Redefining the Print and Graphic Arts Industry for Tomorrow’s Printers

This article was contributed by Larry Kroll, Vice President, Development, PGSF, whose ongoing commitment to expanding the printing industry by cultivating the next generations of printers and graphic artists through the PGSF has resulted in an incredibly successful foundation for the past 56 years.

Graphic arts students pose with Ben before a pressroom tour of Printing Industries of America headquarters in Sewickley, PA.

Twenty-eight years ago, long before our current Print and Graphic Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) scholarship applicants were even born, one of this country's leading scientists, Dr. Egon Spengler, stated for the record that “Print is dead.” Here is the video clip you may remember from 1984 declaring, “Print is dead.”

For almost three decades the “experts” have been declaring that the printing industry was either dead or dying. However, I don't believe that there is any knowledgeable person out there today who would not say that the printing industry is still alive, however, gravely injured.

The printing and graphic arts industry has endured major damage and critical injury. It is a victim of huge advances in productivity through the use of highly automated equipment, a revolution in competing technologies, and media coupled with the pressures to deliver a finished product “better, faster, and cheaper.”

Even though severely wounded, the printing and graphics arts industry will survive. It will survive for the very reasons that it has prospered and grown over the past 562 years when Johannes Gutenberg started up his first printing press in 1450.

Since the invention of the Gutenberg press and movable type, the printing industry has faced many life-threatening challenges. I am sure that at each of these crossroads, there were those who declared that “Print is dead.”

Just in the last 60 years the industry has moved from hand-set type and letterpress and then from letterpress to lithography to electronic publishing and, of course, to digital printing. And with the introduction of each new advancement came the cry that “Print was dead.” It wasn't was evolving...improving and progressing to the next level of accomplishment.

What does all this talk of death, injury, and printing history have to do with the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) and our young graphic arts scholars? In my opinion, everything.

I believe that the print and graphics industry will once again rebound from adversity. I believe that once again it will find a way to redefine itself and to prosper. Not at the exceedingly high levels and accelerated rate that we experienced just five and ten years ago, but at a more conservative sustainable level—a level that makes sense for stability and long-term growth. Research Shows Americans Still Prefer Print and Paper - WhatTheyThink.

One of the primary and necessary requirements of this “redefined” print and graphics industry will be to focus on creating and encouraging educated, qualified, and enthusiastic leaders—intelligent individuals with a passion for our industry and for success and accomplishment. And this is precisely where and why PGSF becomes so important. PGSF provides the scholarship support for these young enthusiastic scholars—our future leaders. This is the support they need to accomplish their educational goals, which, in turn, provides the basis for a successful career in the Industry. Then, what we are counting on is that those successful print and graphics industry leaders, executives, and educators will “give-back” to PGSF and to the Industry that has supported them. Over the years, this philosophy of giving-back has been our strength and just one more reason why "Print is not dead!"


What do you envision for the future of the printing and graphic arts industries? Please share your thoughts with us here or tweet your responses to @printind  #PGSF!

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