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WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's go-to information source with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, WhatTheyThink Email Newsletters, and the WhatTheyThink magazine. Our mission is to inform, educate, and inspire the industry. We 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 501-600 of 4535 articles

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.

Book Publishing Establishments—2010–2017

Published June 26, 2020

In 2010, there were 2,973 US book publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 2,440. Book publishers are especially well-represented in Non-Employer Statistics.

Around the Web: Fussy Font. Rotten Restoration. Cheering Chandler. Cool Covers. Fragile Facemask. Telephoning Tenors. Violin Vegetation. Loopy Lexicon. Segway Sayonara.

Published June 26, 2020

Goldman Sachs designs its own typeface—with some important caveats. Art restoration is best done by a professional. Raymond Chandler: king of the opening paragraph. How does a book cover become iconic? French researchers develop a transparent glass facemask. “Opera by phone.” A string quartet performs for an audience of plants. AI-generated fake English words. The Segway is being discontinued; the word “segue” is now safe. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly masked miscellany.

A Tale of Two Cities: The Pandemic Years

Published June 19, 2020

Annualized profits for Q1 2020 took a nosedive from $990 million to -$4 billion. Sure, the pandemic hit in the last three weeks of the quarter, but this is an old story that predates COVID.

Around the Web: Cap Catastrophe. Friendly Fencing. Filmy Facemasks. Missing Money. Palatable Paper. Defiant Devices. Terrifying Tweeting.

Published June 19, 2020

Pepsi’s Philippines marketing plan goes horribly awry. Social distancing fences bring neighbors closer together. Swiss researchers are developing transparent facemasks. Coronavirus consequence: a coin shortage. A Japanese printing company develops edible pads of paper. One man’s battle with an obstinate refrigerator. Why is Cooper Black such a ubiquitous typeface? Twitter is launching audio tweeting, which can only have positive effects. Basecamp launches a new email platform, for some reason. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Phase 3 reopening miscellany.

Around the Web: COVID Cobbler. Clawed Clothing. Yarn Yeomen. Chiropteran Cacophony. Antiviral Vehicles. Bottle Blunder. Venerating Velázquez. Blacklight Book.

Published June 12, 2020

Shoes designed for social distancing. A Japanese zoo raises money selling lion-mauled jeans. An online yarn store helps its customers and suppliers get through the crisis. An album based on bat songs. What impact will COVID have on car design? A gin distillery also manufacturing hand sanitizer gets its bottles mixed up. Reenactors bring a Velázquez painting to life. An upcoming cmic book will be printed using fluorescent blacklight inks.  All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly slowly reopening miscellany.

Periodical Publishing Establishments—2010–2017

Published June 12, 2020

In 2010, there were 7,221 US periodical publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 5,279. Magazines have been struggling in the Internet age, with closures and consolidations, but also have been seeing a shift in what constitutes “periodical publishing.” Also: we’re officially in a recession (surprise).

Around the Web: Wonderful Wodehouse. Addled Addressing. Simplified Cellphone. Correcting Collaboration. Distance Dousing. Coloring Kerrang. Goofy Graduation. Awkward Academia.

Published June 5, 2020

A tribute to P.G. Wodehouse. A simpler, more surreal approach to specifying physical addresses. Replacing the cellphone touchscreen with a dial. How AI can foster workplace collaboration. A water gun designed specifically for the clergy. Metal magazine Kerrang! turns their covers into coloring pages. NYU’s ill-fated “virtual reality” graduation. What will post-pandemic academia look like? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly slowly reopening miscellany.

Around the Web: Social Sombreros. Fantasy Phone. Elevator Innovator. Germicidal Jetting. Outside Ollies. Rowling Reading. Perishing Painting. Tortured Typing. Loving Letters.

Published May 29, 2020

Behind the iconic NYT Memorial Day front page. Restaurants come up with unique (or silly) ways to enforce social distancing. The Zoom Last Supper. A prototype video chat device—from 1918. A Bangkok shopping mall replaces elevator buttons with foot pedals. Shoot sanitizer from your wrist. Two teens turn their quarantine house into a skatepark. J.K. Rowling serializes free children’s book online. Munch’s “The Scream” is fading. A “web typewriter” doesn’t allow deleting. In Ireland, a letter-writing renaissance. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.

