What started out as a way to showcase of paper offerings to the creative community has become one of the largest events in the industry. The Smelt Fry is the hottest ticket among Cincinnati agencies, designers, end users and printers.
Smelt Fry History
The Smelt Fry’s history began in the 1980’s. Local paper merchant, Johnston Paper, wanted to host an event for the creative community. The vision was for a gathering of creatives to meet and see what was new in print and paper.
Millcraft Cincinnati division manager, Mike Davoran, who joined Johnston in 1988, recalls the story.
“Legend has it that Bill Colgan, President of Johnston Paper, was talking to a local typesetter. He was talking about doing “something different.” The customer told Bill of a casual event a couple years prior. A few local typesetters would meet and fry up smelt that one of their members caught while in Michigan. Thus the beginning of The Smelt Fry.”
According to Mike, the first Smelt Fry was held in the parking lot of Johnston Paper. The large attendance forced it to move to the art deco, Netherland Hilton Hall of Mirrors. Attendance soon grew to over 1,000 from the local graphic arts community. So once again the Smelt Fry moved to accommodate the growing size of the event.
2018 Smelt Fry
Over the years, the Smelt Fry has grown to iconic status. It is one of the largest and longest running annual paper shows in the industry. Last year the event changed venues and moved to Paul Brown Stadium where there is plenty of room to accommodate the ever-growing list of attendees from the print and design community.
This year’s theme, “Swim in an Ocean of Color,” featured some amazing print inspiration on a number of substrates including paper, packaging and wide format. Event guests got to experience some award winning design featured in many of the printed pieces as well as learn a bit about the power of print and paper to persuade, in a presentation, “This is your Brain on Print.”
By all accounts, attendees had a great time, enjoyed some smelt and left with some sweet printspiration.
The 2018 Smelt Fry is officially in the books, make sure you’re on our list to be the first to hear about our next big event. In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the highlights from this year’s show.