2022: A Year of Tepid Transformation for the Post-Pandemic Printing Industry

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Greetings Citizens of the Printerverse! Another year for the printing industry is in the books.

It seems like it zipped by although I can remember how slow the days and weeks felt at the beginning of the year. That is all just a blur now. So much has changed this year, and continues to change as the world reemerges, restructures, and reinvents from the pandemic.

Now that we are in December, it’s the perfect time to reflect on a few topics that were prevalent across the Printerverse in 2022, and what we can learn from them moving forward.


We need them. Everywhere. From graphic communication and trade programs in high school and university to industry vendors and suppliers and on the print customer end, too.

We have a tremendous workforce development problem, that is swiftly moving toward a crisis.

What are you doing about it? Yes, you… and everyone. Not just the schools and teachers and the C-Suite of corps and owners of businesses. We are all responsible.

I have been immersed in workforce and career development for the printing industry since 2013 when the Printerverse booth launched at Graph Expo. I have worked with and spoken with many print organizations and companies who are aligned with the workforce mission, but it isn’t working. If it were, the schools would be turning applicants away instead of celebrating 25 students in the program, and your company would have candidates for all positions knocking on your physical and digital doors.

My perspective on how to transform this comes from my unique vantage point as your Intergalactic Ambassador. Since I don’t have a vested interest to attract people to a specific program, print organization, or company, I can see the bigger picture. In this case, PRINT has a serious branding issue.

Somewhere along the way after spending years jumping up and down and screaming that print wasn’t dead we allowed the digital marketing people to own, cool. That is a significant barrier to getting people interested in looking at a career that involves print. If they are 35 or younger, it’s almost impossible.

When you do your school or company recruiting do not skip over how COOL print is!

Sell the medium before you sell the program or position. Share print samples and show them cool print campaigns and marketing that are out in the world, even if you didn’t produce them. We need to create fans who are excited to be part of the industry – and there is much to be excited about!

Stay tuned for #PrintLife, a Workforce Development Initiative I introduced this year, and hope to roll out in 2023 with financial support from the industry. Until then it’s up to you to transform the perception of print with everyone you meet!


The landscape of print buying has transformed so much over the last three years. Remote working, lack of mentorship and/or education, and online design tools have created unique challenges and unique opportunities for print businesses. As a result, this year I made collaboration with printers the focus of Project Peacock (my print customer education program) and launched ProjectPeacock.TV.

It is imperative that print and marketing service providers make print customer convenience their number one priority and remove all barriers that stand in the way of a sale – including speaking to a human. Websites must be comprehensive and allow print customers to learn about your offerings, get a quote, purchase, upload files, review proofs and give approvals – whenever they want, from wherever they are, on any device they wish to use.

If they do want to speak to a human HELP, don’t sell. There is a big difference. Help requires listening to what they want to do and presenting the most effective and efficient options for execution. Provide pricing for good, better, and best, and let them choose which works best for them.

Check out Project Peacock: Print Production for some printspiration. Each episode shares the creative intention of designers and marketers, and how their printers – with support from their paper and press and technology partners, resolved the issues and delivered what the print customers wanted – even making improvements along the way.


While I am a fan, I am also disappointed that 2022 was not a transformative year. It’s like the 2019 printing event business model was put to sleep and in January 2022 it was rushed out of bed and tasked to pick up where it left off.

There is no future for what was.

2023 events need to bring it or the exhibitors will continue to turn their focus on bringing it themselves. This is currently being done through user conferences, regional events, and roadshows. Shifting away from the larger events with hefty price tags also provides manufacturers the opportunity to create new partnerships and utilize new channels to engage with customers and prospects.

To that point, one of the more successful print industry trade shows has been going on for 2 years – virtually! Check out Printing Expo Online.


The most significant industry transformation took place within the digital and physical walls of print shops around the world. 2022 was the year of optimizing workflow and embracing e-commerce.

Producing for print customers with fewer people and limited supplies meant print shops needed to get nimble and gear up with printing and finishing equipment and software that enabled them to get to YES and get the work to market, faster.

Print businesses that had already invested in equipment and workflow were able to offer marketing technology add-ons and more services for their customers. Personalization and customization of materials and print customer portals were the most topical.

Check out this Podcast Conference (PodCon!) with XMPIE and guests. It’s a roadmap for how to succeed with software that transforms print and packaging into an experience, and your customers into loyal fans of your business.


Last year I was 100% bullish regarding my outlook for 2022. 40% or so of that enthusiasm manifested into something real, the balance reflects what hasn’t transformed. That doesn’t mean I think companies, printing events, and print organizations sat back and did nothing to reestablish their businesses and offerings this year. I completely acknowledge the obstacles, some of which are mentioned above.

For 2023, I am 60% bullish and 40% bearish that we will see the transformative change which opens the industry to new blood and new ways of doing things. I will do my part to contribute to the 60%, stay tuned for some big announcements in January!

To end this post on a positive note, the first-post pandemic drupa is coming up in 2024! That means we should start seeing information about new equipment and technology launches next year and learn more about the future of the industry as the most comprehensive printing industry event in the world begins its announcements. Make sure you follow drupa, everywhere!

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year…



See Deborah’s featured post: Twitter Advertising is Dead. Long Live Print!


See all posts by Deborah


Deborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to the Printerverse at Print Media Centr, a Print Buyerologist, international industry speaker and blogger, and the cultivator of Print Production Professionals, the #1 print group on LinkedIn. She provides printspiration and resources to print and marketing professionals through education, events, Podcasts From The Printerverse, ProjectPeacock.TV, and an array of community-lifting initiatives including Girls Who Print, Elevate Print, #PrintChat, #PrintLife and International Print Day.

Deborah also helps companies create more meaningful and profitable customer relationships by utilizing more than 25 years of experience as an agency, brand, and corporate print buyer who has assessed, hired and worked with a plethora of printers and service providers.

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2 Responses

  1. Wow, it was worth reading, 100%. I do agree that 2022 did not show any solid grounds on which the industry could continue. Yes, there are many so-called stable developments, like inkjet and embellishment in digital. But many of those are just for the happy few, most certainly not for the whole industry.

    In my opinion, we will continue to see a big(ger) ‘gap’ between ‘what used to be’ the stable business model for print and what it is g(r)owing to be…….. The winner(s) take it all, many small(er) businesses will eventually close down, without the bigger one even seeing that.

    So transformation (if we could speak of that at all), will continue just as a relative slow evolution of the print industry, under influence of manay parameters, of which we own ourselfs just very little.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I completely agree that the gap between those who can say YES to any request and those who can’t will create a chasm to big to overcome. It’s the Amazon effect PLUS Vista, Canva and everyone else that invests in technology and customer convenience and experience, first.

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