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WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.comPrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow. 

Displaying 1-99 of 4131 articles

Shipments: We Told You

Published May 14, 2021

Last month, we said that “shipments can only get better from here”—and we were right. March shipments roared back from a historical low of $6.39 billion in February to $7.44 billion in March, the second best March in the past five years.

Around the Web: Tax Trouble. Corona Cards. Vampire Vaccination. Graphene Garment. Teflon Textiles. Measuring Micturition. Ephemeral Exhibits. New Notebooks. Wing Worries.

Published May 14, 2021

The IRS’s broken printer problem. A coronavirus-themed pack of Tarot cards. Get vaxxed at Dracula’s castle. Thermally regulated jeans, thanks to graphene. A Teflon coating for textiles. Monitor your hydration with the Pantone Pee Chart. The Museum of Plastic is going to be recycled. A jumpsuit for the “new normal.” The great chiken wing crisis. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly post-vaccination miscellany.

Focus on Innovation: How HP Engineers, Chemists, and Architects Create

Published May 14, 2021

That’s why they’re committed—in every department from engineering to chemistry—to ensure that their solutions grow with their customers over time. So how does HP do it?

Color Calibration on the HP Indigo 100K Digital Press

Published May 12, 2021

Basil Verdene, Color Group Manager for HP Indigo, talks about the advanced color management capabilities of the HP Indigo 100K Digital Press, including its ability to manage color while printing. Learn more about color management on the HP Indigo 100K in this video sponsored by HP Indigo.

Around the Web: Freeway Font. Pollution Printing. G-Man Grammar. Safety Subscription. Car Conference. Novel Noodles. Carp Carrier. Tossing Trousers.

Published May 7, 2021

A new highway sign typeface. A cybersecurity expert’s adventures in book publishing. Air Ink makes ink out of carbon emissions. Are you cheugy? Replacing ads on disused phone booths with art. A subscription-based motorcycle safety vest. The CIA has a grammar stylebook. An Ohio senator in a Zoom meeting tries to hide that he’s driving. The latest in pasta technology can save on packaging waste. An attaché case for live fish. Today is No Pants Day—and for a good cause. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: Top Investments

Published May 5, 2021

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, one-fourth of print businesses have no major investment plans for 2021.

Around the Web: Flammable. Typo Tamer. Documenting Distancing. Pantone Pilsner. Criminal Codes. Terrific Tube. Lying Landscape. Peel Portraits. Tomato Toppling. Demented Documentary.

Published April 30, 2021

Print newspapers will survive—if only to light barbecues. A tribute to forgotten inventor Bette Nesmith. A photographer is documenting COVID signage for posterity. Beer can designs using the Pantone color the beer most closely matches. A man is banned from carrying “loose QR codes.” SVA students design post-pandemic New Yorker magazine covers. A new toothpaste tube lets you extract all the toothpaste. Coming soon: deepfake satellite imagery. Two words: “Banana artist.” Citizen Kane is no longer “100% Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. When Dr. Demento ruled radio. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.

Newspaper Publishing Employees—2010–2018

Published April 30, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 264,833 employees in NAICS 51111 (Newspaper Publishing). By 2018, employees had decreased to 153,060. In macro news, Q1 GDP was up 6.4%.

Enhanced Productivity Mode (EPM) with HP Indigo Explained

Published April 28, 2021

Alon Gazit, VP of R&D at HP Indigo, brings us to the HP Indigo 100K lab to talk about the benefits of using just three colors vs. CMYK when using Enhanced Productivity Mode (EPM) on the HP Indigo 100K Digital Press. EPM can increase productivity by 33% vs. printing in CMYK. Learn more about this approach in this video sponsored by HP Indigo.

Around the Web: Alien Aviation. Selling Snoop. Additive Abode. Lab Lumber. Fashion Fission. ’Ammer Artist. Problematic Placement. Propitious Potable. Fish Feud. McGoohan Mania.

Published April 23, 2021

We flew a helicopter on Mars! Has the pandemic changed book publishing, part the infinity. Now being shown: a 3D-printed house. Could lab-grown wood be the future of furniture? “Could the solution to fashion pollution be…tiny nuclear reactors?” Turning plastic back into oil. An artist who “draws” portraits by smashing glass with a hammer. Digitally adding product placement to classic films. Alton Brown on the history of the gin and tonic. “The crime-ridden global market for eel.” The new number two on our wish list: action figures for the 1967 TV show The Prisoner. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.

Shipments: They Can Only Get Better from Here

Published April 23, 2021

We didn’t kick off 2021 very auspiciously, with January printing shipments coming in at $6.57 billion, down from December 2020’s $7.17 billion, and then a further drop in February to $6.34 billion.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: Top Challenges

Published April 21, 2021

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, recovering business lost to COVID and national economic conditions dominated printers’ top challenges—but traditional challenges will gain prominence post-COVID.

Golan Landsberg on the New HP Indigo LEPX Architecture

Published April 21, 2021

Golan Landsberg, R&D Director, Future Products Platform at HP Indigo, provides a technical overview of the new HP Indigo LEPX architecture and "why it's possible to print faster with Indigo's LEPX technology" in this tech talk video sponsored by HP.

Publishing Employees—2010–2018

Published April 16, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 907,152 employees in NAICS 511 (Publishing Industries—except Internet). By 2018, employees had increased to 1,015,946. In macro news, retail sales were up 9.8% in March.

Around the Web: Google Gutenberg. Bye-Bye-Broadband? Record Recollection. License Litigation. Quantum Quire. Paraboloid Pringles. Clever Cooling. Runaway Rabbit.