Newspaper Publishing Establishments—2010–2017

Published May 29, 2020

In 2010, there were 7,794 US newspaper publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 7,222. The newspaper industry’s woes have been well-documented, but the trouble started well before the Internet era. Also: Q1 GDP revised down.

Around the Web: Problematic Pangrams. Sans Subtitles. Fusion Facemasks. Mindful Mugs. Daffy Distancing. Globe Grief. Stonehenge Solstice Streaming. Fruity Felons.

Published May 22, 2020

Quick brown foxes and lazy dogs aren’t necessarily best for font proofing. Disney+ lets you change the typeface used for captioning. Devo is selling “Energy Dome” face shields. Bad design concepts for social distancing in restaurants. How will COVID-19 change fashion? Shakespeare’s Globe Theater is in financial trouble. The traditional Stonehenge solstice sunrise gathering will now be livestreamed. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany. Robbers wearing watermelons rob a convenience store.

March Shipments—Crest of a Wave

Published May 22, 2020

As we kind of expected, at $6.96 billion, March shipments were up from February’s $6.48 billion, and well enough above March 2019’s $6.75 billion.

Lori Anderson on Cancellation of ISA International Sign Expo 2020

Published May 15, 2020

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the International Sign Association Board of Directors met this week and has voted to cancel ISA International Sign Expo 2020 re-scheduled for August 22-25. Lori Anderson, ISA President and CEO of ISA talks about decision to cancel this year's event and the scheduling of next year's Sign Expo to be held in Las Vegas during April 2021.

Around the Web: Slack Sitcom. High-Res Rembrandt. Grime Game. Scrabble Squawking. Sign Simulator. Classic Covers. Colorful Car. Doomsday Digs.

Published May 15, 2020

All 201 episodes of The Office have been recreated in Slack. “The Five Stages of Zoom.” The most detailed online photo of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. New videogame lets you power wash a house. Scrabble fans do not like the new Scrabble Go app. Generate random UK government COVID signage. Generate your own Penguin Classic book cover. A self-censoring typeface for sweary writers. The Plymouth “Paint Chip Barracuda.” The thriving doomsday bunker market. Happy birthday, Ottmar Mergenthaler. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly sheltering in place miscellany.

Prepress and Postpress Services Establishments—2010–2017

Published May 15, 2020

In 2010, there were 2,080 establishments offering prepress and/or postpress services; by 2017, that number had dropped to 1,375. It’s not difficult to understand why the number of these establishments has been dropping: prepress is being absorbed into the printing process itself (especially in digital printing), and more print businesses are acquiring their own finishing capabilities.

Graphic Arts Employment—March 2020

Published May 8, 2020

Another of the Scenes from the Before Times: in March 2020, the overall printing employment was virtually unchanged from February (-0.7%) and on a year-over-year basis is down -3.1%. Obviously, this is the calm before the storm.

Around the Web: Horrible Hornets. Friendless Fish. Lovely Letters. Clothing Cuisine. Tenuous Time. Billboard Rebirth. Virtual Visiting.

Published May 8, 2020

Murder hornets and aggressive chickens. Boy, 2020 has it all! An aquarium wants people to FaceTime lonely eels. A long Twitter thread about an 11-year-old’s love of writing letters. You are what you eat, which is also what you wear. All about chintz. Microsoft Word finally stops the insanity of double wordspacing after a period. Why have we lost all sense of time? Are llamas our pandemic heroes? Take virtual tours of some of the world’s most beautiful libraries. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.

Book Printing Establishments—2010–2017

Published May 1, 2020

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 500 establishments in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing Establishments). This represents an decline of -6.7% since the decade began. In other data news, the BEA released Q1 2020 GDP growth. Click on through, if you dare.

Around the Web: Print Preferred. Vexing Video. Catty Commissioner. Commando Correspondent. P&G’s Paper Packaging. Socializing Suit. Postal Pets. Animal AR. Compelling Clogs.

