Technology Savvy-Eve Asbury
Eve Asbury has combined passion, commitment and savvy to address the industry's toughest workflow hurdles.
"People like Eve Asbury are the reason why we've been able to meet our goals," states Peter Meirs, director of production for Time Inc., New York City.
Asbury and her team at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising are responsible for every bit of printed material—ads for magazines, newspapers or outdoor displays—that leaves the agency's New York City office, so she cannot shy away from technological challenges. And indeed, she has embraced them.
"I think this is a very dynamic industry, and I feel very lucky to be a part of it," Asbury says. "I've really been fortunate in that I've worked each end of the spectrum," she reflects, especially in light of her current responsibilities. She is savvy of both technology and process and therefore knows how to get a fair deal on her print jobs." And according to Richard Perello, vice president of Imtech Graphics, Carlstadt, NJ, Asbury also makes the process less of a hassle: "Working with Eve is a pleasurable and informative experience. (She) brings a realistic approach to overcoming many of the obstacles ... in today's digital workflow."
The daily production of advertising is only part of Asbury's concern. "I enjoy spreading the word and having fun," she comments. To "spread the word" about technology in production, Asbury has participated in many industry extra-curriculars. She has served as contributing editor for two industry publications, one in South Africa and the other in the United States. She has spoken at industry conferences, including MagazineTech '98 in New York City. And she has joined two organizations that confront the issues surrounding digital transmission of advertisements.
Digital ad discussions
In 1997, Asbury discovered a fledgling group composed of professionals on a quest to share ideas, suggestions and information about the problems and benefits of digital ads. Called the Digital Ad Lab, this group, now at least 60 members strong, meets for lunch to discuss "exactly the day-to-day problems with shipping digital ads," Asbury explains. "We're not caught up in standards committees; we don't have any baggage and we don't have any background that's holding us back. It's a free, dynamic forum that allows the passion of this industry to really come through."
Passion is only the basis of policy advancement; to accomplish reform, things such as committees and baggage are often necessary evils. So early in 1998, Asbury joined the Digital Distribution of Advertising for Publications Association (DDAP).
"The DDAP (attempts) to get the ball moving, (while) the Digital Ad Lab has taken that ball and talks about it every month," she explains. With its sights set squarely on instituting industry-wide standards for digital submissions of advertisements for publications, the DDAP created the TIFF/IT-P1 file format.
But many choices are available to the industry and whether or not TIFF/IT-P1 is the best choice, Asbury says, may require some compromise. "I think the only way we are going to move forward as an industry is to get agreement and buy-in en masse." This effort, she says, should not come from just the product manufacturers, but from everyone in-volved in print production. "We all need to fully understand, take responsibility and actually do something."
A room of one's own
It was that motivation that saved Asbury from succumbing to the loneliness of her first position in the industry, 16 years ago, as a computer programmer and analyst for a company in her native England. "They locked you in a dark room and made you work on your own, which I did not like," she recalls.
So in 1983, Asbury made her move after hearing that the government of South Africa was offering free airfare for people with technology training. The energetic Asbury moved past her little dark room into a world of opportunity. During her nine years in Africa, she had a clear view of the international print production industry, through management and consulting positions with prepress shops. "The industry is crazy everywhere," she reveals.
But Asbury has benefited from the tempest. "I've learned how to swim with the ups and downs," she quips. "I'm really enthusiastic about this industry, (about) where we're going (and) where we could go."
Asbury envisions a near future where everyone will have a color printer in their home and "automatic agents that you program (to) pull in your addition of the New York Times to (have it) sitting in your printer tray every day for you." Such changes, she says, would change the production end of print and its distribution vehicles. "From a print production perspective, I think the only way print is going to remain viable is by welcoming the whole digital age.
"Some of my colleagues frighten me when they say that the old ways are better," she adds. "There are some huge issues for us (that) we cannot afford not to solve; otherwise, we might as well all go home. And I don't want to leave, because I'm having too much fun."
-Allison Schill Eckel