Published April 16, 2021

Google’s Gutenberg Doodle perpetuates a sartorial anachronism. 5G may let you ditch wired broadband. A deluxe, expensive collection of Philip K. Dick stories. Remembering the Columbia Record Club. The contentious free-speech history of license plates. Mind-blowing paper cutting and folding. The mathematics of Pringles chips. Alexa can now share songs. This summer, instead of A/C, try the Sensu Punkah. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s virtual miscellany.

Differentiate With Direct Mail - Appealing to all the Senses

Published April 16, 2021

Thriving in the print industry isn’t just about what you can do, but how you can do it even better. Delivering high-quality prints is a start, but standing out requires going the extra mile. And that means kicking creativity up a notch with enhanced, high-value direct mailers that appeal to consumers on a multi-sensory level. In fact, stimulating consumer senses has been proven to increase response rates, brand awareness and emotional bonds to products

A Tour of the HP Indigo V12 Lab

Published April 14, 2021

Maya Poleg and Roi Liraz from the HP Indigo team take us on a behind the scenes tour of the HP Indigo V12 Digital Press R&D lab in this video sponsored by HP Inc. The first in a series of short videos which bring to light HP Indigo technology advancements, advantages, and an insider’s view from Indigo’s top technology experts.

Profits: Back to the Tale of Two Cities

Published April 9, 2021

We’ve long been calling it “a tale of two cities”—large printers and small/mid-size printers and the profitability gap between them. The pandemic interrupted this ongoing narrative temporarily, but back in Q3 2020, we started to return to normal, at least in terms of industry profits trends, which continued into Q4.

Around the Web: Graphene Gear. Sweater Spectrum. Mad Memories. Mysterious Muons. Flipboard Fans. Vexing Vehicles. Hobby History. Restaurant Replicas. Poultry Pummeling. Ketchup Crisis.

Published April 9, 2021

Graphene-enhanced shoes and concrete—it’s a bad time to be a mob informant. Ralph Lauren aims to make cotton less water-intensive. A chart of every color cardigan worn by Mister Rogers. Soap products whose packaging is itself soap. A wall-mounted E Ink display for newspapers. A video history of Mad Magazine. A Fermilab particle experiment may completely upend our understanding of the universe. Install old-time train station flipboard signage in your home. The electric vehicle charging situation is a nightmare. A Brooklyn steakhouse partners with Madame Tussaud’s to help enforce social distancing. Can you cook a chicken by slapping it? The latest national crisis: a ketchup shortage. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s cinnamon shrimp tail-flavored miscellany.

Sabine Geldermann Previews Next Month’s virtual.drupa

Published April 8, 2021

Kelley Holmes talks to drupa and Messe Düsseldorf’s Sabine Geldermann, about this month’s virtual.drupa, which currently has 180 exhibitors from 28 countries, and several major event partners. Virtual.drupa also features keynote speakers and a robust conference program.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: 2020 Profits

Published April 7, 2021

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, print businesses reported a -9.1% decline in profits from 2019 to 2020.

Pre- and Postpress Employees—2010–2018

Published March 26, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 32,906 employees in NAICS 32312 (Support Activities for Printing). By 2018, employees had declined to 22,855. In macro news, Q4 2020 GDP was revised up.

Around the Web: Damaging Deadlines. Sartorial Smarts. Crazy Crypto. Green Gabbing. Turing Tribute. Façade Fissure. Creepy Craft. Star Sewing. New Noodles.

Published March 26, 2021

How outsourcing newspaper printing is helping kill local journalism. Smart clothing is evolving. John Cleese twits the NFT fad. A new study suggests that turning off your camera on a Zoom call may be more environmentally friendly. The UK’s new £50 note will honor Alan Turing. A 3D mural “opens up” a Florence art museum. They Might Be Giants launch hardcover book/CD combo. Realistic handblown glass spiders. Light-up constellation embroidery. Pasta technology evolves. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s cinnamon shrimp tail-flavored miscellany.

The Power of Perseverance - HP's Colorful Road to Brilliant Ink

Published March 25, 2021

HP has spent the past four decades not simply investing in inkjet ink research and development but perfecting it. Its five world-class teams of international chemists have worked to create custom inks for a range of different markets. They’ve partnered closely with hardware and writing systems engineers to develop the best integrated technology for its inkjet devices. In this Tech Talk, HP R&D Chemist Saba Lotfizadeh shares stories of the significant challenges and exciting breakthroughs in ink development that enable printing on a wide range of media.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: Anticipated 2021 Jobs/Orders

Published March 24, 2021

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, print businesses expect print industry jobs/orders to rebound +9.0% from 2020 to 2021.

Around the Web: More Fungible Fun. Denim Denial. Guilty Garamond. Zoom Zapper. Tattoo Technology. COVID Concert. Gallbladder Gambling. Culinary Compulsion. Legume Limo.

Published March 19, 2021

Charmin’s (oy) toilet-paper themed NFTPs. The environmental impact of jeans. Will graphene save us from the pandemic? The DC Circuit Court cancels the typeface Garamond. Social and mobile media-themed classic artworks. A new web widget that gives you excuses to exit a Zoom meeting. Light-emitting OLED tattoos. Yo-Yo Ma performs at his vaccination site. Doctors get in trouble for “Guess the weight of this organ” Instagram posts. Precision cutting boards for obsessive chefs. The Planters NUTmobile is looking for drivers. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s unfortunately not canceled miscellany.

Graphic Arts Employment—February 2021

Published March 19, 2021

In February 2021, all printing employment is down -0.5% from January, production employment down -0.4%, and non-production printing employment down -0.8%.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: 2020 Jobs/Orders

Published March 17, 2021

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, the average number of jobs decreased -10.8% from 2019 to 2020.

Around the Web: Fungible Fanatics. Cotton Conundrum. Clever Corsets. Screen Surfeit. Capricious Cartography. Tent Trumpeting. Healthy Handle. Trial Terror. Munster Meteorology.