Published May 1, 2020

FedEx Office offers a new deferred payment printing service. The potential psychological effects of using Zoom. Pro tip for Zoom meetings: don’t throw cats. Pro tip for remote Good Morning America segments: wear pants. P&G is using paper-based packaging for its Old Spice and Secret brands. Reusing discarded plastic fishing nets. A Hazmat-like suit designed for virus-free nightlife. Unusual gift items from the Post Office. Put a tiger in your living room. A popular YouTube channel is nothing but drain-unclogging videos, for some reason. Roger Dean livestreams designing the new Yes album cover. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantining miscellany.

Around the Web: New Normal? Rime Readings. Cloistered Cacophony. Tone Tags. Packaging Playhouse. Literary Length. Decor Donations. Remote Rock.

Published April 24, 2020

Textile 4.0 magazine looks at the industry’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Celebrities read verses from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. A giant E Ink display features the NYT’s front page. Noise generator simulates the sounds of an office. A project to assign names to all 24-bit colors. Samsung’s TV boxes are designed to be converted into cat houses. The best 500+-page novels of the recent past. Buy wallpaper and support a local restaurant. Running the Boston Marathon...along the Erie Canal. BÖC performs “Godzilla” online. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantining miscellany.

February Shipments: Tales from The Before Times

Published April 24, 2020

At $6.48 billion, February shipments were down from January’s $6.94 billion, but well above February 2019’s $6.22 billion—and indeed was the best February we’ve had since 2016. Ah, well...

Around the Web: Copper vs. COVID. Somber Signage. Law Limbo. Green Screen Queen. Puzzle Pressure. Failing Forecasts. Learning Lavatory.

Published April 10, 2020

Copper-infused fabric may protect against COVID-19. Retail signage around a closed NYC reflects the spirit of the city. A courtroom drama shoots a virtual episode over Zoom. The Hamilton cast reunites on Zoom. The Queen wears green-screen green on TV and comedy ensues. Unexpected surge in demand makes both jigsaw puzzle and board game makers fall to pieces. Why have weather forecasts suddenly become less accurate? A new “smart toilet” is trouble waiting to happen. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.

Printing Profits Plunged—Even Before the Crisis

Published April 10, 2020

Annualized profits for Q4 2019 took a nosedive from $720 million to -$170 million in the latest chapter in our “tale of two cities” narrative, this time with the profitability gap between large and small printers narrowing.

From Photolabs to FASTSIGNS

Published April 6, 2020

Todd Fitzgerald, owner of FASTSIGNS Wappingers Falls, N.Y., talks to Kelley Holmes about his journey from running several camera stores/photolabs to the sign industry. When the photo business started to change, he saw the sign business as a natural progression, and took advantage of FASTSIGNS’ Co-Brand program.

Screen Printing Establishments—2010–2017

Published April 3, 2020

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 5,187 establishments in NAICS 323113 (Commercial Screen Printing). This represents an increase of +16% since the decade began.

Around the Web: Design for Doctoring. Fashion Forward. Coffee Table Chemistry. Postal Peril. Album Advice. Kooky Colors. Breakfast Bricks. Drone Dating. Portable Potter.

Published April 3, 2020

Designer Ariel Swedroe designs and sews masks for Miami health care practitioners. Will fashion’s move toward sustainability survive the COVID-19 crisis? A lavish picture book about the chemical elements. Will the Postal Service survive the COVID-19 crisis? Classic album covers redesigned to promote social distancing. “Overly descriptive color palettes.” Is Merino wool an answer to the marine microplastics pollution problem? A “building block waffle maker.” A real-life rom-com for the viral age. Does a USB drive get heavier as you store more files on it? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.

January Shipments: Well, We Started Great

Published March 27, 2020

At $6.94 billion, January shipments were down a little from December’s $6.98 billion, but that was just slightly lower than January 2016’s $6.95 billion—the best January we have had since then. But, elephant in the room...

Around the Web: Medical Masking. Tele Trolling. Mini Marathon. COVID Comedy. Virus Vocabulary. Awful Offices. Weird Webcams. Filter Fail.

Published March 27, 2020

So what are we talking about this week? Textile and apparel companies, among others, are helping provide masks and other protective gear for the COVID-19 crisis. Twitter tales of social distancing. “Zoombombing.” Running a 26-mile marathon on a seven-foot balcony. The evolution of Internet humor via coronavirus memes. New coronavirus-related words and phrases are entering the lexicon at a rapid rate. The grossest home offices ever. Webcams that keep eyes out for UFO, Bigfoot, and ghosts. Another livestream, another camera filter left on. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.

