The History of IC

70 years of cooperation in the higher education for graphic-media, technology and management.

The International Circle of Educational Institutes of Graphic-Media Technology and Management – IC was founded in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1957 by a few mid-European universities for printing technology. The foundation took place on the occasion of the international fair for the graphic arts industry “Graphic 57”, under the patronage of the ‘International Master Printers Association’ (IMPA). Several principals of Higher Educational Institutes for Graphic Arts Technology and Management met on that occasion with the representatives of the printers associations in order to discuss problems of the higher education and the possibility of a narrower cooperation among all European schools. The result was the foundation of an association: The international circle of the principals of Educational Institutes for Graphic Arts Technology and Management (IC).

During the almost 70 years of its existence, the IC has grown far beyond its beginnings, scientifically as well as in terms of its international extension; its member universities now are scattered all over the world. The main focus of the IC’s work remains in the field of the graphic arts industry; most of its members, however, have added the electronic media to their portfolios, just as the corresponding industries have done. They provide scientific, engineering, management and economic education which qualifies their students for leading positions in the graphic-media industries.


The early years

The first President was Dr. Gustav Barthel, Director of the higher vocational school for the graphic arts and professional training in Stuttgart. In the year 1961, Gustav Barthel, got the first professorship in the house and in 1963, after the separation of the two schools, he became principal of the higher vocational school, which he handed over in 1969 as an printing engineering college to his successor Dr. Horst Ohlhaver. On that occasion he passed also the presidency of the IC to his colleague of the school in Vienna, Hofrat Dr. Wilhelm Mutschlechner. Gustav Barthel passed away on 26 January 1973.

In this first life phase, the IC corresponded to a relatively intimate circle, with a majority of European printing educational Institutes. Under the culturally and arts oriented president Gustav Barthel all the cultural heritage of Gutenberg and the printer guild were favoured. At the same time most of the relatively young schools (the Leipzig master school could not take part in the IC for political reasons) were occupied with the acknowledgment as higher educational establishments. This was of importance since new education structures had to be created after the end of world war, 1945 in Europe, which were compared among the different countries and were adjusted partially together.

The members of the IC felt comradely interconnected in accordance with the printer guild thought. The first meeting after the foundation took place in 1958 on the occasion of the third Drupa in Düsseldorf. Afterwards, the members of IC met yearly in the different education Institutes: 1960 in Amsterdam, 1961 in Stockholm, 1962 in Milano, 1963 in Vienna, 1964 in Berlin, 1965 in Copenhagen, 1966 in Munich, 1967 in Paris, 1968 in Stuttgart, 1969 in London and 1970 in Vienna. Generally each year one of the member educational institutes was visited. This allowed the exchange of information and comparisons on the spot. Also the members visited important printing shops and suppliers for graphic arts industries as well as cultural institutions. At the 8th meeting, 1965 in Copenhagen the present members decided moreover to extend the IC also to schools of American and East European countries.

IC in the 70s and the 80s
Beside Schools and Departments comparison and analysis, regarding the administration and educational status of each educational organization in the individual countries, more and more technical, technological and scientific topics have been discussed. As a result, at the 14. IC Conference in Ghent, Belgium (1973), a narrower cooperation between the Educational Institutes – Universities and the research institutes of graphic arts and printing was stimulated.  One of the stronger bonds was with the International Association of Research Organizations for the Information, Media and Graphic Arts Industries (IARIGAI).

The cooperation found fertile ground, based on the common interests between IC and IARIGAI, a bond that is even stronger nowadays. In 1977, the members of the IC met to the 15. Conference in Wuppertal on the occasion of the Drupa. In the same year, the IC gave official status to itself as a not registered free association. This formulated the usual regulations and chapters, such as the official name,  presidency, purpose, membership, funding, meetings of its members and the administration of the IC.

Further Conferences was organized 1978 in Lausanne, 1979 in Zagreb, (former Yugoslavia) 1981 in Italy (Verona und Torino) and 1982 again in Lausanne, where the esig+, the Swiss engineering college for printing and packaging celebrated its 10 years of existence with the European colloquium “Printing today and tomorrow”. On this occasion, the president Wilhelm Mutschlechner resigned from this duty, in order to prepare for its retirement in 1983.

The third IC president elected was Professor Antonio Abbondio the director of the esig+ in Lausanne.

