School's in Session

Head back to the classroom -- real or virtual -- to learnnew skills and refine existing practices

As September rolls around, the balmy days of summer are suddenly becoming a thing of the past. And no matter if you’ve been out of school for two years or 20, the onset of
cooler days, crisp fall nights, and football-filled weekends serve as a reminder that another school year has commenced.

It’s a natural time, then, to think about how your shop can go “back to school” and to turn your thoughts to the training and education programs available to you and your
employees. In this ever-evolving industry, it’s imperative for shop owners, managers, and staff to stay on top of the latest technologies and techniques.

And while industry websites, blogs, and trade magazines such as this one play vital roles in keeping you in-the-know, they can only go so far in serving your shop’s
specific educational needs. Attending a conference, training program, or webinar, or completing an online training course can provide you with the individual tools needed to
take your shop to the next level. Keep in mind that, while budgets are showing signs of loosening, consumers are still being cautious with their dollars, so providing customers with the best possible product available is especially important to the success of your shop. Training and education are available from a variety of sources, including manufacturers and suppliers, tradeshow educational sessions, industry associations, and others.

Manufacturers and suppliers as educators
If your shop needs training on a specific software, equipment, or technique, attending a training session or taking an online course from a manufacturer or supplier might
be the way to go. Here, we highlight more than a dozen companies that have programs dedicated to training clients on specific products or providing educational resources for
both the business and technical sides of a shop’s operations (in alphabetical order).

Cyrious Software hosts CyrCon, an annual conference for users of Cyrious products. The conference includes product-specific training, user-led roundtable discussions, expert-user speakers, and sessions on new product features and enhancements.
The company also offers a series of live, weekly online classes to provide training on its various software products. The next conference is scheduled for April 2010 and will be held in Orlando, Florida.

The EFI Connect conference brings EFI users together to test-drive products, discuss industry trends, attend keynote addresses, and network with peers. Nearly 200
breakout sessions were offered this past August at the 10th annual conference held in Las Vegas. The conference also includes a Connect Computer Lab, which features demo stations where users can meet one-on-one with EFI support, training, and development staff.

EFI also offers its Color Academy Training Course on EFI Colorproof XF. Taught onsite or at a US training location, the two-day course covers installation of the product as well as confi guration, settings, licensing, spot-on color, linearization, and more.

Presented by the Color Management Group, the Extreme Color Management (ECM)
conference offers comprehensive technical information on color-management techniques and technologies. The event also includes the Spectrum keynote address and sessions for managers that cover how to implement colormanagement practices.

Visit HP’s website to access free large-format printing workshops. A workshop on pre-production tips and techniques explores image processing, design software, and scanning and resolution techniques; discusses color calibration; and covers how to scale an oversize project. Printing and marketing large-format projects is also covered in another class that teaches step-by-step printing; discusses techniques for rigid printing and finishing; and highlights marketing, selling, and quoting tips.

In addition, HP has expanded its HP Graphic Arts Capture program to cover the wide-format arena. A collection of tools and training initiatives to help print providers gain a competitive edge, the Capture program includes: locator guides for finishing equipment, digital front ends, and media; vertical market overviews for applications; large-format market studies; customizable marketing templates; open house planning guides; and much more.

Although Ideal no longer offers scanner-related webinars (it sold its scanning division to Contex last year), the company retains its services and software-development divisions and offers webinars on its sub-based Ideal Scanroom software. The webinars are by request only and scheduled as one-on-ones.

Lowen Corporation recently launched Lowen Certified, a training and certification program for vehicle wraps and related digital graphics. At the company’s 19,000-square-foot Training and Certification Center in Hutchinson, Kansas, installers can pursue any of five designations: Vehicle Wrap Installation Professional; Fleet Graphics Installation Professional; Rough Wall Installation Professional; On Premise Graphics Installer; and Lowen Certified Expert Installer. The certification status is portable, meaning that the certifi cation stays with the individual, not the company.