FASTSIGNS Vero Beach and ABC Printing Co-Brand to Offer Complete Signage and Commercial Printing Services

Published March 23, 2020

Gordon Sellers, FASTSIGNS Vero Beach, Fla., and & Chris Beals, ABC Printing, talk about the evolution of their partnership. ABC Printing was founded in 1975 as a quick printer. When Gordon opened FASTSIGNS Vero Beach, Chis became a top customer, selling signs to his customers and acquiring them from FASTSIGNS—and Gordon’s customers also needed small-format printing. As their partnership grew, they decided to take advantage of FASTSIGNS’ Co-Branding program.

Around the Web: Social Salutations. Demanding Distance. Lavatorial Leaves. Restaurant Relics. Menschy Macmillan. Mammoth Manse. Plane Panes. Terrific Tablet. Mine Music.

Published March 20, 2020

More alternatives to handshaking. A Chicago restaurant offers free...dinner rolls. “Social distancing enforcement object.” A field guide to local foliage should the TP shortage become acute. Brooklyn restaurateurs uncover a trove of historical materials from a 19th century restaurant. A woman mistakes cheese for soap. Macmillan cancels its plans to deny libraries access to ebooks. An Ice Age house made of mammoth bones. Faux stained glass window clings for airplanes. E Ink’s new tablet could be a hit. The Shaft Bottom Boys play world’s deepest concert. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.

Printing Establishments—2010–2017

Published March 20, 2020

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 25,256 establishments in NAICS 323 (Printing and Related Support Activities). This represents a decline of 13% since the decade began.

For Gaby Mullinax & Kaitlyn Mullinax-Fischer, FASTSIGNS is a Family Business

Published March 16, 2020

Gaby Mullinax & Kaitlyn Mullinax-Fischer, Owner & Director of Business Development of FASTSIGNS of Brea and Fullerton, Calif., talk about how their franchise became a family business, and how Gaby jumped off the corporate ladder to run a FASTSIGNS franchise. They encourage young people to get involved in the FASTSIGNS business.

Around the Web: Meddling Microbes. Apple AR. Virtual Vestments. Morphing Malls. Wacky Warrants. Crustacean Causeway.

Published March 13, 2020

A round up of some virus-laden news items. Apple’s Quick Look adds AR to shopping. Virtual fashion makes “fit pics” sustainable. A Dutch shopping mall that doesn’t sell anything. “Geofencing warrants” trace geolocation data to crime scenes. Building a crab infrastructure on Christmas Island. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Graphic Arts Employment—February 2020

Published March 13, 2020

In February 2020, overall printing employment was virtually unchanged from January (-0.1%) and on a year-over-year basis was down -2.0%. Interestingly, production employment was up, albeit infinitesimally.

Stan Gray Benefits from FASTSIGNS Veteran Program

Published March 9, 2020

Stan Gray, owner of FASTSIGNS Torrance and Long Beach, Calif., talks about his military background and how he came to FASTSIGNS via the Veteran & First Responder Franchise Program. Gray also has a background in architecture, and his franchise specializes in ADA signage.

Around the Web: All About CBD. The Death of the Apostrophe? History of the Sticker Museum. Paramedical Tattoos. Hive Heists. The Big Data of Big Hair.

Published March 6, 2020

A close look at what CBD does in the body. Have we killed the apostrophe? Terry Jones’ final project. Beehive theft is now a thing. Which decade had the biggest hair? A history of sneaker design. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Prepress and Postpress Establishments—2017

Published March 6, 2020

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 1,373 establishments in NAICS 32312 (Support Activities for Printing). The majority of these establishments (66%) had fewer than 10 employees.

Around the Web: Hygienic Handshakes. Public Pix. Mobile Museum. Continuing Catalogs. Stop Signage. Face Filter Failure. Funny Fashion. Cuttable Condiment.