Published March 12, 2021

A JPG file sells for $69 million, for some reason. Cotton and polyester have their environmental downsides—but neither is going away any time soon. A new company converts discarded sneakers into corsets. A new laptop prototype has seven screens. How to fool AI using “typographic attack.” A non-existent town on a map briefly becomes real. A high school band practices in individual tents. A self-disinfecting door handle. A Zoom assault trial reveals that the defendant is actually in the same house as the alleged victim. Grampa Munster once did a real weathercast. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s non-fungible miscellany.

Book Printing Employees—2010–2018

Published March 12, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 28,935 employees in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing Establishments). By 2018, employees had declined to 21,976. In macro news, inflation was soft in February.

Printing 2021 Quick Look: Anticipated 2021 Revenues

Published March 10, 2021

According to data from our recently published Printing Outlook 2021 special report, print businesses expect print industry revenues to rebound +9.1% from 2020 to 2021.

January Printing Shipments—They Can Only Get Better from Here

Published March 5, 2021

We kicked off 2021 inauspiciously with January printing shipments coming in at $6.61 billion, down from 2020’s $7.17 billion. It's the worst January in at least the last five years, but already things are boding well for the rest of 2021.

Around the Web: Cephalopod Selfie. Locked Letters. Evolving Expression. Silly Surgeon. Traumatic Toy. Touch Termination. Myopia Mask. Titanic Television. Plush Paintings.

Published March 5, 2021

An octopus’ selfie—but, unfairly, not the octopus—won a photography award. Using X-ray microtomography to read secret letters. Videoconferencing is changing American Sign Language. A plastic surgeon joins a Zoom call—while in the middle of an operation. Fisher Price’s My First Home Office for preschoolers is perhaps a sign of the apocalypse. Holographic keypads for touchless devices. A face mask specifically designed to prevent fogging. A $400K television that folds down into the floor. Classic works of art rendered in fur.  All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.

Around the Web: Lockdown Lyrics. Poet Praise. Sneaker Snafu. Tinseltown Typing. Expensive Ephemera. Art Aging. Prying Pixels. Picturephone Promo. Transdermal Transponder. Busy Beaver.

Published February 26, 2021

The musical British family who wittily chronicle lockdown life. Marking the bicentenary of John Keats’ death. Adidas seeks to ditch its acquired Reebok brand. “Hot typewriter action” scenes from top movies. The booming market for “nonfungible tokens”—digital art, ephemera, and media. An oil painter who specializes in lenticular art. The “spy pixels” in email messages that track you. A promotional film for 1964’s pre-Zoom Picturephone, a commercial dud. Why “Zoom fatigue” is a real thing. The aptly named DangerousThings lets you inject chips and sensors into your body, for some reason. A “rescue beaver” is compelled to dam up open spaces—indoors. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s Martian miscellany.

Commercial Screen Printing Employees—2010–2018

Published February 26, 2021

In 2010, there were 57,674 employees working in US screen printing establishments (NAICS 323113). By 2018, that number had increased +12.4% to 64,840. In macro news, seven “recovery indicators” for parts of the economy most acutely impacted by the pandemic.

December Printing Shipments—One Last Unexpected Twist for 2020

Published February 19, 2021

In December 2020, in one last, end-of-the-year rally, printing shipments grew from $7.0 billion to $7.17 billion.  

Around the Web: Mars Meeting. More Monoliths! Wicked Wheels. Safe Socializing. Modular Mask. Vegan Vestments. Ovine Ovation. Carbon Conundra. Textile Traffic. Saloon Sounds. Audio Oracle. King Cat.

Published February 19, 2021

A new monolith appears—briefly—in Congo. A guy replaces his bicycle wheels with giant sawmill blades. The latest in “mask tech”: the egg mask. First, they came for the silkworms—and now…the sheep? Sheep Inc. says one key to carbon sequestration is…wait for it…sheep. Some other potential solutions for dealing with carbon and carbon dioxide. Textile and apparel imports are on the decline. A website lets you simulate the ambiance of your favorite bar. RIP Rupert Neve: the inventor of the mixing console. A housecat joins “Godzilla vs. Kong” and the related carnage. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s carbon-heavy miscellany.

Around the Web: Cat Court. Color Creation. Sustainable Suds. Apt Appliances. ’Acked Aquifer. Manufactured Meat.

Published February 12, 2021

A Texas attorney tries to prove he is not a cat. A brand-new shade of blue is now available for painting. A new business makes sustainable laundry detergent. A handy visual aid to help you determine which appliance is best for which use. A water treatment plant gets hacked—with almost disastrous results. 3D-printed steaks. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s kitten filter miscellany.

Commercial Printing Employees (Less Screen and Books)—2010–2018

Published February 12, 2021

In 2010, there were 380,107 employees working in US establishments in NAICS 323111 (Commercial Printing–Except Screen and Books). By 2018, that number had declined -13.5% to 328,845. In macro news, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.3% in January, or 1.4% over the last 12 months.

EFI’s Jeff Jacobson on the New Way of Doing Business

Published February 9, 2021

Jeff Jacobson, CEO of EFI, talks to Kelley Holmes about some of the bright spots for EFI in 2020, and expands upon his EFI Engage keynote in which he discusses how the pandemic has affected the way EFI engages with its customers, and how the way we do business has changed.

Around the Web: Spamming Spinach. Novel Novel. Glorious Graphene. Sleeping Sacks. Gargoyles Galore. Sawing Celebration. Calculating Carsey. Weird Waking. Amish Auto. Disappearing Doll.

