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Monday, January 28, 2013

For font fanatics and fashionistas: Do-it-yourself newspaper-printed nails

Did you know: 

  1. A commercially available kit from a mainstream cosmetics manufacturer costing about $15 lets you transfer the printed text of your choice onto your nails?
  1. Beauty bloggers  and videographers have also uncovered a do-it-yourself (DIY) method to achieve the same fashionable effect using standard household manicure materials, printed newspaper scraps, and rubbing alcohol or vodka?
Absolutely true.  A nail tutorial by cutepolish on YouTube (picture above and link below) and numerous other on-line offerings show you how.
I’m no expert, but the DIY steps go something like this:
  1. Paint your nails with 2 coats of any light-coloured nail polish and allow to dry.
  2. One at a time, dip each nail for about 5 seconds in rubbing alcohol, vodka, or other clear, distilled spirits. 
  3. Place a scrap of printed newspaper text, comic strips, etc., face down on the nail.  Press down gently on the paper for 15 seconds (but don’t wiggle it around or the text will smudge).
  4. Slowly remove the newsprint.
  5. Seal the printing thus transferred onto your nails with a clear topcoat.  
Please let me know what results you achieve with this procedure, if you try it, and whether or not the same technology works equally well for both fingers and toes.

PS:  Before applying, did any of you chicsters give any thought to font or content?  What were your selection criteria for choosing the text?

Addendum on Friday 8 February 2013:

It turns out this post has generated some lively discussion on LinkedIn under the heading "Hey girls, has anyone ever tried a newspaper-print manicure?" at:

One reader suggested cutting your own strips of newsprint or magazines and applying them with a base and top coat like papier maché.  So I Googled “nail stickers” and discovered a thriving market--both for miniature decals that you stick in the middle of your nails as ornaments and full-coverage nail-shaped stickers that you apply like wallpaper and then trim away the excess—along exactly the same lines as the reader had suggested!  It seems that some ingenious printer out there had precisely the same idea.

Prompted by other comments, I also discovered that fashion bloggers and videographers are promoting a procedure they call “map nails”. Besides cartographers, perhaps this style of printing-inspired manicures would hold special appeal for travel buffs or people in transportation fields: 

Still another option is "music nails":  Someone has successfully applied snippets of sheet music for a violin intermezzo to her fingernails, but suggests the technique would work just as well with sheet music for your favourite song.

Then there are cases of applying an individual letter of the alphabet to each fingernail to spell out words, using either hand-painted letters or nail stickers:

Addendum Wednesday 13 February 2013:

Further new discoveries prompted by our LinkedIn discussion are a couple of on-line cases where graphic designers have used either rubbing alcohol or a product called rub-on transfer paper to apply miniature computer-printed images to their nails. I guess with a logo the tricks would be: (1) reversing the image so it wouldn’t turn out backwards, and (2) making sure it stays legible while shrinking it small enough to fit your pinkie.

It turned out that another commenter’s idea of putting letters of the alphabet on fingernails to spell out words isn't a terribly common practice for Internet manicurists--but I did find a few cases of either hand-painted or stick-on letters:

Perhaps the coup de grâce is that--believe it or not--YouTube offers several tutorials on putting QR codes on your fingernails!

However, the letters or designs in most of these last two sets of links are applied by nail artists who are patient, steady-handed, ambidextrous, and all-around skillful enough to paint the motifs on by hand.  I therefore get the impression it's not possible to scan the QR-code designs. 

So please let me know as soon as someone upgrades the technology to make them scanable.

Ontario MPP champions ex-employees of closed Fort Erie Vertis plant

On Friday, former employees of Vertis Communications staged a public-information rally and picket line outside the company's now defunct printing plant in Fort Erie, Ontario.  When it closed the plant suddenly last week, its U.S.-based owner refused to pay them termination and severance, which is required under Canadian law.

The Liberal Minister of Provincial Parliament for Niagara Falls, Ontario, Kim Craitor (right), attended the rally and told the Niagara Falls Review:  "[Vertis] basically, in my opinion, premeditated the murder of this Canadian plant."

Craitor added that, although Vertis had a longstanding strategic plan in place to close the Canadian plant, it gave the employees "false expectations that things were going to be okay there."

"People should know what this company has done to them," he asserted. 