Published February 28, 2020

A possible alternative to the handshake. Both the Smithsonian and the Biodiversity Heritage Library have released thousands of images into the public domain. Libraries are ditching overdue fines. Take the Swedish Design Museum home with you. Believe it or not, printed catalogs and the mail order business may be in the process of restoration—if not Restoration. Inside the NY DOT inplant and Stop sign manufacturing. Rough weather for a meteorologist who left an AR filter on his broadcast. Stop-motion animation using pancakes. The best thing since sliced...mayonnaise? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Retail Sales—January 2020

Published February 28, 2020

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January 2020, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $529.8 billion, an increase of +0.3% (±0.4%) from the previous month, and +4.4% (±0.7%) above January 2019. Retail drives a lot of printing and packaging volume, so it’s important to keep an eye on that sector.

Book Printers—2017

Published February 21, 2020

The latest edition of County Business Patterns is out, which updates number of establishments and other data to 2017. In that year, there were 500 establishments in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing). The majority of these establishments (63%) had fewer than 10 employees.

Around the Web: Glowing Garments. Election Ensemble. Lasting Lore. Waning Watches. Blocking Bracelet. Pivot-Table Percussion. Victorian Vehemence. Fowl Footwear.

Published February 21, 2020

An LED light system to add high visibility to safety apparel. Forevernote will preserve your family memories—professional biographer included. The Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry. “Bracelet of silence” keeps Alexa from eavesdropping. Weird punctuation in film titles. Turn Microsoft Excel into a drum machine. A Victorian shop manager quits in protest over bar codes. KFC and Crocs team up for...huh? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Owner of FASTSIGNS Forest Hills. N.Y., Talks About his FASTSIGNS Conversion

Published February 20, 2020

Mohamed Kazi, Owner of FASTSIGNS Forest Hills, N.Y., talks about his recent FASTSIGNS conversion. After coming to the US from India, Kazi started in the sign industry in 1998 and launched his own business in 2007. He recently decided to convert his sign business to a FASTSIGNS as a way to take advantage of the franchise’s marketing and sales training resources to better complement his own technical and production capabilities.

Temple, Tex.’s Paper Graphics Reaps Rewards with FASTSIGNS Co-Brand Program

Published February 19, 2020

Dennis Smith is owner of both FASTSIGNS of Temple, Tex., and Paper Graphics, a commercial print business founded in 1972. Five or six years ago, as the commercial print business started growing stagnant, Smith researched FASTSIGNS’ Co-Brand program. He chose to become a FASTSIGNS franchise rather than add his own wide-format printing equipment in order to take advantage of the franchise’s training and its brand recognition.

December Shipments: Ending 2019 on a High Note

Published February 14, 2020

The value of printing shipments for December 2019 was down from November—as we expected it would be—but not down as much as been the case in recent years. At $6.95 billion, December shipments were down from November’s $7.03 billion, but far above the depths of 2017 and 2018.

Around the Web: Cool Clipart. Book Bot. Artistic Appetizers. Calligraphic Collection. Lotsa Letters. Grotesque Garfield. Jurassic Driver.

Published February 14, 2020

Royalty-free illustrations from old books. A Japanese artist hand-draws every meal he eats. A new book teaches hand-lettering. An Ohio man receives 55,000 copies of the same letter from his daughter’s Student Loan Company. A reimagining (and improvement) of Garfield. Printed greeting cards are still in fashion. Making 3D printing resin from old fryer oil. Why are people getting worse at The Price Is Right? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Screen Printing Establishments—2017

Published February 7, 2020

The latest edition of County Business Patterns is out, which updates number of establishments and other data to 2017. In that year, there were 5,186 establishments in NAICS 323113 (Commercial Screen Printing). The majority of these establishments (74%) had fewer than 10 employees.

Around the Web: Printing Parkinson’s. Shedding Sheep. Shark Suit. Bartending ’Bots. Scorigami! Publishing Palaces. Canine Cans. Hog Hearses. Daliwood. Mobile Men’s Room. Junk Jam.

