It’s that time of year again, when graphic arts snowbirds flock to the Sunshine State to take in the pastel-hued wonders of South Beach—and learn about the latest developments in graphics and printing. Now in its 35th year, and run by the Printing Association of Florida (PAF), Graphics of the Americas will be held February 25–27, 2010, at the Miami Beach Convention Center in the heart of South Beach.

As one tweet that cropped up in Twitter put it, “LOL - Just got an email from a #GOA2010 speaker ‘All the best from my igloo in the frozen Tundra of Pittsburgh.’ He’s ready for Miami Beach!”

True dat.

The theme of this year’s show is “Take your business to another dimension,” which means, according to GOA President George Ryan, “educating printers about new possible business opportunities.” Some of those opportunities are in new and advanced digital printing applications—the show floor will feature car wrap demos via Mutoh America and demos of a new digital garment printer sponsored by DTG/SWF East. “We also have sessions on going into the business of wide-format, what to do with it, what you need, all the finishing options, and selling and pricing it,” says Ryan.

Graphics of the Americas also has educational sessions on Internet marketing and promotion, designing for the Web, and cross-media design and development. There is even a brace of sessions on social media: “Integrating Social Media into Your Business” and “Internet Marketing & Social Media Strategies on a Shoestring Budget,” the former targeted toward designers, the latter toward printers.

A sampling of some of the more than 70 educational sessions includes:

  • “Profiting from Digital and On-Demand Printing Services” (Howie Fenton)
  • “The Business of Wide Format Printing” (David King)
  • “7 Deadly Sins in Printing Companies” (Steven Schnoll)
  • “The Lean Printing Office” (Craig Press)

And one session intriguingly titled:

  • “Salesperson of the Future” (Peter Winters)

Even after 35 years, Graphics of the Americas continues to evolve. It began as the premier venue for U.S. manufacturers and vendors to interface with the Latin American graphic arts market, a market that has burgeoned and exploded in the past decade, and even today about 40% of show attendees come from Latin America. In the past couple of years, a growing emphasis on the business of printing has been augmented with a focus on the creative side of graphic communications, and the Cre8 seminar sessions are targeted toward designers, and cover both print and Internet design—as well as the integration of both these types of design skills, to help print designers “take their design skill and apply it to Internet design,” says Ryan.

Cre8 sessions cover the waterfront of design strategy and software, from getting the most out of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, and Acrobat, to using XHTML and CSS, to cross-media development. A handful of the Cre8 sessions include:

  • “Optimizing the Publishing Workflow from Design to Print” (Haziel Olivera)
  • “Integrating Social Media into Your Business (Christopher Smith)
  • “Adobe InDesign: Preparing Print Content for Use on the Web” (Chad Chelius)
  • “Search Engine Strategies: Getting Found Online” (Benjamin Rudolph)
  • “What Everyone Needs to Know About Good Design” (John Landis)

Thursday morning’s keynote session, “The Future of Communication: Design and Delivery,” will be presented by August de los Reyes, Principal Director of User Experience for Microsoft Surface—a team that develops new ways for humans to interact with technology. The focus of the talk will be, “How will humans and computers interact with each other in 15 years?” The answers will likely be the stuff of science-fiction—so much of which ends up as science fact sooner or later. My laptop and I are both eagerly looking forward to that session.

One favorite component of Graphics of the Americas is the concurrent Brand Protection Conference, which takes place February 25 and 26. The Brand Protection Conference showcases the latest technologies for thwarting counterfeiters, and producers of phony packaging and dodgy documents. Says Ryan, “There is always something amazingly new that printers can use to protect certain documents.” The Brand Protection Conference highlights the latest developments in label and packaging protection, security printing, and several sessions highlight the problems of—and solutions to—pharmaceutical packaging counterfeiting.

The Brand Protection Conference always culminates in a “shocking demonstration,” a hands-on look at the production of an actual counterfeit document (under controlled circumstances, of course). This year, security printing guru and Brand Protection Conference coordinator Richard Warner will lead a demonstration on Friday morning of the counterfeiting of a wine label from a real winery on Long Island. The session will include a video presentation of the counterfeiting of the label from start to finish—as well as new wine-label security technology that uses embedded DNA markers and bio-signatures. No word on whether wine will be served during the session.

More than 300 exhibitors will be on hand to showcase the latest and greatest in printing technology hardware and software—according to Ryan, “the show floor is filled up,” and registered attendees are already at about last year’s level. So maybe the wine won’t be needed after all; “I’ve found a more positive attitude among printers,” says Ryan, “and we think that will be reflected in the people who come to the show.”

WhatTheyThink will be reporting, blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, and LinkedInning from the show live.

Complete information can be found at