Introducing Parse & Parcel

I noticed the trend a few years ago, shortly after I transitioned from paper rep to eBusiness Manager at my former company, Millcraft. As I blogged about paper samples and mill promotions, designers started commenting about how they loved these new products. The more I wrote, the more requests I got asking how they could find these promotions. The thing was many of these samples weren’t necessarily new, in fact most had been out in the market for some time. As my conversations continued, I realized it’s not just paper promotions many designers were unfamiliar with, it was accessing the resources to help make the process easier. That’s when the switch flipped.

As a paper rep, my job was to help designers find solutions. On any given day, I’d meet with 4-5 different studios. Getting an appointment was never an issue, even at the busiest agencies – everyone made time to see the paper promotions. I’d bring them samples from their favorite paper mills, real jobs printed on papers designers loved. Some samples were over the top crazy, combining three or four different paper stocks with just as many techniques. They were always fun to share, you could see the wheels of creativity turn as designers ran their fingers over the pages, studying the various print techniques used. Other times, they’d ask for comps for project they were working on. I’d have our sample studio mock up dummies based on the specs they provided – even providing perfect binding if needed. I’d usually have these shipped out, sometimes I’d drop them off it was a really urgent request.

The problem is not every designer is able to get that kind of service. The perception is you need connections to score these kind of promotions, but here’s the truth – the services exist but local paper companies are selective about who they offer these types of services to. Paper companies tend to focus on businesses that print in large quantities because that’s where they make the most money. Jobs created by most design studios, freelancers and students don’t offer enough ROI to support servicing them. How do I know? Because I saw it happen first hand with my company, our competitors and our suppliers.

This is where Parse & Parcel comes in. From sourcing local product availability to comparing colors and textures to ordering swatch books and purchasing paper samples – I believe information and resources should be accessible to all designers regardless of size, quantity, location or client roster.

Throughout the site you’ll find valuable resources to help streamline the print process and assist with every phase of design – monthly curated collections of professionally designed print samples, a complete offering of swatchbooks neatly organized and beautifully packaged and a full service sample studio from which to choose paper and envelope samples or mock-ups. And you’ll want to join our mailing list so you never miss a thing and get the inside scoop on giveaways and promotions we’re offering.

Think of us as your own personal paper consultant. Because providing access to inspiration is just part and parcel for those who love working with the design community.

Welcome to Parse & Parcel, we’re so happy to have you here.



A Burger With a Side of Design

At first glance one might not make the connection between good design and burgers, but after reading a couple posts on The Message is Medium Rare, you get it. Conceived by the San Francisco-based design firm MINE, the project shares the creative insights gleaned from noshing on the all American classic.

“What we’ve found is that, if you look at the world both critically and with wonder, there are lessons to be learned everywhere. Every object, experience, relationship, environment, phrase—everything—has locked inside it an insight it wants to share. The only trick is remembering to look for it.”

While we’d follow the blog just for their critique of the food, the creative lessons are the juicy part. From expressing their misguided disdain for the use of Copperplate in logo design (as seen in on the menu of a Jewish deli), to the importance of restraint (lettuce, lettuce, lettuce), this blog is full of relevant design insights.

In a recent review of one burger joint, the team declares their meal met all of their expectations. They expressed their hopefulness of wanting to be surprised, but noted they received exactly what they came for and what they expected – adequacy. The creative lesson being don’t believe in miracles. “Designers — particularly those involved with branding — are in the business of crafting expectation. Everything, then, is a promise of something to come. When those promises are fulfilled, brands thrive. When they aren’t, they wither.”

Milton Glaser Designs Ads for Mad Men Final Season


It took until the final season of Mad Men, for the show’s creator to enlist the work of iconic graphic designer Milton Glaser. The man who is synonymous with the advertising look of the late 60’s will have the ads he designed for the premier of the final season begin appearing next week on buses and billboards around the country.

Mr. Glaser was inspired by a member of the team’s manipulation of his own work – the 1966 Bob Dylan poster that someone cut the hair out of and then pasted it upside down. Check out the full story of the collaboration in this article by the NY Times.

Like many design fans we’ve been antsy for the new season to begin. This is the perfect fix.