Published February 7, 2020

A new typeface raises awareness of, and helps fund a cure for, Parkinson’s Disease. Pineapple wool aims to replace sheep. A shark-proof wetsuit. Dye-sub transfer for non-polyester fibers. Japan experiments with robot bartenders. Private equity tries to acquire .org domain registry. Scorigami tracks rare football scores. Former newspaper headquarters have become luxury apartments. A Florida brewery puts pictures of adoptable rescue dogs on beer cans—and one woman finds her lost dog. Motorcycle hearses for uneasy riders. Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney once collaborated on an animated short film. “Uber for lavatories.” Faking a traffic jam on Google Maps. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

For FASTSIGNS of Maumee & Toledo, OH, Business Is a Family Affair

Published February 5, 2020

Karrie Brock, Owner of FASTSIGNS of Maumee & Toledo, OH, talks with Kelley Holmes about her business, which was converted to a FASTSIGNS franchise 10 years ago. She opened a second location in Maumee four years ago. Her husband Randy joined the team just prior to the conversion, and handles the back-of-the-house production, installation, and fabrication management while Karrie the “front of the house” operations.

Graphic Arts Employment—December 2019

Published January 31, 2020

In December 2019, overall printing employment dropped -0.2% from November, and on a year-over-year basis, it is down -2.4%. Production employment was down -0.5% from November to December (and -4.4% Y/Y) while non-production employment was down -0.1% from November to December—but actually up +1.7% Y/Y.

Around the Web: Sustainable Straws. Mobile Meetings. Floating Fashion. Classic Critique. Latest Lenses. Fractious Footwear. Cleaver Calming,

Published January 31, 2020

The growing market for paper straws. A slow elevator designed for fast meetings. A paperboy helps save a restaurant from fire. A balloon-based fashion collection. A new book collects old airline maps. Another new book collects photographs of famous economists. Which classic novels are the most-loved—and most-hated? Contact lens-based displays. Are new running shoes “technological doping”? Merit badges for—oy—“adulting.” Three words: “meat cleaver massage.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Putting a Professional Face on a Sign Business

Published January 29, 2020

Mathew Feil, Owner of FASTSIGNS Lawton, OK, talks about having converted his five-year-old sign company to a FASTSIGNS franchise and how a more professional face on his business has made it easier to to sell jobs. He also cites the technical, sales, and marketing resources that are available from FASTSIGNS corporate, as well as events such as the FASTSIGNS Conference.

Helping FASTSIGNS Move Into New Geographic Areas

Published January 28, 2020

Greg Carafello, NYC Area Development–FASTSIGNS, talks to Kelley Holmes about his role as a certified franchise executive, and how he helps companies like FASTSIGNS move into new geographies and attract franchise candidates. He also talks about the advantages of converting a print business to a FASTSIGNS franchise.

Commercial Printing Establishments—2017

Published January 24, 2020

The latest edition of County Business Patterns is out, which updates the number of establishments and other data. In 2017, there were 25,256 establishments in NAICS 323 (Printing and Related Support Activities). The majority of these establishments (71%) have fewer than 10 employees.

Around the Web: Lavatory Literature. Modulated Mummy. Ubiquitous Unicorns. Streaming Salvos. Tiny Type. Cranium Confusion. Forensic Flipping. Pigeon Parade.

Published January 24, 2020

“Facility” is a new print magazine all about bathrooms. Giving voice to a 3,000-year-old mummy. Op-eds from the future. The opening salvos in the streaming wars. Stores are compensating for poor packaging design choices. Dante’s Inferno for language pedants. The battle over a cryonically frozen head. A home renovation show that remodels crime scenes. A concerto for orchestra and typewriter. The Nevada Avian Milliner is back. Also: Robopigeon! Hide the statues! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Paper Handling Solutions Identifies Customer Needs

Published January 21, 2020

Kris Oosterling of Paper Handling Solutions talks to Kelley Holmes about the evolution of the company, from what had been a traditional finishing equipment dealer to a more consultative solutions provider, helping customers navigate changes in the printing landscape.

Get It Now Print Streamlines Its Workflow

Published January 20, 2020

From 20 jobs per day to 100, Get It Now Print has increased production and their customer base with the help of EFI’s Fiery Workflow solution. Simple, efficient, and agile, Fiery automation can help your print business get more work out the door.

November Printing Shipments: Off for the Holidays

Published January 17, 2020

The value of printing shipments for November 2019 was $7.03 billion—a pretty big drop from October’s $7.65 billion, but we kind of expected it, as November and December see business slow down for the holidays.

Around the Web: Fabricating Food. Smart Sweats. Clever Kicks. Receipt Wrap. Slaking Slack. Erroneous Ebooks. Mellotron Music Musing.

