A moment of silence at GraphExpo 2011

From GraphExpo 2011 in Chicago

For a brief moment on Sunday, September eleventh, GraphExpo came to a very quiet halt; we all stood still, and we listened while the bagpipe played. Hundreds of GraphExpo visitors stood in the building just outside the main show and paid respects to those who died in the terror attacks of 2001.

The memorial moment was appropriate and respectful.

The color guard exits the hall at the end of the 9-11 memorial service. The event was amazingly quiet, and dignified. No presses, folders or die-cutters could be heard in the background.

At an event where “normal” is the cacophony of paper folding, presses snapping, and bejeweled dancers gyrating in the Xerox booth to music, this few minutes was a reflective break.

Ten years have flashed-by, and GraphExpo has changed dramatically — along with the economy and our industry in general. The 2002 GraphExpo was a fractional reflection of the previous years, but over the years it has grown back to a show that is nearly as big as the heyday (I remember years when the show occupied two large halls at McCormick; now it is just one).

The visitors, about 25,000 total over the four-day event, still come with money in their pockets, and they buy presses and all of the accoutrements of the printing trade. They also learn about e-books, iPads, smart phones and the electronic delivery of documents — all things which characterize the changes we have seen in the last decade.

Though I was not at GraphExpo on 9-11-2001, I know a lot of people who were, and I am grateful that I was at home that day in my quiet suburban home with my family. I remember the stories of shared automobile journeys across the country, of planes abruptly landing in Lincoln, Nebraska, of people hiring taxis to drive them to Pennsylvania from Chicago.

This has been an “interesting” period in our history.

I was glad to have been witness to the moment of silence at GraphExpo 2011, and I salute those who organized and participated in the dignified service.


About Brian Lawler

Brian Lawler is an Emeritus Professor of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and was a Guest Professor at Hochschule München from September, 2021 to September, 2022. He writes about graphic arts processes and technologies for various industry publications, and on his blog, The Blognosticator.
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