Carden Park left delegates energised and full of ideas


#ACPMEConf18 was a memorable few days. The programme was crammed with relevant CPD training, engaging speakers, active participation, fun social events, valuable networking, relevant supplier engagement and something to ensure every delegate returned to their office re-energized, bursting with ideas and feeling part of a supportive network.  Read more below.


Welcome and tribute to Steve Marlow

As folk took their seats, Monday morning started with a tribute to our dear friend and colleague Steve Marlow. We shared fond memories as we reflected on being ‘Marlowed’. Then, as Steve would have wanted, it was on with the show. Our Chair, Simon Hampton-Matthews opened the conference formally and introduced the first of our terrific speakers.

Dave Birss – ‘What the F**K is creativity?’

Brandishing an electric guitar, a blues slide and harmonica, Dave Birss kicked off with a memorable keynote that attempted to demystify the ubiquitous and often misplaced word ‘creativity’. Creativity. Is it a noun? The ad industry call ads ‘the creative’. Folk that make ads – they’re ‘Creatives’. is it an adjective? OMG she’s so ‘creative’!

Dave debunked the idea that it’s an innate gift that some people have and others don’t. Running around with oversized Post-Its, he had us thinking about how creativity is a process and how it takes hard work – far from the misconceived realm of tormented geniuses effortlessly picking masterpieces from the air.

He looked at how amazing humans (that’s all of us) have made all-sorts from the beginning of time – even the dog – and he shot holes in ineffective practices like ‘brainstorms’ that stifle rather than enable ideas and how ‘disruption’ is a concept we should forget about.

Whizzing through his career in advertising, music and writing, Dave used his musical instruments to demonstrate how structure can be enabling: first generated, repeated, developed iteratively, embellished and crafted just like ideas.

We looked at ways to tackle problems in different ways and how to get our minds into the right place to come up with ideas by feeding them properly – most ideas involve recombining existing ideas and improving upon them (we’re not plagiarists). Dave left us feeling more able to develop productive creative habits and ready to tackle the world – one step at a time.

Our international guests

The lucky task of following Dave’s performance fell to our overseas visitors.

First up, was returning Association of College and University Printers (ACUP+) Treasurer, Bob Donahue. Bob skimmed through his last 12 years as Director of Purchasing, Mail and Printing Solutions at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio – offering a wealth of tips to ensure university in-house print facilities are ‘Fit for the Future’.

Next up was John Myles, VP of the Network of In-house Print Professionals Australia (NIPPA) and Imaging Device Project Manager at Sydney TAFE University. John discussed sustainability and the importance of expertise in data security, as well as the importance of having clear business cases that demonstrate the many benefits and value in-house provide. 

Creating impactful video for social media: a masterclass

Jonathan Walters, team manager of award-winning digital professionals within Loughborough University’s Marketing and Advancement department presented the first session of Monday afternoon.

With examples of old videos and modern best practice, Jonathan plotted his personal career alongside key developments in the rapidly changing world of online video – from the time consuming and low resolution world of the late 90s media encoders and bit rates, to a summary of today’s most influential social media platforms.

Among the tips were considerations of channel specific video orientation (I confess I didn’t know Instagram shot portrait video), the fundamental importance of knowing why you’re shooting video at all, effective content creation and even how his team successfully recruited for staff recently – by setting interviewees a fast-turnaround practical movie making test using iPads.   

Planning for future success

Lifetime Honorary member of ACPME and former Director of Media Services at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Duncan Hurst, followed briefly, about the information pack produced for ACPME members.  The papers focus exclusively on topics that will directly benefit print managers and their teams to deliver true value for money and, equally important, help them demonstrate their strategic value to their university managers. They also include information for members who may suddenly find themselves under threat of being outsourced.

Diversification into flatbed

The final delegate session on Monday saw in-house entrepreneur Ian Wilcox,  Print Centre Manager at the University  of Southampton, share how his team’s large format business has grown through investment in commercial flatbed equipment. It was abundantly clear in-house teams  have an enormous opportunity to expand large format services– to improve their service to their institutions and to save very considerable funds.