Published January 17, 2020

3D-printed candy. Rechargeable workout clothes. Smart sneakers can improve your running form. A knitted scarf based on a CVS receipt. Living concrete. A new, more accurate typewriter font, for some reason. How Slack has ruined work. Library ebook provider Overdrive acquired by private equity firm. Why was there no ebook revolution in the 2010s? “The” most powerful word in the English language. A journey inside the Mellotron, one of the weirdest musical instruments. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Establishment Births/Deaths: Industry Attrition Continues to Slow

Published January 10, 2020

From 2015 to 2016, there had been an increase of 1,586 establishments, but a decrease of -1,881 establishments, for a net loss of -295 establishments. That’s a smaller percentage change than previous years, which reflects somewhat of a deceleration in industry consolidation.

Around the Web: Fur Fracas. Delivery Droid. Seen at CES. Audi’s Interior. Enhanced E Ink. Scrappy Scrabble. Bloody Billboard. Bivalve Boogie. Crazy Cats.

Published January 10, 2020

NYC’s proposed ban on fur (for fashion) causes a kerfuffle. A wearable plant vest that is...er, self-watering. A bipedal delivery robot is now for sale. Japan recycles cardboard to use as beds for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics competitors. A roundup of “highlights” from this week’s Consumer Electronics Show. “Charmin looks to disrupt the toilet experience with new technologies.” An inflatable pub for grown-up parties. At last: a color E Ink display. A deep dive into the history of the board game Scrabble—and the small Vermont town that used to manufacture all the letter tiles. A brilliant billboard advertising the new “Dracula” series. Two words: “disco clam.” Pro tip: don’t see the new “Cats” while tripping on LSD. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

ColorKarma: Making it Easier for Designers and Producers to Communicate

Published January 7, 2020

Shoshana Burgett discusses why she founded ColorKarma: to help improve communications between designers and producers, who often speak different "languages." She also aims to make it easier for designers to connect with producers across a wide range of physical product types.

The Next Chapter in the Printing Profits “Tale of Two Cities”

Published December 20, 2019

Industry profits data for the third quarter of 2019 were down from $3.05 billion in Q2 to $2.65 billion. Large printers continue to be the trouble spot.

Around the Web: Decade Dilemmas. Fiber Fallout. Paper Packing. Tentacle Trouble. Nifty Notebooks. Clever Keyboard. Helping Hive.

Published December 20, 2019

What are technology’s biggest challenges for the next decade? What are the top emerging technologies? Are natural fibers better for the environment than artificial fibers? Paper-based alternative to Bubble Wrap. The eternal struggle: eagle vs. octopus. For sale: Alaskan newspaper. Cost: $0. A teenager installs a 1,500-pound mainframe computer in his parents’ basement. A portable roll-up keyboard for smartphones and tablets. The rebirth of cursive writing? Bees as service animals. Rejoice: Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” is now online! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

The Smart Factory Comes to Australia’s CMYKhub

Published December 17, 2019

Dayne Nankervis of Australian trade printer CMYKhub talks about the company's automation efforts, and how it is helping address the challenge of finding qualified staff. Ease-of-use allows staff to operate multiple machines, and gain new skills as they move around the company.

Around the Web: Gaga for Graphene! Vexing Valuation. DNA Data. Explaining Ecommerce. Sham Shipping. Stalking Signage. Mysterious Millinery.

Published December 13, 2019

A graphene jacket. A costly typo in Utah. Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year. The DNA of things”—creating materials with built-in memory. Intricate paper sculptures of microorganisms. Free shipping isn’t always free. User-tracking billboards—and with whom they share data. Who is putting hats on Las Vegas pigeons? KFC’s chicken-scented yule log. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

October Printing Shipments: Raise a Glass of Holiday Cheer

Published December 13, 2019

The value of printing shipments for October 2019 was $7.65 billion—a pretty big jump from September’s $7.14 billion. October has become the biggest month of the year, and this is the best October the industry has had since 2016.

The “Orders of One” Industry

Published December 10, 2019

Julian Marsh, Digital Print Expert, talks about the latest challenges facing digital book printers. Customers want highly customized and complex books with faster turnaround than ever—the “Amazon effect.” At the same time, book printers are facing a skills shortage. Enter automation and the smart factory approach to book manufacturing.

