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Spotlight: Martin Habekost, chair, School of Graphic Communications Management, Ryerson University


December 7, 2021
By PrintAction Staff

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Dr. Martin Habekost was appointed chair of the School of Graphic Communications Management (GCM) at Ryerson University, Toronto, effective July 1, 2021. Habekost holds a PhD in analytical chemistry from Leibniz University in Hanover, Germany. After working for 10 years in various roles within the ink manufacturing industry, he joined GCM in 2005. He was named associate chair of the School in 2012. We spoke to him about his new role and plans for GCM.

How is Ryerson University’s GCM program unique from other print-
related programs?

MH: GCM is built on three pillars. These pillars are creativity and design; technology and innovation; and business and entrepreneurship. These three pillars make GCM’s program unique. Students take classes in relation to these three pillars, and these classes give them many opportunities after graduation.

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Another important aspect is the fantastic relations we have with industry and suppliers. Without their continuing and generous support, we would not be able to offer the current education in its depth and breadth to our students.

As the new school chair, what are your plans?

MH: I have a couple of plans for the School. There will be initiatives in the packaging area at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. These initiatives are in various planning and execution stages. Also, the School will continue to offer a modern and flexible curriculum to the students.

What is the state of the print industry today, in your opinion?

MH: The print industry is in a constant state of flux. Digital print technologies are making inroads into print businesses. Many short-run jobs will get printed on digital printers. Digital printing is evolving at a fast pace, and the print quality is improving with every new machine. Also, automation will play a larger role in the industry. With automation, it is possible to print short-run jobs in a profitable way using traditional print processes. However, the equipment needs to be relatively new, so all the new automation techniques can be implemented. The pandemic forced many businesses to invest in digital storefronts, so customers can order products online. This has changed the business model of many companies. Also, the pandemic has changed workspaces. Work from home will continue to be a part of the daily business when the pandemic is over.

One thing, though, print is definitely not dead. The pandemic showed how print businesses are able to adapt to changing customer requirements. Some businesses added new product lines that were tied to the pandemic.

How can the industry attract more young people?

MH: This is a tricky question. No one has been able to provide a comprehensive answer to that. Many young people probably think the industry involves working with heavy machinery and ink, and that is not an attractive image. The industry has to promote all the other job possibilities including creative ones.

Further, people who want to enter the industry would like to start with a competitive salary and be assured of growth opportunities. The salary that is being offered currently by some companies does not match the cost of living in Canada. This can be a turn-off for aspiring professionals.

What do you think is the most exciting thing about print?

MH: The most exciting thing about print is seeing how an idea that might have been sketched on a napkin or scrap paper becomes a beautiful printed, finished product. This is most evident in the annual Canadian Printing Awards organized by PrintAction. For a number of years, I was a member of this competition’s judging panel, and I was amazed and in awe of the submissions, especially the combination of colours, design, materials, binding and finishing. Creating unique pieces for every customer is what this industry is about; this makes it exciting.

Habekost’s responses were edited for length. For more Q&A Spotlight interviews, please visit www.printaction.com/profile.

This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of PrintAction.