French Paper Launches Vivitone


One of our favorite paper mills is shaking things up a bit. French Paper just launched a brand new paper grade: Vivitone. They’re touting it as a new paper concept, combining the flexibility of custom paper making (which they are amazing at) with the convenience of accessing stocked papers (access to smaller quantities). But here’s the shake up, it’s only available for a limited time, like a flash sale.Each shade in the Vivitone lineup will reflect current fashion trends while drawing on the inspiration from the “Custom Color Vault.” That’s what 140+ years of paper making brings, and we think it’s Vivilicious!

Their first offering, Plum Punch, is a mix of magenta and indigo hues. Citrusy and tart, punchy and mellow – the perfect paper cocktail. Make sure to join our mailing list and get paper inspiration delivered to to your inbox.

Anthem Plus

Paper classification, especially for coated papers, can be a confusing thing for many designers. You’d think most white coated gloss papers are all the same – right? Well, not quite. Coated papers are classified by a grading system: Premium, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Years ago the system was based on brightness (the amount of light reflected off the sheet’s surface). These days although brightness is a factor, price seems to be what determines the grade a coated paper is referred to in the market. When you get into the economy grades (#3 or lower), which is what most commercial printers use for their house stock, the differences in aesthetics and print quality can be HUGE.

So what’s a designer to do when they have to manage real world budgets and clients expectations? First make sure you know what options are available to you. Keep current on your swatchbooks, order paper samples and compare sheets – especially if you are unfamiliar with a printer’s house stock. I can’t stress this one enough, you want to compare basis weights (foreign sheets tend to be limper than domestic), the “whiteness” of the sheet (most sheets have a blue, red, of neutral undertone) and surface (this is really important if you have heavy, solid ink coverage in your design). You also want to see printed samples, especially if you’re using a special technique like a varnish or metallic inks.

One option in this economy range of papers of note is Anthem Plus from Ohio based paper-maker NewPage. When we looked at their recent promotion, Anthem Plus – The New American Workhorse, we liked what we saw. The piece, designed by Froeter Design in Chicago, showcases beautiful photography featuring images of Americana. From the corn fields of the mid-west, to the lone biker on the open road, to the smiling faces of the FDNY – this piece is brimming with American pride. It also highlights how well the sheet prints. You’ll find heavy ink coverage, including solids which really show off the sheet’s smooth surface. Striking black and white images printed as quadtones show how to add interest and beauty to four color images. Balancing the amount of white space and color, see how nicely image details pop on a gloss finish.

NewPage revamped the sheet last year in response to customer demands for a more economical, bright, blue-white sheet. Coming in at a 90 bright, it technically falls in the #2 range for brightness but priced in the economy category of a #3 sheet. It’s available in Gloss, Dull and Matte finishes, ranging from 60# Text – 100# Cover, including 110# Matte reply-card (perfect for mailing). Our only complaint is that it’s not offered in a heavyweight cover, but they have Sterling Premium for that. While it doesn’t contain any PCW content, we love the fact that it’s a domestic sheet, keeping its carbon footprint low. So often papers in this category are imports, and while we all like to feel we’re being environmentally responsible by using recycled papers, what’s the point if it takes 8,000 lbs.of CO2 emissions to get the paper here?


The Envelope Please

Sunday night most of America will be watching as those words are said before announcing the Oscar winner. While we’ll be watching the Academy Awards along with the rest of the country to see who wins, we’ll also be paying particular attention to the details – the envelope.

Oscar Envelopes

Believe it or not, up until four years ago the most coveted announcement in film making was enclosed in a plain white wove envelope, the kind you’d find at Staples.  All that changed when L.A. stationer, Marc Friedland, founder and creative director of Los Angeles-based Marc Friedland Couture Communications persuaded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science to let him design an envelope that not only visually reflects the tone of the event and looks elegant on television, but be constructed in a way that made it simple for the presenters to open. Leave it to a designer to put the emphasis on utility, with design reinforcing the product’s message.

Each envelope is handcrafted out of four different papers stocks produced in Bavaria. Friedland’s 10-member Oscar team does everything by hand, with over 100 hours of labor including 10 different processes : custom-made paper, hand-tooled die-making, laminating, hand-folding, hand-gluing, hand-wrapping, sheeting, hand-fed gold-leaf stamping, hand-fed embossing, printing and using at least 40 yards of red ribbon.

