Johnson's World: Printerly Musings, Observations, and Flashes

Vague musings, name-dropping, streams of consciousness, and occasional flashes of brilliance from Johnson’s World.

July 1, 2012
Steve Johnson10737288

Two hundred years ago a man stopped patronizing his local printers because he was so frustrated with their low quality and poor customer service. He was Alois Senefelder, who is generally credited with the invention of lithography. He was an actor and a playwright by trade.  After a series of negative experiences with the printing of his plays, he was desperate to find a way to a way to print his next play himself.

I find it ironic that the father of the process that led to commercial lithography was actually searching for a method that would only truly come to fruition with today’s digital on-demand printing; namely, the return of control of the content to the creator.


Willis Carrier, inventor of practical air conditioning, first installed his device in a Brooklyn print shop, where it vastly improved the printing process during the summer of 1902. Dimensional instability of the paper was greatly reduced, bringing high quality process color printing one step closer to reality. Pretty cool.


One of our industry’s best kept secrets: I am very handsome, even though you wouldn’t know it by looking at me.


A number of Christmases ago, in another publication that targeted large commercial printers, I wrote a cute little story about holiday colors. When it was published I noticed that I had referred to green as a secondary color of light. Wrong! Green is a primary color of light. You know, RGB: red, green, blue.

Nobody noticed, or at least nobody said anything. Not a word. Not a soul out of 70,000+ graphic arts professionals.

I can’t help wondering, would quick printers have been more observant?


“The ever-changing face of publishing grows more ‘interesting’ by the day. I’m unsure whether we’re at the start of a new gold rush or watching the crew rearrange the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic.” —illustrator Duncan Long


 “I'm not sure about NFC being the future. I'm more in favor of KFC. It’s those 11 herbs and spices that get my vote.” —Gee Ranasinha of Kexino, in response to professor Frank Romano’s commentary about NFC tags versus QR codes.

As for me, I’m confident the Packers will take the NFC again this year.


By 1932 George Eastman, age 77, was barely able to walk and in constant pain from a degenerative spinal disease. The man who had revolutionized photography and founded the Eastman Kodak Company left what may be the most concise suicide note ever: “To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?” He then shot himself in the heart.

My friends, unlike the amazing Mr. Eastman, our work is not done. Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot.


Speaking of which, is it really productive for Crain’s, the National Enquirer of business, to bash rivals Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal (as it did in recent articles) while at the same time highlighting the weaknesses of print publications, which it is?


Wynkyn de Worde is considered by many to be the father of both commercial printing and the mass market book. He was the first printer to open up shop on London’s Fleet Street, which became the journalism capital of the British Empire for 500 years.

His name is immortalized by the Wynkyn de Worde Society, which is sort of Suffolk, England’s answer to the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen.

Speaking of names, Wynken de Worde is an awesome name for a printer. I’m thinking of changing my name to Pryntyn de Mand. Think about it.