MacTac’s Application Nation is an online resource and virtual community for graphics
installers working with vehicle wraps, cut vinyl, and wall and building graphics. Members can visit the website to ask questions of industry experts, read about installation tips, peruse the resource library, and download ICC profiles. For the past two years, MacTac has offered Application Nation training sessions across the country. The hands-on, two-day-long events cover techniques on vehicle and vinyl preparation, printing, measuring, squeegeeing, repositioning, finishing, and removal.

 

This summer, Mutoh teamed up with vehicle wrap company Carwraps to offer an online video car wrap training series. Featuring industry expert Justin Pate and Carwraps president Todd LaBrie, the videos cover the design, production, and installation aspects of vehicle graphics. Access to the videos is available in month-ly or daily memberships. Membership also includes access to Carwrap’s design database with vector-based vehicle-wrap designs.

Nazdar Consulting Services, offers a number of training and consulting programs and initiatives, including Chromatix Color Control training, G7 Certification, Lean Sigma classes, hazardous material education, and image-quality training. Chromatix Color Control aims to help businesses reduce labor costs, add capacity in peak production periods, and produce high-quality, repeatable color with every print. Lean Sigma focuses on reducing waste and variation in the manufacturing process. The 49 CFR hazardous material training classes cover the basic skills needed to prepare, offer, and accept domestic shipments of hazardous materials. Nazdar’s Improve your IQ (Image Quality) classes use the Color Management Workflow to streamline the color Management process and develop a color standard that is reproducible.

A subsidiary of Tekgraf, New Vision offers certified classroom training on a variety of products. The company offers reseller training programs for HP solvent printer 8000s, 9000s, and 10000s series that cover how to install and repair printers. Training on Onyx RIPs for HP Designjet printers is also offered; the one-day course covers installation, usage, and troubleshooting.

The company also offers a Prints in Motion program, a multi-city training program on how to use solvent printing and wrap applications to grow a business. The day-long event features live car-wrap printing, installation, finishing, and cutting demonstrations. Additionally, New Vision offers online training including live webinars, on-demand webinars, downloadable, computer-based training CDs, and a learning center where visitors can access manuals, CDs, proposals, and videos.

This past summer, Nik Software offered six free, hour-long webinars that cover photography topics, including enhancing weddings, wildlife, portraits, landscapes, and fine-art images. The classes offered insights and tips on all of Nik Software’s image-enhancing plug-ins. The webinars will continue through mid-September. In addition, Nik also offers more than 70 short, online educational videos that cover the entire line of the company’s products. The free seminars can be downloaded or streamed.

Roland University offers end-user and dealer workshops for each of its product lines, featuring hands-on instruction by industry experts. This year, those programs include the Born to Wrap Workshop, the X-Rite Roland Color Workshop and the Productivity Workshop. The Born to Wrap Workshop is a two-day workshop that covers a vehicle graphics job from design to installation. Attendees will learn tips on file setup and design, color matching and workflow, printing, cutting and laminating, job estimation, sales, and advertising; and preparation, application, and removal techniques.

The X-Rite Roland Color Workshop covers step-by-step color-management strategies to help increase productivity and accuracy; and the one-day Productivity Workshop aims to help print providers establish a consistent color workflow between your graphics applications and Roland VersaWorks.

3M Graphics Resources Video Library includes a number of instructional videos for graphics providers. The online videos cover topics including vehicle wraps for severe contours, how to profit from vehicle wraps, wall graphic applications, and racecar wrap applications, to name a few.

X-Rite offers several training options via its Color Services Group. Hands-on classroom training workshops are held at the company’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Customers can register for a range of classes that focus on various products or techniques, including color formulation, color management for wide format, introduction to color management, and more.

Onsite training is also available and allows employees to learn while in the comfort of their own shop. Onsite training is available for all aspects of workflow, including input devices, monitor calibration, file preparation and handling, application setup, RIPs, printers, and color management. G7 Master Qualification is also available through onsite training. X-Rite also offers phone-and Web-based interactive training sessions, which are taught live by an X-Rite Color Expert. Additionally, the company offers seminars on color theory in various locations throughout the year.