Published February 5, 2021

Spinach can now send emails. A novel only uses the words spoken by Ophelia in Hamlet. More graphene news! Recycling potato chip bags into sleeping bags for the homeless. Colgate introduces new aluminum toothbrush with replaceable heads. The origin of gargoyles. 100 years of the “sawing a woman in half” trick. “A Lego white noise” playlist. A “smart toilet seat” for measuring vital signs. A teen, in a coma since March 1, 2020, is about to wake up to a strange new world. Attaching buggy wheels to a Dodge Challenger, for some reason. Texas issues an Amber Alert for Chucky from “Child’s Play.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s emailing vegetable miscellany.

Q3 2020 Profits—Back on Track…Sort Of

Published February 5, 2021

Annualized printing industry profits for Q3 2020 rose from -$1.92 billion to -$1.19 billion. That’s still really low, but at least it’s headed back toward positive territory.

Behind the Scenes with HP PageWide

Published February 1, 2021

HP has spent the past four decades not simply investing in inkjet research and development but perfecting it. Hear from subject matter experts on timely topics, including a customer spotlight on the new HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD.

Around the Web: Color Quest. STEM Stamps. Cool Codes. Retro Railroad. Clothing Computations. Tea Tints. Sleepless Science. Blade Becalming. Missing Monarchy. Disgusting Dessert. Pasta Passion.

Published January 29, 2021

In search of the original “Apple Beige.” The USPS launches Star Wars stamps to promote STEM learning. How COVID made QR codes cool. A Chinese railroad was derailed when Adobe killed Flash. A man quantifies his wardrobe. Beautiful tea bag art. First Night Effect: why it’s hard to sleep in a strange place. “Chinese Knife Massage.” Gender-neural playing cards. “Everything bagel-flavored ice cream.” Perfect for Valentine’s day: pink, candy-flavored mac and cheese. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s stock shorting miscellany.

Commercial Printing Employees—2010–2018

Published January 29, 2021

In 2010, there were 499,622 employees working in US establishments in NAICS 323. By 2018, that number had declined -12.2% to 438,516. In macro news, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.0% in Q4 2020.

Graphic Arts Employment—December 2020

Published January 22, 2021

In December 2020, all printing employment was up +0.7% from November, production employment up +0.1%, and non-production printing employment up +1.9%. So, basically, a holding pattern—although it’s nice that there are no negative numbers…for almost everyone.

Around the Web: Foodie Franklin. Typo Typography. Monospaced Menace. Dense Darkness. Velcro Volume. Visible Vermeer. Tech Toys.

Published January 22, 2021

Ben Franklin introduced tofu to the US. A new font designed to facilitate proofreading. Comic Sans…Monospaced! Inside the blackest room. Inventors develop a quieter Velcro. Journey inside an amazingly high-res scan of a classic painting. Fisher Price’s “new” retro gadget toys. A van-based office pod for the work-from-anywhere crowd. Holographic chocolate. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s winter miscellany.

US Copy Center Establishments—2010–2018

Published January 15, 2021

In 2010, there were 6,026 establishments in NAICS 561439 (Business Service Centers [Including Copy Shops]). By 2018, that number had declined to 5,305. In macro news, weekly initial unemployment claims were at 965,000, an increase of 181,000 from the previous week.

Around the Web: Fungal Fashion. Crustacean Craze. Plague Prescriptions. Can Conundrum. Pharmaceutical Favors. Pig Painting. Nacho Narrative. Mesmerized Mantises.

Published January 15, 2021

2020 was the “year of the mushroom,” apparently—and lobsters, too. A 16th-century doctor’s plague prevention manual is relevant to COVID. The company out to replace plastic packaging with metal. A collection of the weird swag pharmaceutical reps used to give to doctors. Researchers recently unearthed the oldest painting of an animal. Balloon-based pizza delivery. The history of nachos. Praying mantises watch TV. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s New Year’s miscellany.

Around the Web: Picky Preview. Green Gatsby? Correcting Coinage. Programmed Poetry. Programmed Pictures. Cultural Coupon. Satellite Solution. Priapic Programming. Barf Burger. “Chicken Chamber.”

Published January 8, 2021

An honest preview of the year to come. The Great Gatsby is now in the public domain—and there is already clamoring for a Muppets version. A new H.G. commemorative coin has a couple of errors. Google’s Verse By Verse uses AI to help us write a poem. DALL·E uses AI to generate images from text prompts. An oral history of Bed Bath and Beyond’s big blue coupon. The origin of the Pez dispenser. The AR version of the New York Times crossword. An often hysterical mashup of North By Northwest and Star Wars. Denmark’s…bizarre idea for a children’s cartoon. McDonald’s China launched a Spam and Oreo burger, for reasons passing understanding. KFC has a combination game console/chicken warmer. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s New Year’s miscellany.

November Printing Shipments—It Was Nice While It Lasted

Published January 8, 2021

In November 2020, after rising for five straight months, printing shipments plunged from $7.63 billion to $7.0 billion.

Stationery Product Manufacturing Establishments—2012–2018

Published December 18, 2020

In 2010, there were 496 establishments in NAICS 32223 (Stationery Product Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined to 359. In macro news, retail sales for November took a dip.

Around the Web: Fashionable Fit. Glorious Graphene! Printed Pollen. Code Creator. Plastic Pets. Quantifying Quotes. Kitten Concert. Machinery Making Modern Music. Festive Fire.

Published December 18, 2020

Amazon launches made-to-measure T-shirts. 3D printing with graphene. 3D printing pollen grains. Checking in with the inventor of the QR code. Are robot pets a solution for COVID-induced loneliness? A “find the fake written language” visual test.” A European map of different forms of quotation marks. The dispute over Cap’n Crunch’s rank. Sax kittens. ELECTRONICOS FANTASTiCOS! Poems based on A Christmas Carol. Replace the Yule Log with this Dumpster fire video. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s blizzard of miscellaneous items.

