Fall paper shows bring print inspiration

It seems like fall marks the busy season for print with multiple paper shows throughout the fall months.

While printers are in the throws of production, it’s a busy time for creatives as well. But also one filled with print inspiration, as the schedule of the industry conferences coincides with print’s busy season.

For suppliers, they’re ramping up production of fabulous promotional materials, full of print inspiration for events like AIGA, Brand New Conference, Adobe Max-The Creative ConferenceLuxe Pack, Print ’17 and UCDA (just to name a few).  All of these events occurred this fall, and the print promotions made available to attendees are as awesome as some of the sessions themselves.

For many designers and print reps, attending even one of these events is a rare occurrence. Given the expense and time restrictions, many businesses just can’t swing it. BUT that doesn’t mean their creative teams have to miss out on all the fab promotions and swag. In just about every major market across North America, there’s a way for creatives to gain access to these very same promotions and even some of the information covered in the sessions. While fall may mean sweater weather for some, but in our industry fall weather = paper shows. 

Paper Shows have been around for a while, and are a means for the local paper merchant (distributor) to showcase their offering of commercial printing papers to their local customer base: printers, graphic designers and in-house marketers.  

Most paper shows tend to occur in the fall, although many local paper merchants offer educational and promotional events all year long. The secret to scoring an invitation lies in developing strong vendor relationships. For designers, the first place to start is with your print rep.

Ask your print rep what paper merchants they use and if they offer any educational/promotional info for creatives. I can assure you most do. Find out who your local paper merchant is, contact them and request for a rep to help you on your print projects.

I promise, you will get a response. The thing is you want to develop a working relationship with them. This means if they help you with a print project, provide samples or print inspiration, pricing and availability info, then you need to support them. I know what you’re thinking – how can you do this if you aren’t actually the one purchasing the paper? Simple…it all comes down to specification. 

 So you’ve got a local paper rep that you’re working with. When it’s time to get a quote from the printer for the project you’re working with the paper rep on, you need to tell the printer what paper you plan to use (the actual paper specs, (ex. Cougar Smooth 100# Cover). Then you need to specify the paper merchant you want the printer to purchase the paper from. Easy peasy.

If you continue to build relationships with your local print and paper suppliers, you will get invited to all kinds of great industry events.  It is also a great time to see great print inspiration from others in the industry.  Most likely you will find out first about new offerings, see the latest paper promotions and get access to amazing resources. 

And when you do get an invitation for a paper show, you definitely want to make sure you attend. This way you’ll stay on their invitation list for future events. My advice is to get to the paper show earlier rather than later. This insures that you have time to see all the vendor booths, asks questions and score the very best print promotions and swag to be had.

Oh, and they’re usually at a pretty nice venue complete with food and drinks.  I recently attended the Millcraft Paper Show in my area, they hold several in their markets and they never disappoint.

I saw some industry friends I haven’t seen in a while and got a bunch of really great print and paper samples. Attending paper shows are a great way to keep current with industry trends, see some amazing print inspiration and mingle with fellow creatives.  

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