Tradeshow education
Make the most of your attendance at trade shows this year, and go beyond the show floor to learn about new techniques and technologies that will benefit your shop. Many tradeshows offer seminars and workshops led by industry experts during the tradeshow, or in some cases, in the days leading up to the main event. These educational offers are a great way to learn more about the equipment and software currently utilized in your shop and are also a good opportunity to explore practices and techniques that you might have considered implementing, but have not yet had the time or resources to further pursue.

Graphics of the Americas will take place February 25-27, 2010, in Miami Beach, and
will offer an array of seminar sessions. The 2009 event offered 44 seminars across 10 educational tracks such as prepress, production, management, sales/marketing, and variable-data printing. Additionally, the event teamed with the Aquent Graphics Institute to offer 16 sessions for designers in three tracks—creative, PDF/Photoshop, and
strategy—and also offered 11 seminars in Spanish.

The ISA International Sign Expo is again offering its ISA Discovery Seminar Series for 2010. The seminar series offers interactive forums; hands-on workshops; and seminars that cover digital imaging, legislative regulations, technical industry application, and management, sales, and marketing strategies. The 2010 ISA Expo will be held in Orlando, Florida, April 8-10. (Some educational programs begin on April 7.)

ISA also offers an International Sign Academy program via the association’s website. The Sign Academy offers webinars and seminars on topics including installation and service, production and fabrication, design, sales and marketing, and project management.

Attendees at PDN’s PhotoPlus Expo can choose from more than 100 seminars and hands-on workshops covering the digital-imaging industry. PMA 2009 will be held October 22-24 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

In addition to a show floor with hundreds of exhibitors from the digital-imaging industry, PMA 2010 will offer hundreds of educational sessions. Additionally, the conference will be bookended by conferences held by associations related to digital imaging, including the Digital Imaging Marketing Association. PMA will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, February 21-23, 2010.

Print 2009—dubbed myPrint—will be held September 11-16 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. The show will offer dozens of educational seminars. Sample topics include: "How to Excel in a Soft Market,” “Building Perfectly Practical Workflows that Work,” “Future of the Printed Product,” and “Creating and Managing a Customer Retention
Strategy.” The show will also feature a Wide Format Pavilion that will showcase the latest in wide-format printers and supplies as well as a handful of wide-format-related
seminars. (Click here for a preview of the event.)

Attendees at SGIA 2009 can choose from more than 50 educational sessions that cover several different areas of the industry and are organized into tracks by topic. The show also offers free expert panels covering digital graphics, screen graphics, and garment decoration; a complimentary lecture on online social-networking
strategies and tools; and a keynote breakout session that will follow-up on the keynote address given by Marc Miller, CEO of Sogistics, and address successful sales practices. SGIA 2009 will be held in New Orleans, October 7-9. You can read our SGIA preview here

Conferences and associations
For a specific and focused training and education experience, consider education-only conferences from a mix of associations in the industry.

The Association of Graphic Solutions Providers (IPA) offers webinars and conferences for pre-media professionals in the creative, corporate, print publishing, packaging, and in-plant sectors. The association holds three conferences a year: the IPA Technical Conference, which showcases advancements in graphic technology and workflow; the Business Development Conference; and its CEO forum.

Late last year, the association introduced its Color Management Professional certification program. For print professionals as well as creative, photography, prepress, and pre-media professionals, the program is designed to help users gain knowledge in the principles of color management. The program comprises a series of online instructional courses designed by industry-leading color-management experts, using advanced online training technology with 24/7 access to all courses and exams.

Hosted by PIA/GATF, the Color Management Conference brings together industry experts to discuss color-management technology. The conference is designed for creative professionals, digital and wide-format printers, packaging professionals, and prepress and proofing managers. Presented in partnership with the Digital Printing Council and the Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association, the 11th annual conference will be held December 6-8, 2009, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dscoop is a cooperative of HP Indigo users and HP. The organization holds a yearly conference that brings together Indigo users from around the world. Next year’s Dscoop conference will be held February 18-20, 2010, at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. Dscoop5 is scheduled to feature more than 90 sessions in business and sales, operations, label and packaging, and partner-solutions sessions, as well as large-format seminars for commercial printers focused on increasing service offerings and profit margins. The organization also offers two monthly webinars for members, which over a range of business-related and technical topics.

