Learnings from the print and packaging pilgrimage on the Jury Day

The best gyaan I have ever received about printing was 33 years ago. As a young man, I was told, “You should have thought of that before you got us into this mess.”

13 Jan 2020 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Ramu Ramanathan, editor, PrintWeek and WhatPackaging? magazines

I’ve pinned the note inside my brain, ever since.

Those were the days I was interested in learning about print. I had not studied in a print school or an engineering college, but I was surrounded by a learning environment.

I never studied metallurgy science nor colour theory. But the advantage I had was I spent time with font and typeface designers, the visual artists and photographing community, architects and artisans, and public intellectuals. It was a seamless integration of multiple disciplines. I saw ink on paper and other substrates through their eyes. They were reconstructing their experience through imagination, innovation, and ingenuity.

This is the eleventh year of the PrintWeek Awards. Other than the joy of seeing and feeling the thousands of samples, it has also been about the total reconfiguration of the brain cells. Cognitive tools that combine with creativity.

Over the eleven years, one mantra has been has been the backbone of the Awards. Most of the companies that have dared to win have done so because they have asked the question: How do you know you don’t have talent till you try it?

Business is business. But creating awesome work requires cognitive rewiring.

One of our jury members shared this with me: “Analysis instead of creativity – that’s what we have been taught from childhood. All of us analyse and store that information. What we require is a foundation which helps us re-imagine and recapture the true cognitive possibilities.”

Quite true. Because the shortcut to comfort is called specialisation. Things have become fragmented and compartmentalised and complicated. If you need to learn something new, you have to interface through the latest upgrade or download the newest app.

Life is simple, and so is a lot of print. It’s like that tale of the frog in the well that meets the centipede with its 100 feet. The frog, genuinely excited, asks the centipede: “How do you know which foot to put forward when?” The centipede pauses for a bit. The frog hands over the visiting card of an MBA consultant plus a training program. After a year or so, when the centipede has a PhD degree, he meets the frog. When he tries to walk, he realises he has forgotten how to walk. Now the centipede is thinking about which foot he has to place first.

This is what has happened to learning.

We have become more and more savvy but less and less learning oriented.

Learning is the most natural thing that the human race (and indeed our industry) has been doing.

And this is the thing, the PrintWeek Awards has been trying to celebrate for eleven years.

I thank all the companies that participated in 2019. You have helped all of us, my team and the Jury Team, learn a lot. Print and packaging has been considered two-dimensional by most. It’s like imagining the map of India. Our rational brain looks at the map two dimensionally, and so, Delhi is on the top and Kanyakumari is down below.

The print and packaging pilgrimage (Jury Day ) on October 31 at Hotel Sofitel in BKC altered that for me. The senses were made alive. Traditional reasoning was challenged. New formulas were conjured.

And that’s what makes the PrintWeek Awards special.

Print Zindabad. Packaging Zindabad.