AGM and Platinum suppliers

Tuesday opened with the AGM, followed by our 2018 Platinum suppliers (Antalis, EBB, EFI, HP, Konica Minolta and Sharp) who had the opportunity to tell us about their latest news in a quick-fire session.

The GDPR opportunity

Mark Davies, Managing Director of Whistl (Doordrop Media) Ltd was next to take to the stage. In a fact-filled hour, Mark presented compelling data to show how GDPR legislation is already having a positive impact on the redirection of marketing budgets towards traditional printed Direct Mail.

Mark talked us through facts like how Direct Marketing requires a lower burden of proof to demonstrate legitimate interest, how it remains opt-out post GDPR / e-Privacy directives and how it offers the widest reach of any marketing channel. The message was compelling: the truth is almost half of digital advertising is not seen at all. The trend away from digital only campaigns is likely to continue – print is far from dead. His PowerPoint is available to all delegates.

Thinking Effectiveness – helpful and hindering thoughts and the Go M.A.D. Thinking Results Framework – the key ingredients to success

Either side of lunch we enjoyed a stimulating session from Julie Measures of Go M.A.D. Thinking. Using a series of quick quizzes, open discussion and tying each other in knots with string (more accurately trying to untie ourselves), Julie introduced a solution-focused thinking methodology to enable delegates to make more of a difference.

We looked at having strong reasons for doing things, defining clear goals, planning priorities before taking action, having the self-belief that we can, and will, make a difference, the importance of involving others, taking personal responsibility, taking action and measuring results. By applying the Go M.A.D. Thinking Framework quickly within the session we were able to see how better thinking may well accelerate our results, improve productivity and enable change. This was one of several sessions that left delegates clamouring for the books.

How to promote like a ninja

Back by popular demand, following presentations in 2015 and 2017, Tony Harmer brought off-the-wall energy, tips and humour to the last of Tuesday’s sessions.

Tony, an Adobe Certified Expert and Instructor, demonstrated the interoperability within Creative Cloud and enthused about the integration of mobile tools into design workflows to accelerate production. With live demos, Tony revealed a handful of the time-saving additions within familiar applications including PhotoShop (such as focus-based selection) and introduced brand new software (like Adobe Spark that can apply Instagram-like effects across whole documents in seconds). He revealed how gestures are being incorporated into interfaces, described how AI is set to transform the way we use software and showed the power of the Adobe CC Library to manage assets.

The hour flashed by in a blur of wizardry as Tony moved seamlessly from app to app with the swipe of a finger. Before we knew it, our Awards judge was wishing everyone good luck for the evening’s awards.

ACPME Creative and Print Awards

On the second evening, the ACPME Creative and Print Awards marked the pinnacle of the ACPME year. There were more submissions than ever before. Resplendent in penguin suits and glamorous gowns we applauded each others’ excellent work and celebrated those judged to be this year’s category winners.


Colour management masterclass

Jan Edgecombe from Revolution Digital kicked-off the final morning at Dunston Hall with a practical session using the Roland VG540, Versaworks and ColorGate RIPs. Delegates were shown how to save time and cost while increasing quality. Jan gave a rapid-fire masterclass in RIP settings for images and graphics, file settings for Adobe software, media profile choices and their effects on output quality, how to save ink and printer process control.

The art of brilliance

Sometimes events just fizzle towards a close as tired delegates drift away. Not #ACPMEConf18. Dr of Happiness – yes, you read that right – Andy Cope delivered a hilarious closing keynote that sent us home super-charged. Side-splittingly accurate in his irreverent observations about how we choose to live our lives and carrying serious messages about the choices we make everyday. The Doctor from Derby was simply brilliant.

The session was crammed full of inspiring advice, anecdotes, funny stuff and big questions that got us pondering how we each have the power to transform our lives and the lives of the folk that surround us.