The New Canon imagePRESS C10010VP Digital Press

Published December 15, 2020

Canon’s Matthew Poliniak talks about the new Canon imagePRESS C10010VP digital press, which features enhanced media handling capabilities. The imagePRESS C10010VP can handle media up to 400 gsm and also supports running on synthetic media, allowing you to offer new and customized applications to customers.

October Printing Shipments—The "Best" October in Five Years?

Published December 11, 2020

In October 2020, printing shipments rose to $7.63 billion—the fifth straight month of increasing shipments, as the industry rebound from the depths of the spring continues.  

Around the Web: Current Color. Word Weary. Jarring Jargon. Curtailed Catalog. Bicycling Bookseller. Expanding Everest.

Published December 11, 2020

Pantone announces its color(s) for 2021. Various dictionaries announce their “words of the year.” A lexicon of annoying marketing buzzwords. Sigh: IKEA discontinues its print catalog. The IOC adds breakdancing to the 2024 Olympic Games. Get books delivered the same day by bicycle (offer only available in Milan). Know your US states—or lack thereof. Mt. Everest gets bigger. The Immortal Bard gets vaccinated. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s continuing to get into the seasonal sprit miscellany.

Other Paperboard Container Manufacturing Establishments—2012–2018

Published December 4, 2020

In 2012, there were 348 establishments in NAICS 322219 (Other Paperboard Container Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined to 290. In macro news, highlights (if you want to call them that) from the most recent Federal Reserve “Beige Book.”

Around the Web: Electronic Epidermis. Plunging Profits. Lovely Landscapes. Monolith Mystery. Ersatz Ebenezer. Festively Financial. Simulated Santa. Merry Mask.

Published December 4, 2020

Why get a smartwatch or some other wearable when you can get electronic skin? Global fashion industry profits are expected to plummet precipitously this year. Winners of this year’s International Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards. One word: monolith. Theaters get creative in staging “A Christmas Carol.” Gift ideas for designers and type lovers. A bank turns its building into an Advent calendar. Good grief: Zoom Santa. Get your Santa mask! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s slowly getting into the seasonal sprit miscellany.

Paper Bag and Coated and Treated Paper Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2018

Published November 20, 2020

In 2010, there were 825 establishments in NAICS 32222 (Paper Bag and Coated and Treated Paper Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined to 725, despite a spurt of growth in 2012. In macro news, initial unemployment claims were 742,000, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week's revised level. 

Around the Web: Fabric Felony. Cinematic Simoleons. Top Technologies. Glorious Graphene. Foul Fiction. Prescient Painting? Curious Cannonballs. Calligraphic Colognes. Baffling Block. Turkey Toque.

Published November 20, 2020

The knitwear industry is particularly susceptible to money laundering. Movie money looks pretty genuine—but it shouldn’t look too real. Graphene! The annual Bulwer-Lytton Awards. Does a 19th-century Austrian painting depict a smartphone? It’s one of the most iconic war photographs ever—but was it staged? Colognes that smell like ink. Blow your mind with the "Block Universe Theory." All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s wrecking ball miscellany.

Around the Web: Fungal Fashion. Connected Clothing. Fision Fitting. Green Graphics. Maddening Mystery. Eel Economics. Piano Producer. Geyser Gourmets. Marvelous Mammals.

Published November 13, 2020

Two words: mushroom leather. Sustainable wipes. Fashion meets the Internet of Things, for some reason. German e-commerce company acquires body scanning technology developer. Coroplast campaign signs can and should be recycled. The world’s most difficult murder mystery/puzzle—“Cain’s Jawbone”—is solved for only the third time in almost 90 years. The eel as a unit of currency in Medieval Britain. Nannette Streicher, a “mechanical wunderkind,” was an 18th-/19-century piano builder who made Beethoven’s pianos. The world’s most Instagrammed train stations. PSA: don’t cook a chicken in Yellowstone’s hot springs.  All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s raccoon-menaced miscellany.

Graphic Arts Employment—October 2020

Published November 13, 2020

October 2020 employment figures are at least moving in the right direction from September, albeit slowly; overall printing employment in October was up +0.8% from September, with the gains predominantly in production staff continuing to come back. Let’s not look at year-over-year changes in graphic arts employment.

Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2018

Published November 6, 2020

In 2010, there were 491 establishments in NAICS 322212 (Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined to 440, despite a spurt of post-recession growth. In macro news, the BEA’s advance estimate of 3Q GDP saw it increasing +33.1%—a climbing out of Q2’s -31.4% hole.

Around the Web: Postal Performance. Fictional Fragrance. Ballpoint Bio. News Negation. Java Jacket. Canvas Cosplay. Cetacean Savior.

Published November 6, 2020

A street-corner performance artist writes and mails “pick-me-up” letters. Powell’s Books is selling the smell of its bookstore. A history of the ballpoint pen, the “smartphone of its era.” The controversy over “unpublishing.” AI-enabled camera mistakes a ref’s head for a soccer ball. New Kickstarter for a coat made from “coffee yarn.” A malfunctioning 3D printer inspires a new form of textile. At “The Bob Ross Experience,” fans can dress up as and paint along with the PBS art instructor. A 3D art “performance” at the Brussels airport. A whale sculpture prevents a train from plummeting to its doom. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s post-electoral miscellany.

Around the Web: Frightening Figurines. Kooky Costumes. Mouse Mastication. Table Talk. Tracing Textiles. Poll Posters. Lunging Leopards.

Published October 30, 2020

Precious Moments figurines repainted for Halloween. A photo gallery of some of weirdest and/or ill-advised Halloween costumes ever. New eco-conscious automotive wiring is eaten by rats. A new app and connected tablecloth tells you what’s on your table, for some reason. A new book traces the history of textiles. RIT opens a digital exhibition of suffrage posters. Classic jazz album cover designs. Some questions about Burger King’s reusable packaging. Never pay for a “full contact experience” with a leopard. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s spooktacular miscellany.

