Welcome to the Club
A sourcelist of organizations for print providers.
For print providers operating in the wide-format digital sector, joining a professional organization – either as an individual or as a corporate member – can be valuable on many levels. Membership, as they say, has its privileges and, depending on what group you join, can run the gamut, from educational and certification programs and admission to niche-specific tradeshows, to technical and business support from industry leaders. Some organizations even offer members the ability to help shape legislative and standards decisions made for the industry.
In this era of social networking and LinkedIn, trade organizations have stepped up their activities to remain relevant to members. The result? More bang for your buck when you become a member. For professionals looking to develop their skills and to position their company as an industry leader, trade organizations offer information and connections that online networking typically cannot compete with. Plus, participating in industry associations communicates to your peers and clients that your company is strong and that you are invested in the market.
We’ve compiled the following sourcelist of industry organizations to guide you in determining ways you can get involved, at whatever level you feel is beneficial to your business, in the coming year. Note: For the purposes of this sourcelist, we have not included groups whose sole purpose is to certify a shop’s environmental wellness -- groups such as the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP, www.sgppartnership.org), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI, www.sfiprogram.org), or the Forest Stewardship Council, (FSC, www.fsc.org); we’ll address these groups in a future sourcelist.
A part of the Association for Computing Machinery, ACM SIGGRAPH promotes the generation and dissemination of information on computer graphics and interactive techniques. Members include designers, artists, scientists, researchers and others; its Digital Arts Community is focused on art created on the computer. Members receive discounts on conferences and on products from select tradeshow vendors, and gain access to association proceedings. The association holds two annual conferences, including one in North America (the 2011 event takes places in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in August).
AIGA, the professional association for design, seeks to “advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force.” Founded in 1914, the association has more than 70 chapters throughout the US and its membership is open to professional and associate designers plus students and design faculty. Benefits include access to tools for inspiration, professional resources, education, and more, plus discounts on professional development tools and resources as well as products and services.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI )
ANSI is an organization that oversees the creation, promulgation, and use of thousands of norms and guidelines for businesses in various sector. Its Top Issues Tracking System allows members to monitor ANSI-led technical, standardization and policy-level initiatives in six areas of focus: energy, global supply chain, horizontal considerations, sustainability, technology, and workforce. It also participates in the accreditation of programs that assess conformance to standards—including globally recognized cross-sector programs such as the ISO 9000 (quality) and ISO 14000 (environmental) management systems. Membership in ANSI provides access to information and business intelligence, discounts on many products and services, and more.
Association of Imaging Executives (AIE)
A division of PMA, the nonprofit AIE (formerly the Association of Professional Color Imagers) focuses on efficient operations, profitable retail strategies, and ongoing professional development for photo-imaging executives. The organization offers business services like newsletters, podcasts, and a grassroots PR network as well as educational programs, including high-level seminars and workshops, leadership training, and networking.
A voluntary standards-developing organization, ASTM (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) comprises more than 30,000 individual and corporate members from more than 120 countries, working through 141 technical standards-writing committees. Some 12,000 ASTM standards are used in industries around the world – including by wide format and digital inkjet print providers – to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence. It also offers technical training programs for industry and government, as well as proficiency testing, interlaboratory crosscheck programs, and newly initiated certification programs.
Members of the standards association CIP4 (Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress) participate in focused working groups to define future versions of JDF (Job Definition Format) and to study user requirements. Comprised of end users, vendors, and consultants in the print-communications and graphic-arts industry, CIP4 offers members access to JDF documents, archives, software developing kits and testing systems, as well as networking opportunities and user case studies.
Digital Solutions Cooperative (Dscoop)
A user-driven community of HP Indigo and Scitex owners and their sales, marketing, and production staffs, Dscoop provides its members the platform, infrastructure, and access to experts that facilitates interaction among the community. Its Dscoop annual conference as well as on-going webinars, discussion forums, and quarterly newsletters address issues specific to users of HP Graphic Arts products.
Digital Imaging Marketing Association (DIMA)
A division of the Photo Marketing Association, DIMA conducts national and regional conferences that include sessions on digital imaging. DIMA tracks the market through research studies, shares success stories, and helps members stay up-to-date on the technology front.
Federation of Screen and Digital Printers Association (FESPA)
A federation of 33 national trade associations, FESPA promotes digital imaging and screen printing by offering members access to market data and analysis, online and in-person education and training conferences, workshops, and webinars, as well as technical support and advice and a variety of publications. Its global exhibition for screen and digital printers and its FESPA Digital exhibition take place in alternate years, in Europe. Recently, the organization has added shows in India, Thailand, and Mexico. In countries where there is no national association affiliated with FESPA, the print provider can join FESPA independently.
Global Imaging and Graphics Association
This invitation-only organization is comprised of owners and majority shareholders from private companies around the world who share a common interest in exchanging ideas and influencing the technology, marketing and materials used in large format digital printing. Giga members meet twice a year at an industry Expo or company visit.
International Color Consortium (ICC)
Established by eight graphics industry vendors and now comprised of nearly 60 member companies, ICC’s distinct working groups collaborate to update and promote the standardization and evolution of an open, vendor-neutral, cross-platform color-management system architecture and components. Members can participate in ongoing development of the ICC profile specification, network with renowned color scientists, and gain exposure through the organization’s website.
IDEAlliance merged with the Association of Graphic Solutions Providers (IPA) in 2010, consolidating the knowledge and experience of more than 5500 professionals from 500 companies in the print and graphic communications industries. The unified organization comprises committees, networking, and working groups working collaboratively to develop specifications, standards, technical guidelines, tools, and certification programs for the digital supply chain. IDEAlliance members receive access to an online knowledge center, webinars, conferences, magazine, special reports, technical research, as well as standards and specifications.
Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI)
A trade association whose more than 2000 member companies represent the international specialty fabric marketplace, IFAI offers industry information, networking opportunities, business service discounts, and support for niche-specific issues. Members' products span the entire spectrum of the specialty fabrics industry, from fiber and fabric suppliers to manufacturers of end products, equipment, and hardware. Its proprietary events include IFAI Expo Americas, a sister show in Asia, a Tent Expo, and various conferences and training programs.
International Reprographic Association (IRgA)
Founded to support shops who meet the large-format document reproduction needs of architectural, engineering, and construction/manufacturing firms, its benefits include a registration discount on the annual convention and trade show; subscriptions to News Digest and Repro Report; access to webinars, informational archives, discussion forums and more. The association recently announced that its 2011 show will be co-located with the ISA Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, April 27-30.
International Sign Association (ISA)
ISA members represent manufacturers, users, and suppliers of on-premise signs and sign products. Its annual conference and trade show features educational sessions, equipment, and materials primarily related to large-format graphics. Benefits include legal assistance and government advocacy; customizable health insurance; reduced shipping costs; and discounts on credit card processing fees, business insurance policies, trade shows, publications, and training.
Chartered in 1933, NAPL (formerly the National Association for Printing Leadership) is the trade association for excellence in graphic-communications management. It develops conferences, periodicals, consulting, and economic data and analysis for members.
National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP)
NAPP, formed in 1998, is an association for Adobe Photoshop education, training, and news. It is led by Photoshop experts, authors, consultants, trainers, and educators. Members receive Photoshop User magazine, plus access to online support community, tutorials, discounts on hardware and software, and a personal online portfolio on the site.
National Association of Quick Printers (NAQP)
Part of the NAPL Network, this trade association for quick print and small commercial print providers also counts among its members graphic-arts companies, educational organizations, and supplier firms. In conjunction with NAPL, the association offers conferences, research, programs, products, seminars, and discounts from suppliers and consultants.
Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA)
The OAAA is the trade association for the outdoor advertising industry. In addition to online resources, including legislative, marketing, and creative information, the organization sponsors several awards programs. While many members are owners/operators of billboards and other outdoor media space, the association also includes associate members who are suppliers of services or products to the outdoor industry.
PMA, the Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations (formerly the Photo Marketing Association), is an 85-year-old professional organization that helps the worldwide photo imaging community achieve business success and adapt to new technologies. Member benefits include access to marketing research and forums as well as PMA Magazine, plus 1:1 consulting on regulatory activities, use of royalty-free PMA photography, a marketing toolkit with ready-made ad campaigns, and more. The association comprises seven divisions, including DIMA and AIE (see separate listings); it will hold it annual PMA Convention and Tradeshow in Las Vegas in September 2011.
Member benefits for this association representing the marketing at-retail industry include access to its business directory, library of publications and research reports, and educational programs, as well as discounts on goods and services. Formerly the Point of Purchase Advertising Institute, the group now sponsors a variety of education events and programs.
PODi—the Digital Printing Initiative
PODi is a consortium whose members represent all facets of the digital printing industry, including print and marketing service providers, enterprise marketers, and manufacturers of software and hardware systems. Its programs and services aim to drive demand for marketing applications powered by digital print and it helps members integrate digital technologies into their marketing, IT and management strategies. Benefits include access to the group’s case-study database, webinars, and reports, as well as sales training tools and discounted registration for the AppForum conference.
Printing Industries of America (PIA)
Created from a merger of the former Printing Industries of America and the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF) in 2008, the new Printing Industries of America publishes Printing Industries of America: the Magazine and offers members consulting services, market research, educational opportunities, and technical resources.
Professional Decal Application Alliance (PDAA)
Founded in 1976 to raise the visibility and professionalism of the graphics-application industry, PDAA provides graphics producers with direct access to qualified, certified installers nationwide. Now part of SGIA, the Alliance provides members with access to the PDAA Information Network, a free support line, unlimited business referrals, energy and shipping discounts, and more. The group also offers a certification program.
Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA)
The international association of screen printing, digital printing, embroidery, sublimation, and pad printing provides publications, industry surveys, management resources, government safety issues, and information about the market. It hosts the annual SGIA Expo for companies servicing the digital, screen, and specialty printing markets and, in 2010, acquired the Professional Decal Application Association (PDAA, see above).
Society of Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD)
SEGD is an international association of environmental graphic designers – including graphic, architectural, interior, landscape, and industrial design – concerned with the visual aspects of wayfinding, communicating identity and information, and shaping the idea of place. Its members receive opportunities for regional and international networking, marketing, and recognition; access to the organization’s job bank; discounted technical information and educational resources and more.
United States Sign Council (USSC)
An association of independent sign shops and suppliers, USSC conducts seminars and training workshops; hosts trade shows and exhibits of new sign technology; publishes technical and professional manuals; provides members and nonmembers with current information concerning industry trends, products, and practices; and is an active participant in issues involving sign legislation, zoning, and land-use planning. Its annual event, Sign World International, takes place in Atlantic City in December.
Xplor is a professional association for those involved in the design, production, and distribution of variable-data documents, ranging from high volumes of statements, bills, insurance policies, and personalized direct mail to very customized marketing materials. Benefits include online educational courses, access to the organization’s career center, discounts on other educational opportunities, and invitations to exclusive networking events.