It might seem flippant to say we could all do well to remember that positive attitudes get positive results and that deciding to be the best version of us we can be will transform our lives. Andy showed us, with scientific evidence and without a hint of preachy-ness, that positive thinking is the single most important factor that separates the happiest and most successful 2% of the population from those who choose to walk around with the weight of the world on their shoulders, who stress about how **** Mondays are on Sunday night, who run around like blue-arsed flies worried about how important they appear and who dream about the joy of retirement. What if there’s no pot of gold over there at the end of the rainbow? What if we’re standing on the rainbow right now?

Andy explained how ‘shine’ can leak out of us and ‘infect’ those around us if we let it. We’ve probably never squirmed at the thought of what folk eating sarnies at our own funerals might recall of us on the day we’re dispatched. Andy’s probably right though. It’s unlikely to be ‘Wow!  He owned loads of stuff’ or ‘She rolled out an impressive MFD fleet’, rather what kind of people we were. If we shine during our 4,000 week gig (average life expectancy), we will not only enjoy radiant lives, but enable others to shine and stand a pretty good chance of lighting up our own funerals.

The queue to purchase Andy’s books, rather than check out of the hotel, spoke for itself. Andy had nudged us persuasively towards rediscovering our energy, happiness and purpose.

It’s no coincidence text messages went around the following morning about how delegates had jumped out of bed and fist-pumped the air in celebration of not waking up with toothache – one of Andy’s tips to ensure everyday starts with a positive.

That’s how #ACPMEConf18 left folk feeling. Recharged, lucky to have great friends across the UK and genuinely more ‘Fit for the Future’


The members of the ACPME express their sincere thanks to our platinum and silver sponsors (below) for exhibiting and/or sponsoring activities during our conference.

The exhibition marquee was overflowing with products and services that were of direct interest to our delegates – the purchasing decision makers from the university creative and print sector.

We hope the networking allows our suppliers to develop and grow their business and look forward to welcoming them to #ACPMEConf19 at Carden Park in Cheshire.

Here’s what a few delegates had to say about ACPMEConf19…

What an amazing conference!

Well organised, fantastic location, great speakers… What more can I say?

As a new member from an FE College I wasn’t sure what to expect but the conference certainly exceeded any expectations I had. I have come away with so many new ideas and made great new contacts.

A huge thanks to everyone involved, see you next year in Cheshire!

Sam Holt

Design & Print Team Leader, Wakefield College

Although a newcomer to the conference, I knew from others that it would be a very welcoming environment. I can only say I found it to be just that and more – a very friendly and open environment with people happy to share ideas. The scheduled talks were both inspiring, and on a more practical level, also useful, and the marquee was also a good place to be, with sponsors happy to answer questions. Good company, food and wine – came home happy and motivated!

Rona McNicol

Customer Account Coordinator, Graphics & Print Services, University of Stirling

For being a newbie to the conference I would like to thank you for welcoming me to the group. The event was well organised; the pictures are amazing that captured the essence of the event. I got a lot out of the event with the speakers and exhibitors. Will be in touch soon to arrange visits to see similar facilities… Thanks again Jacqueline.

Jacqueline Turner

Facilities Service Manager, Glasgow Caledonian University

Interested in exhibiting at conference and sponsoring the ACPME Awards?

Take a closer look at our conference packages for suppliers. It’s a unique opportunity to meet heads of service, creative and print managers and their key operational staff in one location. Discover more here 

Find out more

To discuss membership, sponsorship opportunities or annual conference please contact 
Jennie Mort, ACPME Administrator: 01527 893675 |
Contact address: Seven Elms, Dark Lane, Astwood Bank, Redditch, Worcestershire B96 6HB

Or feel free to contact members of our Board
Details here

The Association of Creative and Print Managers in Education, a not for profit private company, limited by guarantee. Registered in England and Wales No. 10244428. Registered address: Seven Elms, Dark Lane, Astwood Bank, Redditch, Worcestershire B96 6HB