Signs of the Times - December 2013 - (Page 96)

EDITORIALLY SPEAKING "There is a movement to make Cincinnati, OH the 'sign capital of the world'." By Wade Swormstedt Many-Facet Destiny (Un)official, high-level sign-industry activity is omnipresent. As 2013 closes, havestruck by the the past high-level I'm myriad, partnerships that occurred in two years. Most of them involve the Intl. Sign Assn. (ISA), which itself orchestrated a massive, sign-association reorganization this past year. I'll itemize other agreements in a minute. I recently returned from the Specialty Graphics Imaging Assn. (SGIA) show in Orlando, where, for the first time, it co-located with the annual show for the Industrial Fabrics Assn. Intl. (IFAI). The two associations' most common denominator is fabrics/banners. You may be reading while you're at the United States Sign Council's (USSC) Sign World show in Atlantic City. There have been (un)official talks between it and the Intl. Sign Assn. (ISA) about being rejoined, but it's not happening as I speak. USSC seceded from ISA in 1992, when they were the Eastern States Sign Council (ESSC) and the National Electric Sign Assn. (NESA), respectively. Yet each organization's leader endorses any collaboration that will promote sign-industry growth. From Nancy Maren, USSC's executive director: "At this time, the United States Sign Council and its Board of Directors are open to the possibility of cooperation on joint projects, which would result in a better business environment for its membership and the sign industry as a whole, with any of the industry-related associations." From Lori Anderson, ISA's president: "ISA is interested in furthering and uniting the overall industry in support of the growth of the industry. We strive to work with any organizations that have the growth of the sign industry as their primary mission." On the tangible side, for 2014, Lori has told me the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) "has developed a full-day workshop to launch at the [2014] ISA Sign Expo, focusing on placemaking, branded environments, accessibility and technology. In addition, SEGD has proposed three education sessions which will be part of the ISA Architectural Design Track. This new collaboration does not replace the existing events that SEGD coordinates separately - the ISA/SEGD collaboration is a different and new approach toward bringing together these communities." In April, for the first time, ISA had a Dynamic Digital Park (DDP) at its annual Sign Expo (with 19 participating exhibitors, as I recall). Conversely, ISA sponsored a digital-printing pavilion at the Print 13 show in July in Chicago, where companies familiar to the sign industry exhibited. Both activities will be repeated in 2014, and Lori anticipates a 60-70% increase of the DDP. Internationally, ISA will partner with Serigrafia, a Brazilian print show. 96 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / DECEMBER 2013 / Two years ago, the National Assn. of Sign Supply Distributors (NASSD) came back under the wing of ISA, although, ironically, it originally formed about the same time as ESSC seceded, because sign-supply distributors didn't believe NESA was giving them enough attention. Also, two years ago, the Professional Decal Application Alliance (PDAA) became an official subsidiary of SGIA. Finally, in a much more futuristic vein, there is a movement to make Cincinnati, OH the "sign capital of the world". Right now, one could rationally identify the University of Cincinnati (UC) as the leading U.S. institution of higher learning with regard to the sign industry. It's hosted all five National Signage Research & Educational Conferences (NSREC); it has two endowed chairs related to signage, and its research department has conducted several sign-industry studies. Additionally, the American Sign Museum resides less than a mile from UC. Yes, efforts are being made to bring the museum under the auspices of UC. At NSREC, UC issued a brochure that outlined its grand plan for its Communication in the Urban Environment (CUE) Research Center, and efforts to purchase buildings that surround the sign museum. Cincinnati is also home to a century-old, signindustry trade magazine. Reputable, I'm told. Finally, the crowning achievement would be ISA moving to Cincinnati. A few hundred calls have floated the idea to prominent sign-industry people, and there is interest. Calling such an effort preliminary might even be premature, but the idea is submitted for your perusal. As a general rule, I wholeheartedly endorse partnerships (in which the participants remain independent entities) that help spread sign-industry gospel. My brow furrows at organizational mergers, because I initially assume they're power grabs, and I view them as potential silencers of voices. So, although I typically write about what is, and less about conjecture, my purpose here is to get people thinking. Ideally, the wisdom of industry consensus will hold sway. Conversely, the worst thing would be signindustry members who operate in isolation and view all of this as inconsequential, alphabet-soup drivel. ■

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - December 2013

Signs of the Times - December 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Electric
LED Update
Software Update
Technology Review - Universal Laser’s ILS9.75 and ILS12.75 platform lasers
Technology Review - CET Color’s 500K X-Press flatbed, UV-cure printer
New Products
The Hands Have It
Digital Print Update
The First Neon Sign in America
The USSC Design Awards
Advertising index
Editorially speaking

Signs of the Times - December 2013