Update on 11 March 2013:

The ex-workers have asked both the federal and provincial govrnments to step in and help them recover the money they feel is owed to them.
Recently, Welland Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Cindy Forster and Welland  federal Member of Parliament (MP) Malcolm Allen, both members of the New Democratic Party, visited the workers on the picket line as a show of solidarity. Ms. Forster and Mr. Allen have both raised the ex-workers’ issue in the provincial Legislature and federal House of Commons respectively.
Mr. Craitor has also visit their picket line and has been in regular contact with union officials to offer whatever assistance is available from his office.  Along with Jim Thibert, general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation, Mr. Craitor also attended last Thursday’s court hearing of an injunction motion filed by Quad/Graphics against the union

More background on this story is available at:

Update on 8 May 2013:

Another politician sympathetic to the plight of ex-Vertis workers is Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi, who wrote to his counterpart in Ottawa asking the federal government to intervene on the workers' behalf.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Printing's key role in the 157th U.S. Presidential Inauguration

Earlier this week, when I was having a bad day, one of my more generous LinkedIn connections, Mr. Kevin Keane, an attorney and President and CEO of IAPHC in Minneapolis-St. Paul, threw me a lifeline in the form of a YouTube video link.  It illustrates the care and pride with which Ms. Davita Vance-Cooks, Acting Public Printer, and other staff of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) developed and produced essential printed collateral for Monday’s 57th Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. 

The GPO’s contributions to this momentous occasion include invitations, stationery, program packet kits, parking passes, maps, signage, 280,000 colour-coded tickets to the inauguration ceremony, and over 10,000 secure-access credentials.

What especially thrills me about the video is the reminder it provides of the ages-old connection between printing and democracy.  Its commentaries include Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, pointing out that Monday’s swearing-in ceremony was not only the inauguration of the American president but also a celebration of democracy, free elections, and the peaceful transfer of political power.

I am writing this post within view of a free-giveaway poster I once collected at a printing trade show and liked so much (despite its archaic wording that forgets to include women) that I had it laminated and hung it on my office wall.  It reads:


Without him, tyrants and humbugs in all countries would have their own way.  He is a friend of intelligence and thought, a friend of liberty, of freedom, of law, indeed, the friend of every man who is a friend of order.

Of all inventions, of all discoveries in science and art, of all the great results in the wonderful progress of mechanical energy and skill, the PRINTER is the only product of civilization necessary to the existence of free men.

- Charles Dickens, 1850

Thank you, Kevin Keane and Charles Dickens, for reminding me that printing matters in the same way that politics and law and journalism matter.  I recognize these truths as well as anyone, because my father’s cousin, Hugh Gaitskell, was Britain’s Leader of the Opposition from 1955 to 1963, and because every journalist worth her salt knows that "The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing" (Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism).  But sometimes, when I lose sight of what matters in the mire of everyday living, I’m grateful that there are positive influencers like you to help lift our baser thoughts up into the higher sphere where the best of human achievements are possible.

PS:  I should also mention it was Mr. Keane who recently drew my attention to the delicious irony that, after Google caused a huge kafuffle earlier this month by trying to instigate a Paperless 2013 campaign, Google Creative Labs turned around and won USA Today’s first $1-million print advertising contest.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sudden closure of Canada’s only Vertis plant leaves 100 workers seeking compensation, 3 U.S. closures to follow

Suddenly last week, the only Canadian plant owned by Vertis Holdings Inc. was shut down in Fort Erie, Ontario, leaving about 100 staff without jobs or the advance notice, termination, and severance required under Canadian law.  The closure occurred simultaneously with last week’s completion of the acquisition of most of Vertis’s assets by Quad/Graphics (both American companies), a process that began last October in which Vertis is reported to have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to facilitate the sale (after a similar filing only two years previously).  The Fort Erie plant is among at least four Vertis facilities that were not included in the purchase.

Jim Thibert, general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation, tells the Fort Erie Times that Quad Graphics took over operations at the now defunct plant last year but does not find it feasible to keep the Canadian location open.  "They don't want a plant in Fort Erie because they have nothing to do with Canada," he says.

In a media release, Dan Wickson, president of Communications, Energy and Paperworks Union of Canada (CEP)  Local 425-G, which represents the Vertis employees, says many of them have worked for the company for most of their lives.  The release says CEP is currently in discussions with legal counsel, the Town of Fort Erie and its development agency, and the local Member of Provincial Parliament while the union decides on its next move.  Since Vertis is based in the U.S.A., Wickson predicts in the Fort Erie Times that employees will likely have to file a claim for their severance and termination pay in a U.S. bankruptcy court.

Quad/Graphics director of corporate communications Claire Ho tells PrintCan that U.S. facilities also left out of the Quad/Graphics transaction that are slated to close in the next 60 to 90 days are located in Dallas, Texas; Medina, Ohio; and North Brunswick, New Jersey.
Any thoughts or further predictions regarding fiscal, legal, and moral responsibility and outcomes in this matter?

More financial data at:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

More about the inner workings of university in-plants

I want to be the first to point out an error in the third paragraph of the printed version of my January column for PrintAction, "Inside University In-plants":

In the text, where Chris Panagopoulos, Manager, Publishing and Printing Operations at York University, describes conditions when he began working at York in 2008, he says:  "Back then we were printing between 30- to 40-million course kits annually".  However, the text should have read:  "30- to 40-million impressions annually".

