Gone are the days when you could assess color solely by eye, or depend only on ink density to ascertain color quality. It gets even more complicated when you consider the number of print jobs that include both offset and digital (toner, inkjet, wide format), or even flexo. Or they have parts produced by different vendors that need to match at final assembly.

The standards organizations have been busy updating standards that help with better color management processes, including ISO 17972-1 that formalized CxF as the standard for color data exchange, and ISO 13655 for the “M” series of settings that standardize illumination conditions where optical brightening agents are used in substrates.

Both color measurement instruments and process/quality control software have also made big strides.

With all of these developments, and more, it is truly now possible to print to the numbers and more consistently hit color targets, regardless of the printing technology you are using.

If any of this is news to you or if you feel that your color knowledge needs a boost, or you just want to keep up with the latest color management trends, then the Color Conference is for you. Scheduled for 3-6 December in Phoenix, this gathering of several hundred design professionals, brand managers, packaging specialists, printers, consultants, suppliers to the industry and new media specialists has changed over the years from what you might lovingly categorize as a gathering of color geeks to a conference that addresses a much broader audience, from color novices to the best experts in the industry.

This year, WhatTheyThink is pleased to be a media partner for the Color Conference, a Printing Industries of America even managed by Julie Shaffer, Vice President, Education and Marketing Strategies. We’ll be there soaking up the knowledge and doing video interviews with key players. “In the past few years,” Shaffer says, “we have had a growing number of brand owners, print production managers, and others who just want things to work right, join us at the conference. We have shifted the content to talk to everyone for whom color matters. And we are also broadening the content to cover color management of various types of media, including video, that will be valuable to printers as they work to control color in a shifting landscape.”

The line-up of speakers is impressive, including Kristy Cameron, Creative Manager of Brand Expression for Starbucks.  I’ve heard her speak before, and she is well worth listening to! Other industry favorites include Sappi’s Daniel Dejan, Don Hutcheson, Dave Hunter, Brian Lawler of Cal Poly, Dr. Abhay Sharma of Ryerson, Dr. Mark Bohan of Heidelberg and John Seymour. You can see the full – and very impressive – array of speakers here.

Among important topics to be covered are the state of standards, fixed color palette or extended color gamut printing, and a variety of how-to sessions from profiling and calibration to how to properly measure and view color. You’ll also hear how the city of Union City CA undertook a complex branding project, presented by Steve Decker, President of Zooka Creative, who partnered with the city to roll out a new brand. You can tailor your experience by choosing sessions from a variety of tracks, or focus in on a single track.

“To get the most out of the conference, come a day early,” Shaffer recommends. “come a day early and attend Don Hutcheson’s pre-conference session, Color Management—an Essential Primer. We are offering this pre-conference session free to all attendees in order to provide a color management foundation for people who are getting into prepress, or are in prepress and need to learn more, or folks that are intimidated by color management. This pre-conference session is a great lead-in to the Color Management How-To track that will be conducted over two days of the conference.”

Shaffer points out that about 40% of attendees are people that have attended the conference in the past. “We sometimes forget that there are new people getting into color management every day,” she says, “and color management is much more than just pushing a button. We want to provide the kind of information that attendees can take back and put into immediate practice, regardless of their color knowledge level, and we think this year’s conference agenda does a fabulous job of meeting that objective.”

Don’t miss this important conference. We are certain that the knowledge you will gain from participating will more than pay for the conference fee. Register today, and we’ll look forward to seeing you there!