Q2 Profits Unchanged from Q1—But Still Bad

Published October 30, 2020

Given the lag time in the release of quarterly profits, we have to time travel back to Q2, much as it pains us to do so, where we see that annualized profits for Q2 2020 stayed steady at -$4 billion.

EXCLUSIVE: EFI Chief Revenue Officer Frank Mallozzi Provides Details about New Nozomi C18000 PLUS

Published October 27, 2020

EFI launched its digital direct-to-corrugated press, the Nozomi C18000, at drupa 2016. Since that time, the company has placed a number of units, and at least two companies have purchased two units. Now, based on market experience and customer feedback, EFI has launched the second generation, the Nozomi C18000 PLUS, available as a field upgrade. Hear what Frank Mallozzi has to say.

Around the Web: Candy Cruise. Academic Apparel. Novel Notions. Susceptible Satellites. Listing Letters. Sustainable Sandwiches.

Published October 23, 2020

Candy chutes for social-distanced trick or treating. The International Library for Fashion Research set to open in Oslo. Clever but strange inventions from the early 20th century. What would we do without GPS? A new book traces the history of alphabetical order. (No, really.) Burger King tries out reusable packaging. RIP Ed Benguiat. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly track-and-tracing miscellany.

Paperboard Container Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2018

Published October 23, 2020

In 2010, there were 2,205 establishments in NAICS 32221 (Paperboard Container Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined -11% to 1,961. In macro news, the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score was up in September. This is a leading indicator for the economy in general, but also for the signage market in particular.

Around the Web: Tracking Typefaces. Maximum Multiverse. Paying Paintings. Computerized Comics. Trolley Trade. Tormented Tourist. Cyber Saint. Softer Sparrows.

Published October 16, 2020

A new type specimen project. A typeface for people with poor vision. Tommy Hilfiger helps make fashion more sustainable. The Large Hadron Collider may be about to locate a parallel universe. Large paintings of medical bills are sold to pay those same medical bills. Can robots be funny? Qantas sells off fully stocked drinks carts. A tourist steals “cursed” relics from Pompeii. The “patron saint of the Internet” is a millennial who is on the verge of canonization. San Francisco’s birds got quieter during lockdown. Thirteen centuries of English in two minutes. Two words: fruit ninja. Remembering Dave Chandler. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly autumnal miscellany.

August Printing Shipments—The Rebound Continues

Published October 16, 2020

In August 2020, printing shipments rose to $6.90 billion—the third straight month of increasing shipments—and while it’s still well below August 2019’s $7.52 billion, given where we came from, that ain’t bad.

Converted Paper Product Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2018

Published October 9, 2020

In 2010, there were 4,128 establishments in NAICS 3222 (Converted Paper Product Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined -12% to 3,547. In macro news, the unemployment rate drops, but not entirely for the right reasons.

Around the Web: Apt Art. Fish Fashion. Sailing Sweets. Bones’n’Brands. Terrifying Telegram. Faux Font. Rocketing Roof. Biting Bot. Google ’Glyphics. COVID Christmas. Brutal Bugs.

Published October 9, 2020

RIT’s exhibit of early 20th-century political cartoons. Leather made from fish skin.  A zipline candy delivery system for COVID-era trick or treating. Home Depot’s giant skeleton barges its way into other brands’ social media. Send a “Screaming Telegram” to that special someone? New Tarot card decks for the 21st century...and beyond. Don’t use Arial for, you know, real design. Tesla invents the “inadvertent convertible.” A dental training robot goes rogue. Google’s machine learning-based hieroglyph translator. Santa will be social distancing this year. Who is surprised that the murder hornets have a “slaughter phase”? RIP Eddie Van Halen. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly autumnal miscellany.

Q2 Publishing and Advertising Revenues

Published October 2, 2020

From Q1 to Q2, book, periodical, and newspaper publishers, as well as advertising and related markets, saw quarterly revenues drop, some quite abruptly. For some of these markets, the pandemic only accelerated trends that had been long-ongoing.

Around the Web: Waist-Up Wardrobe. Glorious Graphene. Frank Financials. Lovely Letterpress. Missing Manual. Tenacious Trash. Terrifying Tattoos. Yay for Yurts! Periodic Pantone.

Published October 2, 2020

Fashion brands are designing for the Zoom generation. New face mask technology from Georgia Tech. Why Costco’s hot dog and soda combo only costs $1.50. The “United States of Letterpress”—a collection of letterpress samples from across the country. The user manual for the world’s oldest preserved digital computer has finally been found. A national park in Thailand mails trash back to litterers. The most tattooed man in France frightens small children. What may help New York City restaurants get through the winter? Yurts. Geeking out on the number 42. David Mitchell defends a broadband-killing television. Strippers try to get out the vote. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly autumnal miscellany.

Around the Web: Budding Basil. Canadian Crime Wave. Silk Sensors. Postponed Postcards. Fotomat Finishing. Television Trouble. Type Trek. Marvelous Mountain. Squirrel Saloon.  

Published September 25, 2020

Canadian thieves target hot tubs and beef, for some reason. Silk-based ink can be used to create wearable sensors. A Michigan woman receives a postcard mailed in 1920. The rise and fall of the iconic Fotomat. An old TV causes trouble for a Welsh village. The typography of Star Trek. What is the best time zone? The Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle is back! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly autumnal miscellany.

Direct Mail Advertising—2010–2018

Published September 25, 2020

In 2010, there were 3,088 establishments in NAICS 54186 (Direct Mail Advertising). By 2018, the number of these establishments had dropped to 2,341. In macro news: initial unemployment claims rise again.