Additionally, referring to the article’s sixth paragraph, Mr. Panagopoulos informs me that although 75 percent of his customers chose to submit hard copies of exams for printing in high-security delivery bags, they also have the option of submitting exams via a secure FTP site or password-protected e-mail.

(You'll notice that the text has been corrected accordingly at the above digital link.)  

Another point of interest is that, in quantifying his Publishing Department’s mammoth responsibility for copyrights, Mr. Panagopoulos tells me that each of the up-to-2,000 copy-right protected items they handle may consist of as many as 30 different articles, periodicals, or business cases—each requiring permission and payment for reproduction rights.

Finally, because I especially regret that with the printed article we didn't have enough space to include portraits of Heather Hersemeyer, President of CUPMAC (College and University Print Management Association of Canada, left) and Peter Klit, Secretary/Treasurer of CUPMAC (right), both of whom were so generous in providing information about both their association and their own in-plant operations, I have included their photos in this post.

In case you’re wondering, the editors of PrintAction decided to bring you another article about the esoteric world of in-plant printers based on the large amount of interest we tracked on LinkedIn and other social media platforms to our June-2012 profile of a hospital in-plant:  “Running a Healthy In-plant”

We trust that  these and other articles are meeting your need for information on the latest industry and economic news and emerging technology and trends.

But if not, just let us know.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ryerson's GCM program to host international conference, Prof Art Seto wins Dean’s Award

Two news items from Ryerson University's Graphic Communications Management (GCM) program in Toronto (Canada's only 4-year degree-level program dedicated to graphic arts studies):

Firstly, from June 2-6, 2013, GCM will host the 45th Conference of the International Circle of Educational Institutes for Graphic Arts, Technology and Management (IC) for the first time in North America.

IC is an informal network with about 100 members, founded in 1957 in Lausanne, Switzerland by a group of European universities.  Dr. Wolfgang Faigle, Prorector of the Stuttgart Media University (HdM), has been its president since 2006. 

IC’s 2013 conference will explore scientific and educational topics from the fields of Graphic Arts Technology, Management, and Communication in a broader sense.  Conference organizers have issued a call for papers, inviting people from the printing and allied industries, anyone whose job involves research, former GCM students, students pursuing a graduate degree, or those who have completed a graduate degree to submit an abstract of research findings for presentation at the conference.  Submission deadlines are listed below:

1st Call for Papers:  Authors of abstracts submitted by February 1, 2013 will be notified of the results of peer review by February 25, 2013.

2nd Call for Papers:  Abstracts will continue to be accepted until the final deadline of April 1, 2013. Authors of papers submitted between February 1 and April 1, 2013 will be advised of the results of the selection by April 22, 2013.

Further guidelines for abstracts, conference details, and registration are now available on line:

Secondly, it give me extreme pleasure to brag that Art Seto of GCM (left) is the 2012 recipient of the Dean’s Award--the first time a GCM faculty member has been awarded this honour.  Professor Seto’s notable achievements include transforming a dreaded estimating course and two semesters of bindery into some of the program’s most popular course offerings.  

Sincere congratulations on this well deserved recognition for teaching excellence, Art.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New U.S. trade association for small printing company owners

A group of 19 American owners of small-to-medium-sized print shops has founded the National Print Owners Association, Inc. (NPOA), a new trade association providing services and products specifically geared to what for years was called the Quick-Printing segment of the industry. Serving as the new association’s Acting Executive Director is John C. Stewart of Melbourne, Florida. 
Mr. Stewart is president of QP Consulting, Inc. and for years has published statistical studies in the printing and mailing industries (until recently including studies for the National Association of Quick Printers [NAQP]).  In recent months, on his blog and Website, Mr. Stewart has reported the absence of a trade association to serve the needs and interests of small commercial printers effectively, as well as concerns over the plummeting membership numbers, high dues and overhead, and top-down leadership of existing organizations.
Incorporated on December 3, NPOA was first launched on December 21 on the popular list server at, owned by Mike Stevens of, then via a 30,000-address e-mail campaign on January 2.

In an effort to keep fees low enough that even the smallest printers can afford to join, NPOA is charging $275 for annual dues after January 31, or $225 as an introductory offer for printers who join by the end of this month.  They have already launched their own discussion group on LinkedIn and have scheduled their first Owner’s Conference to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, from April 19-21, 2013.

Are you interested in joining NPOA?  Do you have any predictions on how the new association will fare?

Update on 25 February 2012:

This morning, while completing an article on the start-up of NPOA for the March issue of PrintAction, I was impressed to discover on the new association's Website that their April conference has sold out at 110 registrations and their membership count now stands at 254--pretty fast work for an organization that only became legally incorporated less than three months ago.