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My Color Management Journey

Posted by Mary Song on 8/7/19 7:08 AM

Color Management Before and AfterMy introduction to color management was through a class I took in college. I was an art major with a concentration in photography, continually frustrated and disappointed in the quality and color output of our local print shops. In 2010, during my junior year, my school offered a one-time elective called Advanced Digital Output with Professor Tony Caltabiano. I began to learn about color management, digital printing and how different print facilities handled their color and quality.

Over the next five years, I interned and eventually became an Artist Assistant for Caltabiano Visual Arts, working for two print shops in Los Angeles County. 

Color Management Boot Camp SamplesIn 2015, I moved to Portland, Ore., to work as a Print Operator (and later the Print Production Coordinator) with a fine art print-on-demand facility. It was here that I began to put my knowledge from class to practice. I began to implement color management practices by purchasing an i1 Pro2 and iO Table, but I knew I could learn more about color management from other experts, especially for dye sublimation. After joining SGIA’s membership program, I learned they were hosting color management boot camps. I was able to join ColorCasters at Onyx Graphics’ headquarters in Salt Lake City in May 2018. 

The experience was more than I could have imagined. The knowledge I gained from Jim Raffel and Ray Weiss was worth far more than the price of the class, and I had many takeaways from the experience. They encouraged us to be persistent in taming color management problems in order to have consistent, repeatable and scalable color. One of the strengths of the boot camp is that it is not geared toward any one RIP; the theory and techniques can be applied to any RIP and process.

Tectonics' Color ManagementIn addition to the theory, the hands-on experience was key. We applied the theories we were learning to different printers and substrates. When I returned from the boot camp, I immediately got to work on multiple type printers and processes on different RIPs. I was able to get our facility to print consistently and visually match — including dye sublimation and direct prints — across nine machines and four different types of print processes.

The boot camp sparked an interest in me, and I decided to pursue a career in color management. Six months after the boot camp, I was hired at Tectonics LLC in Auburn Hills, Mich., as their Prepress Automation and Color Manager. I am responsible for the color consistency in three facilities across the United States. Not only have we reduced our ink usage and material waste, but we have taken on elite clients. We have achieved consistent, predictable, scalable and repeatable color while gaining client confidence, expanding our printing and engineering innovations, and reducing overall waste.

Tectonics SignageThe boot camp training has been invaluable in my printing journey. Without the boot camp and certification, I would not be in the position I am today, or have been able to network with fellow color management experts. It has opened a multitude of doors that would not have been open without the certification. I am indebted to ColorCasters, Ray Weiss and the boot camp experience.  

Learn more about upcoming color management boot camps and achieving an SGIA Digital Color Professional Certification

Topics: Printing Industry, Color Management Boot Camp, Color Management, Digital Color Professional Certification