At the conference in October 1982 in Lausanne, the 25 year of existence of the IC has been celebrated, among with the 10 years of the esig+, as well as the 30 year old jubilee of Ugra, the Swiss Association for the Promotion of Research in the Graphic Arts Industry. It was three solemn ceremonies with the participation of the authorities of the Swiss Federal Government, the State Government of Vaud, the Mayor of Lausanne and numerous representatives of the industries. A memorial writing over the first 25 years of the IC was created as a gift for Wilhelm Mutschlechner, who was elected Honorary president of the IC. In this memorial book all the member schools were introduced and  presented.

The intent to organize the next conference at the Technical University of Rochester (USA) failed because of the difficult economic situation at the beginning of the 80s. As a result, the 20th conference took place in May 1985 again in Lausanne, together with the European Colloquium “print finishing today and tomorrow” at the esig+. As a novelty, two IC teams were formed, focusing on latest print and graphic communication development and innovation. The first team dealt with the training in the new area of electronic data processing (EDP) and should help the individual schools to come on this correctly and efficiently. Leaders of this group were Professor Dr. Klaus Tradowsky from Berlin and lecturer André Van Huffel from Ghent. The second team, managed by Professor Christian Schade from Wuppertal, dedicated its activity on Gravure Processing and the corresponding requirements on training.

The formation of the two working groups, allowed a stronger interaction and cooperation between the specialists of the individual schools and strongly widened the work basis of the IC on selected goals. It also became possible to submit international projects with participation of several schools and to execute them together.
The 21st Conference of the IC took place in May 1986 on the occasion of the Drupa in Düsseldorf. On this occasion the Gravure study group organized a joint meeting of the IC with specialists of the European Rotogravure Association (ERA), the Gravure Education Foundation (GEF) and the American Gravure Technical Association (GTA) which came to the Drupa.

In May 1988, the IC members were invited to another jubilee celebration. The “Graphische” in Vienna became 100 year old and the president of IC had the honour of holding the celebration and keynote speech.

The 90s and towards the Millennium
The 23rd Conference took place in May 1990 in Wuppertal, simultaneously with the Drupa. Beside the activity reports of the two teams, the mutual acknowledgment of engineer diplomas (Europe engineer for “Europa92”) was treated and a team under the lead of Prof. Dr. Hartmann Liebetruth from Wuppertal was formed to continue this project. Moreover, a team was proposed on stimulation of Professor Page Crouch of the Clemson University (USA) to pursue the waste disposal problem in the printing industry. Also, a gala dinner of the GEF was organized, with honour of the prize-winners of the student competition on Gravure printing.

The 24th Conference in May 1992, in the new school campus of Ghent (B), has been dedicated on the possibility work on common international projects. An effort to take part in the European project for the training simulator PrintSim of the Technical Research Center of of Finland (VTT), was seized from different member schools. The Gravure team presented the operational requirements for a Gravure testing machine and corresponding alternative suggestions. The EDP team had worked out training material for PostScript and the affiliated programming. The Europe Engineer team started a subgroup to itself to the topic of the multilingual training at the schools. After the Conference, some participants at the Ghent conference attended the TPG’92 exhibition in Paris.

The 25th Conference in April 1994 in Torino and Verona was a great success, since it was attended by numerous IC members. Topics were a simulation training for rotative printing machines (SIR). Another simulation involved the areas of the production planning control (PPS) as well as the factory planning, which were developed in Leipzig. Advances were also shown with the current documentation of the schools and with the introduction of at least one foreign language, as well as with the student mobility program and the mutual acknowledgment of the study performances. during the conference, Professor Dr. Hartmann Liebetruth from Wuppertal was elected as the 4th President of the IC. Antonio Abbondio had expressed his resignation wish already before and has been elected unanimously as a honorary president.

The 26th Conference in May 1995 was again in Wuppertal, parallel to the Drupa 1995. Simultaneously, the yearly meeting of the “European Graphic Students Association” (Reéig), which had been founded in 1992 in Lausanne took place.  Reéig was a student initiative in some member schools of the IC, offering the opportunity for the exchange of opinions on the print and graphic arts education and formed the first initiatives for  student exchange, common curricula programs and work placement for the graduated print engineers.  Furthermore, the Sokrates Program of the EU has been introduced. The IC member list now included already over a hundred schools and institutions. To the conference, over 80 participants had been present.

