Starter’ could be the not-for-profit Associations that already do their bit – Visual Connections and the LIA.

If you think it doesn’t matter or it’s not possible or all too hard, just take a look into the faces of the LIA Graduates of the Year Award finalists from last week’s Visual Impact night and you will see the heartbeat – the very soul – of our industry’s future.


Isn’t that worth funding?


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