Around the Web: Score Statistics. Great Graphene. Wearable Wary. Creative Carpet. Python PPE. Viva Venus? Ludwig Listening. LEGO Listens. Covered Cakes. Perishing Peeps. Depressing Decoration.

Published September 18, 2020

The NFL season begins—and so does Scorigami. New graphene-based apparel. Amazon enters the fitness wearables market. The Simpsons as classic works of art. Public Service Announcement: a live snake is not an acceptable face covering. Is there life on Venus? How Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony changed the way people listen to classical music. The New York Times and Facebook collaborate on AR reporting. Children’s letters inspire LEGO to rethink its packaging. 2020 news would bewilder a time traveler from...2019. A “cake shield” for blowing out birthday candles. A Santa-wearing-a-mask Christmas ornament to enhance seasonal depression. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly pre-apocalyptic miscellany.

Printing Shipments: Summer’s Almost Gone

Published September 18, 2020

Printing shipments continued to rebound in July, coming in at $6.75 billion, up from June’s $6.63 billion. We remain hopeful, but as we have been seeing lately, we are far from out of the woods virus-wise and we may see shipments start to decline again come the fall.

Around the Web: Fashion’s Future. Futuristic Fashion. Luxembourg Library. Senryu Signage. Robot Writer. Ruinous Reveals. Vertiginous Van. Festive Fungi. 

Published September 11, 2020

The San Francisco Bay Area skies match PANTONE 130U. For ideas on how fashion should evolve, look to China. Programmable, 3D-printed textiles. Creative signage for the National Library of Luxembourg. Poetic signage is randomly appearing throughout the US. A robot pens an essay for The Guardian. Tired of cloth masks—how about transparent bubbles? What’s with gender reveal parties? Someone customized a van to drive upside-down and backwards, for some reason. Because it’s 2020 and why not: shiitake mushroom-flavored candy canes. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly gender revealing miscellany.

Outdoor Advertising—2010–2018

Published September 11, 2020

In 2010, there were 2,378 establishments in NAICS 54185 (Outdoor Advertising, although until 2012 this category was referred to as “Display Advertising”). Establishments dipped in the mid-2010s, but hit a new peak in 2018 at 2,765 establishments. In macroeconomic news: unemployment is down, but unemployment claims data paint a dark picture.

Around the Web: Printing Proposal. Talented Typist. Feral Fabric. Interactive Ink. Flight Fantasy. Dying Dining. Transforming Technology. Silly Spectacles.

Published September 4, 2020

A beau proposes to his typography-loving girlfriend at the Museum of Printing. A “typewriter artist.” “Living fabric” that purifies the air around it. Interactive, “clickable” paper that doesn’t require an external power source. A videogame that simulates flying in coach, for some reason. Record chain restaurant bankruptcies. The accelerating adoption rate of new technologies. “Anti-procrastination glasses.” Sensible and silly snacking. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly doomscrolling miscellany.

Retail Sales: A V-Shaped Recovery?

Published September 4, 2020

The Census Bureau recently released its monthly report on retail sales, and after a dramatic plummeting, July retail sales were $536.0 billion, up 1.2% from June (seasonally adjusted), and 2.7% above July 2019. But this may paint a rosier picture of retail than is warranted.

Around the Web: Sunflower Savior. Catalog Characters. Digital Decor. Sumptuous Sewing. Signage Surveillance. Abused Androids. Postal Paintings. Cosmic Comm. Rock Riddle. Foul Fraud.

Published August 28, 2020

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program comes to the US. IKEA Taiwan adds Animal Crossing characters to its catalog. Also: 70 years of IKEA catalogs are now online. Amazon launches AR-based furniture decorating. A “thread artist” sews realistic embroidered foods. Clear Channel’s new billboards can track your movements. How to combat the growing scourge of robot abuse. A photo essay looks at the US’s New Deal-era post office murals. John Shepherd devoted his life to trying to contact space aliens. Newly discovered research notes describe an attempt to decipher the Rosetta Stone. Two words: vomit fraud. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly virtual miscellany.

PR Agencies—2010–2018

Published August 28, 2020

In 2010, there were 8,219 establishments in NAICS 54182 (Public Relations Agencies). After a slight contraction due to the Great Recession, PR agencies started to grow again, peaking at 8,548 establishments in 2018. In addition, we estimate there were an additional 37,954 freelance or sole proprietor PR agency establishments in 2018. In macro news: Q2 GDP revised up.

Printing Shipments On the Rebound: Will It Last?

Published August 21, 2020

After a dismal April and May, printing shipments rebounded in June to $6.63 billion. It’s a hopeful sign, but the COVID-19 crisis is far from over. It’s going to be a tense fall.

Around the Web: Data Design. Militant Masker. Dairy Ditties. Pixel Papa. Transparent Toilets. Tudor Trickery. Body-Shaming Bistro. Fantastic Flash.

Published August 21, 2020

Stock market data transformed into beautiful landscapes. A “mask gun” shoots face masks onto people’s faces. A deep dip into ice cream truck music. A woman’s driver’s license photo is an empty chair. Russell Kirsch, the inventor of the pixel, passed away at 91. Japan’s public lavatories with see-through walls. A 16th-century deep fake. A look back a the first “interactive TV show”—from 1953. A restaurant in China weighs customers before they order. The making of the great camp classic— 1980’s “Flash Gordon.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly unmasked miscellany.

Advertising Agencies—2010–2018

Published August 14, 2020

In 2010, there were 13,248 establishments in NAICS 54181 (Advertising Agencies). After a slight contraction due to the Great Recession, agencies started to grow again, peaking at 13,737 establishments in 2018. In addition, we estimate there were an additional 60,994 freelance or sole proprietor agency establishments in 2018. In macro news: initial unemployment claims dip below 1 million.

