Industry Influencer: Christine Yardley

Christine Yardley, president of Print Panther Direct, stands next to the company’s newly acquired printer while wearing the black tuxedo jacket she embellished with silver holographic foil.

Christine Yardley believes the world of art and design often pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with print. And she loves to push those boundaries. The industry veteran, who now serves as president of Print Panther Direct, a commercial print services company located in Oakville, Canada, has worked hard to make sure her company is poised to be a part of the print evolution.

PostPress posed questions to Yardley to tap into her embellishment expertise, get her thoughts on emerging trends and discover how Print Panther Direct pushes the boundaries of print.

What excites you the most about the print and embellishment industry?

Evolving our print to meet our clients’ needs is both what excites us and keeps us in our leadership position. Being able to offer specialty inks and embellishments pushes our business beyond commodity print. Beyond CMYK.

We want to print print that matters. If that can create or recreate a brand – then we have succeeded.

How did your career develop in the print industry?

I did not start out owning a printing company. I was a typographer. I loved and breathed typography. That abruptly changed in 1984, and I remember thinking we had lost an art form. But technology won out and today I see that in the printing industry as well. Digital embellishments have defined our business. Technology is winning again. But this time I am so ready for it. I guess practice makes perfect.

You’ve said embellished print is next-generation print. Explain what you mean by that.
Next-generation print is technology driven but at the same time evokes emotion. It maintains and sustains a true sense of purpose. Better print, better future.

Seven years ago, when we embarked upon our embellishment journey, we were not thinking about tactile engagement, emotional connection, perceived value or packaging psychology. I am quite certain most printers did not think about it. We just knew our clients wanted more. And technology was a great place to start in wanting more for the printed page.

What trends are emerging in design and production that will influence the future of the print and embellishment industry?

Brands will continue to strive to reinforce their connection with their consumers, and the ones that innovate and stay current and relevant with all the facets of their brand are the ones most likely to keep succeeding. The physical appeal of print must communicate its relevance with its contemporary look and tactile feel. We live in an age where people expect change and “newness” to keep them engaged. Embellished print engages.

Talk about the digital printing process Giclee and how Print Panther Direct is using it with digital embellishment.

We work with artists and designers who continually explore embellishment techniques to create visually stunning and thought-provoking pieces. Giclee prints are extremely high-quality, archival-grade, digital prints that use an ultra-fine inkjet printing process to produce images of intense color and vibrancy. Embellishment with digital foils and spot varnish add another dimension to giclee prints, making each print a unique and collectable, stunning piece of artwork.

Which markets are growing the use of embellishments in print? What is influencing that growth?

The science behind the focused power of embellished print is a multifaceted field that combines design, psychology and marketing. Understanding the influence of print – especially when enhanced with embellishments – can shape consumer behavior and drive brand success no matter the industry. Brands now are understanding that.

What are your predictions for the print industry in the next five to 10 years?
I was reading an article I wrote for back in 2018. An excerpt mentions that the volume of digital print enhancement and embellishment printing was growing at a rate of 27% CAGR from 2015 to 2020 and was expected to reach 25 billion pages of embellished printing by 2020. With the pandemic, I am not sure that happened. Regardless, [the quoted report] also found that profit margins on digitally embellished pieces range from 50% to over 400%! This should excite any printers reading this right now, as it stands to radically transform the growth rate of their businesses.

One of the reasons for this opportunity is simply to add value to digital print pages, but there is an interesting synergy between digital print and CMYK+ special effects. CMYK+ allows high-value effects to be done affordably in shorter runs and with quicker turnarounds than with conventional methods. The personalization capabilities of digital print also make it possible not only to add the special effect, but also to make each printed piece unique. So, I guess my predictions have not changed in the last five years. They still hold true. High-value effects = happy clients and additional profit.

How does having the right equipment change your business?

Print Panther Direct has built a great team of young people with transformative ideas and no fear of technology.

The acquisition of our new Konica Minolta MGI JETvarnish 3D Evolution with its larger sheet size opens up exactly the kinds of opportunities we like to seize and our clients like to take advantage of. Brands always will be about their emotional pull as well as their physical appeal, and the two should be inexorably linked.

Just as their emotional appeal must keep abreast of the latest consumer insights, so the physical appeal, has to communicate its relevance with its contemporary look and tactile feel. We live in an age where people expect change and “newness” to keep them engaged.

What inspired you to create your black tux with silver holographic foil?

I love the bling; I am not an overly blingy person though. So having fun with the gold foil dress I did during the pandemic and now the more serious business black tux with holographic is just about putting a little fun into the workday. I remember when we first acquired our Xerox Iridesee Press with fluorescent pink specialty ink – the staff all donned “Hot Hot Hot” T-shirts and we danced to the song “Hot Hot Hot” by Arrow. When the artist was asked why he wrote this song, his reply was, “‘Feeling Hot Hot Hot’ makes you forget that there’s a volcano and remember there’s fun to be had.” That is why I do what I do. There is fun to be had.