It has been almost 20 years since I last visited La Belle Province, despite my maternal family’s roots in St. Lambert, Quebec. Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect. But any misgivings I had were quickly swept away, and to say that I was enthralled with Montreal, its people, Grafik’art’s organizers, and the ever-smiling exhibitors would be a huge understatement.
To prepare for my trip, I had memorized: “Pardonez-moi, mon Français est terrible.” But despite the language barrier, I quickly felt right at home.
The 4th edition of Grafik’Art spanned April 19 – 21 at Montreal’s Place Bonaventure, and welcomed 145 exhibitors who quickly transformed the show’s 120 000 square feet of floorspace into a fascinating, colourful world of the latest in printing equipment, techniques, and products. Louis Bernard is the show’s founder and organizer. The day before the show’s opening, he did an amazing impression of an octopus, lending helping hands to just about every exhibitor.
“I’ve already received calls from many businesses,” he said. “They were happy with the show and some said that they’ll exhibit at our next one, which we’re planning to expand to 200 000 square feet.”
Upon entering the show, a virtual female—suspended in an overhanging sphere—greeted me with a congenial “bonjour.” I asked her for a date, and I believe she responded en français “you’re not my type.” I assume she was once a compositor.
You could converse with this “bubble girl” via a floor microphone. This clever, entertaining technology was the creation of the Afficom, Michel M’nard interscène, and software specialist Bernard Tessier.
This year’s event boasted an international flavour as well as national participation. Exhibiting for the first time were Sashsenfahnen, a German-based company specializing in banners and related products, as well as Korean-based Brain Union System, a company specializing in ultra-high-resolution flatbed printing on a variety of unconventional media.
Product-wise, the show had some notable premiers. HP unveiled its all-new Designjet Z6100 Printer, Fuji demonstrated its pre-press equipment for offset and wide-format, with its Vybrant printer making its Canadian debut, and Spicers showcased DuPont’s Cromaprint 18UV, a 72” combination Flatbed/Roll-to-Roll UV Cure Digital Printing System.
Many exhibitors reported major sales, as you’ll note in the following special show feature.
Danny Ionescu, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Graphic Arts, Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co., was impressed with the quality of visitors.
“For the most part, they were industry leaders—professionals in terms of wanting to explore new ideas and grow their customer base,” he said. “Visitors to our booth were especially intrigued by our specialty printing applications, collateral marketing materials, and printing solutions on various types of unique media. We also made a major sale at the show—a Super-Wide Scitex XL1500 was purchased by Helene De Fonvieille, General Manager of CPS Digital, Montreal.”
“Heidelberg Canada was very pleased to participate because the Quebec market has always been very important to us and [it is] a significant part of the Canadian printing industry,” said Don Robinson, Vice President, Sales and Service, of Heidelberg’s Sheetfed & Finishing Division.
“We had the chance to meet with several of our wonderful customers, showcase our new Suprasetter A52/A74, and start discussions about some of our new technologies, such as the revolutionary new Speedmaster 52 with Anicolor. Over the last few years, we’ve taken important steps that have now positioned Heidelberg as the leading graphic arts consumable supplier in Canada.”
Another smiling face was Robert Jollet, Regional Manager, Canada, for Expand Systems llc. His booth might have been one of the show’s best kept secrets as he’s now poised to introduce an exciting new product to the Canadian market—the Busjet Flatbed Printer, which can print on glass, ceramic, and a host of unconventional media with remarkable sharpness of colour, thanks to incredibly high resolution outputs. The technology originates from Korea’s Brain Union System, a global leader in flatbed printing and eco-friendly ink solutions, and Jollet is the exclusive Canadian distributor.
Donald Schroeder, Vice President of Sales for C.P. Bourg, was a first-time Grafik’Art Show exhibitor. “We thought Friday created the most traffic, however, there was steady traffic at our booth on Thursday and Saturday too,” he said. “What’s even more impressive [is that], MD International, the new authorized C. P. Bourg Dealer, signed and sold at the show a complete tower collating system with BDF Bourg Document Finisher—and have had requests for proposals from multiple prospects.
This being the first Montreal-based graphic trade show Bourg has participated in, I was extremely pleased with the support and turnout from the graphic and digital print community as a whole,” he added.
“Also, the students and graphic designers who attended the show all showed interest in the entire process, from the creation of the idea through the finished product—which you can understand interested us.” Will c.p. Bourg participate in another show in Montreal if asked? “Yes, with pleasure!”
John Thibault, President of Unigraph International, said the show was a very positive experience.
“We were able to thank many of our distributors and printers for their business and discuss future projects,” he said. “We also received a request for our product line from a graphic arts distributor from Algeria! We’re looking forward to developing this relationship.”
“The show gave us the opportunity to exhibit our products and equipment which helps printers reduce their impact on the environment.”
Unigraph International Inc. is a manufacturer of environmentally friendly pressroom chemicals and equipment servicing printers across North America.
This was Terry C. Stapley Co.’s fourth year at the show and president Bob Brickell Sr. showcased several products—cover material from Fibermark North America, displays of the various Ring Metals from US Ring and samples of Wire-O Wire from James Burn—which were used in conjunction with the machinery they displayed. He also made several new contacts which he’s confident will become customers in the near future.
The company specializes in cover material, wire binding and book cover materials for loose-leaf binders, to name a few.
Marc Primeau of Amtech (Analogue Media Technologies Inc.) told me that he met a lot of people at the show who required their services, which include CD/DVD replication.
“A lot of printers get calls from clients needing CDs or DVDs and we can supply them with the best on the market,” he said. “Also, our Taiyo Yuden blank media created a lot of interest at the show.”
Tim Housser, Regional Manager, International Binding & Laminating Systems Inc., was another exhibitor impressed with the quality of leads. “Decision-makers attended and we obtained some solid leads,” he said. “We sold our first IBLS 6000 perfect binder to Cheriton Graphics in Ottawa. It was also a great show for networking and we made a lot of new contacts,” he added.
As you can probably tell, the negatives of Grafik’art were few, although it would have been nice if there was more traffic, shorter registration line-ups and more ramps leading into the show.
Another thought: When I got into this industry 35 years ago, young designers were taught to focus almost entirely on composition, and didn’t seem interested in what was referred to, at the time, as “downstream”—i.e. pre-press, finishing, and so on.
It was very inspiring to see how fascinated visiting students were with almost every facet of production. And while student attendance at these types of shows doesn’t translate into immediate sales, keep in mind that these young people represent the potential printers, production houses, and advertising agencies of the future.
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