Around the Web: Fashion’s Future. Revised Revenues. Calling Cards. Flaming Photography. Slithering Smartphone. Video Vacation. Manhattan Migration. Mechanical Music. Rim Recording.

Published August 14, 2020

Online retail is the future of fashion. The NYT’s digital revenues surpass print for the first time in 170 years. WTIN is making its must-read Digital Textile eMag available for free. Has the ever-resilient business card finally met its match? A pictorial celebration of the postcard. The making of one of rock's most iconic album covers. A smartphone case with robotic legs allows a phone to crawl to its charging pad, creepily enough. The last remaining Blockbuster Video store is a retro Airbnb. Electrical outlet covers that double as motion-sensitive lights. Retailers are fleeing NYC. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly virtual miscellany.

Around the Web: Missing Mondays. Silly Signage. Adapting Architecture. Foxy Fetishist. Cirrus Sneakers. Crazy Convertible. Pixellated Pack. Circular Sketching.

Published August 7, 2020

There will no longer be a Monday print edition of a newspaper anywhere in Wyoming. Amusing social distancing signage from Down Under.  How will the COVID pandemic affect architecture? Germany’s shoe-stealing fox. 3D-printed sneakers based on clouds. The Boatswagon boat-car hybrid is up for auction. 8Bit Playing Cards simulate 1980s-era computer graphics. A new, limited edition Etch a Sketch lets you draw circles. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly virtual miscellany.

May Printing Shipments—Now It’s Serious

Published August 7, 2020

Printing shipments for May 2020 came in at $6.42 billion, down from $6.51 in April and way down from $7.21 billion back in January. This may be as dire as shipments get, but we don’t expect to break $7 billion again for a long while.

Around the Web: Farewell, Folio:. Goofy Gift. Temporary Tees. Pod Printing. Transformed Telephones. Vanishing Views. Foul Food.

Published July 31, 2020

BoSacks memorializes the late great Folio: magazine. Customized bobbleheads make grea—well, let’s just say they make gifts. A concept for temporary, recyclable promotional items. English communities adopt and reuse iconic red phone boxes. A new book looks at the impending death of local journalism. “Hot Dog Rice Krispies Treats.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly doomscrolling miscellany.

Graphic Design Services—2010–2018

Published July 31, 2020

In 2010, there were 15,390 establishments in NAICS 54143 (Graphic Design Services). After something of a contraction due to the Great Recession, graphic design establishments started to grow again, peaking at 15,776 establishments in 2018. In addition, we estimate there were an additional 119,037 freelance graphic design establishments in 2018. In macro news: GDP falls off the cliff.

Graphic Arts Employment—June 2020

Published July 24, 2020

As the song goes, “getting better all the time (can’t get any worse)”: in June 2020, overall printing employment is up +1.1% from May, although down -15.5% from June 2019. So a lot of the April damage is continuing to reverse itself.

Around the Web: Garrulous Glove. Clever Cups. Zany Zoom. Substitute Searching. Satisfying Screaming. Deserting Diners. Fudged Form. Callipygous Curation. Classical Cobain.

Published July 24, 2020

Engineers have developed a glove that translates sign language into speech. A new reusable silicone mask works as well as an N95 mask. Dixie Cups were the Zoom of the 1918 pandemic. Video imagines if Zoom had existed in 1988. What did we use for Internet searching before Google? A web app lets you scream into the Icelandic wilderness. “Rage Yoga.” For pete’s sake, if you make a restaurant reservation, show up. A faked death certificate done in by a typo. Museum curators are getting to the bottoms of their collections. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sung in Classical Latin. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly doomscrolling miscellany.

Directory and Mailing List Publishing Establishments—2010–2017

Published July 17, 2020

In 2010, there were 1,641 US directory and mailing list publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had plummeted to 756.

Around the Web: Vegetable Vending. Penny Peril. Cube Reaction. Noise Negation. Deadly Dolphin. Forms Fun.

Published July 17, 2020

Salad bars could be replaced by vegetable vending machines. Will COVID finally kill off the penny? TV shows start using mannequins for sex scenes. A “Rubik’s Cube artist” created a giant portrait of Erno Rubik using 400 of his eponymous cubes. Researchers develop a prototype device for windows that can cancel out outside noise. A terrifying-looking ancient extinct dolphin. Firefighting goats. Librarians use Google Forms to create escape room games. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly masked miscellany.

April Printing Shipments—Here We Go

Published July 10, 2020

As we expected, April 2020 printing shipments took a tumble—falling from $7.18 billion in March down to $6.56 billion. Hmm...what could have caused that?

Around the Web: Digital Dyeing. Hat Hare. Color Conflict. Banning Ban. Bistro Bots. Bringing Back Boomboxes. Conferencing Cleanliness. Crazy Car Concept. Hidden Honda. Larson’s Latest.

Published July 10, 2020

More sustainable options for fabric dyeing. Turn your pets’ fur into knittable yarn. Today’s designers are taking new approaches to working with color. LinkedIn now offers audio support for correct name pronunciation. Berlin public transport bans deodorant to promote mask wearing. A Dutch restaurant uses robot waitstaff to enforce social distancing. “Boombox restoration.” NYC’s canceled Shakespeare in the Park heads to radio and podcasting. A municipal councillor in Spain neglects to turn off video while showering during a Zoom call. BMW to offer auto features on a subscription basis. Words of advice: don’t microwave library books. “The Far Side” is back...sort of. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly masked miscellany.

The PPP Comes to the Aid of the Industry

Published July 8, 2020

The Government has begun releasing details of the recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aid. In general, the Treasury Department and SBA have issued $7.2 billion to graphic communications industry businesses, retaining 440,609 industry jobs. We break down loan amounts paid out to industry businesses by NAICS code, as well as the number of jobs retained.