The Information Management Institute sponsors a number of conferences throughout the year, both in the US and in Europe. Slated for 2010 are several conferences on the theory of inkjet technology to be held in Arizona and in Barcelona, Spain. The 2010 US conference titles include: Security Printing Conference; Ink Jet Academy: Theory of Ink Jet; Toner Printing Conference; Thermal Printing Conference; and the Ink Jet Printing
Conference. The institute also holds an annual, week-long digital printing summer camp in Carrabassett Valley, Maine.

The National Environmental Health & Safety Conference brings together graphics industry professionals to discuss sustainability and safety issues confronting print providers. The 2008 conference, “Printing for a Sustainable Future,” included in-depth discussions on sustainability strategies and why the “green” movement is important. The 2010 conference will be held March 15-17 in Indianapolis.

The Signage and Graphics Summit brings together top-tier executives from high-volume digital printing, sign, and screenprinting companies for discussions on best practices, new technologies, and business strategies. The 2011 event will be held at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Florida. The event is owned by ST Media Group, parent company to The Big Picture magazine.

Xplor’s Document University is a year-round program from Xplor International and offers instructional classes, webinars, online conferences, social networking opportunities, podcasts, virtual vendor and user technology forums, and an industry certifi cation program.

Additional educational opportunities
Beyond training from manufacturers, trade show seminars, and association conferences, still more training and education opportunities abound. The following are a small sampling of these offerings.

At the three-day CorelDraw Unleashed Boot Camp workshop, “campers” learn the ins and outs of CorelDraw and Corel PhotoPaint. Attendees receive a Boot Camp DVD with clip art, fonts, and software as well as a copy of CorelDraw X4. Held in Cave Creek, Arizona, the camp will take place this fall on October 1-3, November 5-7, and December 10-12.

The Graphic Communication Institute at California Polytechnic State University offers educational programs held throughout the year that cover prepress and print training; graphic arts research; and ink, toner, and substrate testing. Training in project management, quality control, marketing, sales, pricing, and estimating is also offered. Workshops are held on the Cal Poly campus and utilize the school’s state-of-the-art training lab and prepress imaging and press room facilities.

The Institute for Graphics and Imaging hosts a number of conferences, seminars, and custom training programs designed for those in the printing and publishing industries. Recent course titles include “Inkjet Proofing,” “Creating Color Profiles,” “Learn Six Sigma in Printing,” “Boot Camp for Digital Process Control,” and “Variable Data and Advance Personalization.” The organization is based in the Harry V. Quadracci Printing Education and Technology Center on the campus of the Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Prepress Training Solutions offers several courses on software geared toward the graphics industry, including Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator; QuarkXPress; and Enfocus PitStop Professional. Courses are available via an annual, monthly, or single-course subscription.

Last year, the company introduced its VDP Starter Kit, which includes training on converting Microsoft Word labels into Microsoft Excel, data sorting to identify duplicate
records, and a reusable Excel macro to remove empty rows in a spreadsheet. The kit can be accessed online 24/7 for a full year and is available from any computer with
an Internet connection. Custom course development for specific prepress workflows and proprietary software is also available.

The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) has partnered with Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group to produce a video titled, “The Pathway to Prosperity: Choosing a Career in the Graphic Communication Industry.” The nine-minute video provides an entertaining overview of graphic art as a high-tech, fast-paced, modern industry—in stark contrast to the industry of Ben Franklin’s days. The video can be viewed online at: http://jonathanghent.growyourbiz.kodak.com/default.asp?item=2285438.

The Signage Foundation’s first National Signage Research and Education Conference will take place October 13-15 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Held in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati’s College of Business and College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, the event is aimed at sign manufacturers and end users as well as educators, planners, and regulators. The conference will offer three days of topical presentations, studio projects, and breakout sessions on the theme, “Innovative Collaborations for Signage Management in the Visual Environment.” The fee for the conference is $225 for early registration, $295 for general registration, and $50 for students. For registration, contact patty@signagefoundation.org

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