Around the Web: Crafty Carlsberg. Couture Clash. Fatal Fashion. Local Losses. Sham Shipments. Brainy Brush. Cuneiform Cookies. Purring Professors.

Published December 6, 2019

Carlsberg Group replaces plastic ring carriers and shrinkwrapping with innovative adhesive dots. The environmental toll of haute couture. A textile-based horror movie. The death of local news. An interactive look at the graphic design and development of New York City’s subway map. An AI system attempts to write about printing shipments. “A fitness tracker for your mouth.” A new look at Marco Polo’s last year in Venice. A Welsh password generator. Cats teaching economics. A $1 hotel room—exhibitionists preferred. A smoke-breathing Godzilla Christmas tree. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly, Baby Yoda-free miscellany.

First Look: Industry Business Conditions 2019

Published December 6, 2019

Preliminary results from our 2019 Business Outlook Survey show that one-fourth (24%) of survey respondents reported that, compared to 2018, revenues for 2019 were up more than 10%. That’s the highest this has been since we started our annual survey in 2015. Elsewhere, though, things are a bit more muted.

Bookmasters Brings the Smart Factory to Book Production

Published December 3, 2019

Brad Sharp, Director of Manufacturing for Bookmasters, talks about the company’s implementation of the “smart factory,” not only in the front end, but also in printing and finishing, leveraging automation to tie together as many work centers as they can for short-run, on-demand book production.

October Jobs: Production Down, Managerial Up

Published November 22, 2019

In October, overall printing employment dropped -0.3% from September. On a year-over-year basis, though, it was down -2.4%. Production employment was down -0.7% from September to October, but year-over-year was down -4.8%. On the other hand, non-production employment was up +0.7% from September to October, and year-over-year was up +2.9%.

Around the Web: Publishers’ Peril? Gargantuan Gannett. Assessing AR. Female Pirate Printer. Festive Footwear. Shirt Supreme. Goofy Gravy.

Published November 22, 2019

What happens when a print publication goes all-digital? Has Apple News Plus cannibalized publications’ own digital efforts? Gannett and GateHouse to merge and create the biggest newspaper publisher in the US. What is in store for AR in 2020? Well, not Apple Glasses. Manhole cover-based art. Painting on Vans loafers. Hacking into pet dishes? A unique way to drug your Thanksgiving guests. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Christine Erna on Intelligent Mail

Published November 20, 2019

Christine Erna of Strategic Postal Advisors provides some updates on the mailing industry, specifically "full-service intelligent mail." Intelligent mail offers mailers many benefits, such as address change services, secure destruction, and informed visibility data, although many mailers may not be aware how to take advantage of it.

Canon’s Versatile imagePRESS Technology

Published November 19, 2019

Canon USA’s Matthew Poliniak talks about the company’s imagePRESS technology—specifically the imagePRESS C10000VP and C910 Color Digital Presses—and the wide range of applications imagePRESS technology can produce, achieving the same high quality on uncoated and coated stock, as well as textured and other specialty substrates.

Xanté Introduces InfoMark, an Alternative to QR Codes

Published November 19, 2019

Robert Ross, CEO of Xanté, introduces InfoMark, a simple four-digit alphanumeric code designed to replace the QR code. InfoMark gives publishers, designers, packagers, and others a simple digital link to quickly access audio, video, PDF, and any other digital content from a printed piece using a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Software Binds Together All the Elements of an Automated Workflow

Published November 19, 2019

Ray Duval of Ultimate TechnoGraphics talks about the concept of the “smart factory,” how virtually any print process can be automated, and how software is the glue that holds together all the different parts of the automated workflow.

With the Ricoh TF6250, It’s a Whole New Ballgame for MAC Specialties

Published November 18, 2019

Mark Cohen, President of MAC Specialties, talks about the wide-format and specialty printing services his company offers, and explains how they produce custom cellphone stands. MAC Specialties recently installed a Ricoh TF6250 UV LED Flatbed Printer which allows them to print on materials other than flat sheets or boards—such as foam footballs.

Paperboard Container Manufacturing Establishments—2016

Published November 15, 2019

In 2016, there were 1,971 establishments in NAICS 32221 (Paperboard Container Manufacturing). One-half of these establishments have 50 or more employees, and three-fourths have 20 or more employees.