In May 1996 the members met to their 27th Conference in Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Tilburg (NL). The work program consisted substantially of papers of representatives of the schools and graphic arts industry suppliers.

On invitation of Professor Dr. Alexander Tsyganenko, the leader of the State Academy for Printing and Publishing, the 28th Conference washas been taking place in Moscow at the end of May 1997. Beside numerous visits and sightseeing, the participants got also an insight to the situation of the Russian printing and publishing industry.

Further the Conferences followed after shorter periods: The 29th Conference took place in August 1998 in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and in May 1999 in Stockholm (S).

IC in the 21st century

The International circle, has continued its tradition with the organization of the IC Conferences every year. The first conference of the 21st Century took place in April 2000. The following conferences took place in Wuppertal, in May 2001 in Saint Petersburg (Russia), in November 2002 in Stuttgart, 2003 in Taschkent, 2004, during  Drupa 2004 in Düsseldorf, 2005 in May in Lviv (Ukraine) and in October 2006 in Hefei (China) and November 2006 in Manipal (India). During this last Conference, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Faigle from Stuttgart, has been elected as the 5th President of the IC. Hartmann Liebetruth was elected unanimously as a honorary president. It should be mentioned, the opening of the IC Eastern Europe’s borders that took place under Hartmann Liebetruth’s presidency was a remarkable action, as well as the presence of the IC in China.

During the presidency of Wolfgang Faigle, significant steps have been done towards the expansion of IC membership in Northern America; examples are the IC conferences at Toronto and at San Luis Obispo plus a marked increase in IC members from Canada and the US. In addition, a milestone for IC during Faigle’s presidency is the  launch of the IC Journal in 2008 (IC Circular). An enormous work has been done to set the specifications and structure of the IC Circular Journal (format, peer reviewing process, editing and publishing).

Regarding the above mentioned IC conferences, main focuses of the programs were as follows:

– To create a platform for knowledge exchange and intercultural exchange, Presentation of the schools and the most important industrial partners as well as the location of the host school, and friendly contact care, including teachers and students.

2007 to today (2022)

The IC has celebrated its 50 years of existence in October 2007 at its foundation place in Lausanne and Yverdon, on the occasion of its 39th Conference. The host was the Haute Ecole d’Ingénierie et de Gestion du Canton de Vaud (heig-vd), a member school of the big College of Western Switzerland (hes-so), in which the former esig+ became the department of communication.

During the first 50 years of its existence, many world-wide personal friendly and comradely contacts has been originated thanks to the IC. Some of these friendships continue to exist also after the end of the professional activity of the IC members. Also important are the possibilities to exchange and cooperation, which helped most member schools to be known and to have successful activities even outside of their own country or their own regional borders.

The IC continued its activity organizing the conferences every year at a different country. The conferences were organized at the following cities and countries:

2008, in Warsaw, Poland, 2009 in Ghent, Belgium, 2010 in Moscow, Russia, 2011 in Norrköping, Sweden, 2012 in Budapest, Hungary, 2013 in Toronto, Canada, 2014 in Corinthia and Athens, Greece, 2015 in San Luis Obispo, CA, USA, 2016 in Leipzig, Germany, 2017 in Beijing, China, 2018 in Warsaw, Poland, 2019 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2021 in Athens Greece and 2022, in Greenville SC, USA.

During DRUPA exhibitions, one day scientific events have been organized, for example at DRUPA 2012. During the conference in Leipzig (2016), Luk Bouters from Ghent, Belgium, has been elected as the 6th President of the IC.

Finally, during COVID 19 and the pandemic, the IC has organized a scientific event, during the virtual DRUPA 2021, which was attended by some 6000 people (from distance). During virtual DRUPA in 2021, and after the retirement of Luk Bouters, Anastasios Politis from Greece, has been elected as the 7th President of the IC.


A last word as stated by Antonio Abbondio  in 2007:

Should much friendship and success be granted for the next 50 years of the IC, to the welfare of all the students, the teachers, the leaders and the involved authorities, as well as to the printing and publishing industry, which meanwhile turned into the communication industry“.

Text by Anastasios E. Politis (based on the original text written by Antonio Abbondio in 2007).