Inside the envelope, the creators note, is a heavyweight ecru card featuring deco gold foil and accented with a gold-leaf embossed Oscar statuette along with the gold engraved phrase, “And the Oscar goes to…” The winner  is printed in charcoal ink and mounted onto a matching red lacquer hand-wrapped frame. The back of the card introduces a new feature, indicating the specific award category visible to the audience and viewers, they add.


While creating the design, Friedland said it was important to make sure the card and envelope were not trendy or subject to fashion.  He and his team  looked to the ceremony itself for inspiration. “We took our cues from old Hollywood. The colors of gold and burgundy are the statuette and the red carpet,” Friedland says. “With that in mind, we really felt that this was the most simple, but brilliant-looking, because it also has to look great on stage.”

Friedland emphasizes the importance of the printed envelopes, even as new technologies continue to transform media. “Hopefully the envelope will never become digital because it’s a keepsake,” he said. “It’s the least-tech, most-emotional keepsake I know, and it’s perhaps the most-famous envelope in the world.” We couldn’t agree more.


Images Via Marc Friedland

A Cashmere Wrap in a Bottle

Liz Earle’s second fragrance, Botanical Essence No.15, contains fifteen botanicals carefully selected and handcrafted by highly acclaimed perfumers to create a fresh and spicy oriental scent, with 90 per cent of the contents derived from sustainable natural ingredients.


The carton panels, depicting hand-drawn, silver-foiled illustrations of the fifteen botanicals, folds around the pack. When opened, it tells the story of this distinctive and sensual fragrance. The elegant bottle is an opaque cream color to protect the light-sensitive product.

Liz Earle described the fragrance as a “cashmere wrap in a bottle.” Paper selection can impart that sensory experience to the packaging. While a coating such as soft touch aqueous can be applied during the print process if budget is an issue, it would be nice to keep the integrity of the sustainable elements in tact and opt for a tactile paper with a luxurious feel. Our pick would be Curious Cosmic 133# Cover in Mercury Pearl.  If you have not seen or felt this paper, run to your swatchbox now and grab this book.  I dare you to stop touching it. Made in one weight with a 13.8 pt. caliper (thickness), this sheet is perfect for packaging applications – and would be stunning with that silver foil emboss.

One Intense Business Card

This card means business. Just look at it, five sheets of paper laminated together – three pink sheets sandwiched between white and black cover stock.  As if that wasn’t enough, it also features a serious blind emboss and foil stamp.

Designed by the folks at Whiskey Design in Kansas City, who came up with “Shoot Out Loud” as a reference to the intensity of storytelling. Intense? We’ll say, this card could take an eye out. When it comes to business cards, we say the thicker the better.

One Intense Business Card business card with blind emboss
Images Via Whiskey Design





Klauss Boehler Branding

Taking inspiration from the Brits, the branding for Klauss Boehler by LG2 Boutique exudes refinement. Securing itself in the market of high-end mens shirts,  the mandate was “to seduce the target clientele, the savvy aristocrat, using a brand platform that highlighted the confidence and intelligence of this aristocrat.” Well, judging by the elements shown, I say they’ve succeded.

LG2_Klauss8The color palette, while subdued, works beautifully with the pops of copper metallic on the brochure cover. And those business card sleeves – not a drop of ink on them, but the richness of the paper coupled with the emboss is stunning.
By keeping the paper elements softer, the messaging of the brand really sings. Note the use of an uncoated sheet throughout the collateral – an excellent choice. If they opted for a coated sheet, the ink gloss would overwhelm the pieces. LG2’s paper selection allows the print to shine – but know that you cannot pull off this kind of detail on just any uncoated sheet.  Look at the detail in the weave of the fabric, for this kind of print results on uncoated paper your best bet is to go with premium text and cover sheet. It’s about the fiber formation and surface uniformity with a premium text and cover paper, you won’t get that from a printer’s house sheet of offset stock.

weave_detailWhen using heavy ink coverage, look for an uncoated paper with a harder surface.  A smooth or super smooth finish will still give you that luxurious hand, yet allow for nice ink uniformity. The place to add texture and dimension is on the cover. That copper metallic on the cover is gorgeous as is the emboss on the business card sleeve.

LG2_Klauss2Did I mention the button and string closure on the cover of the brochure? Talk about bindery techniques – I can’t think of a more fitting detail for such a piece. Make sure to sign up to see the best in paper, print and design because who doesn’t love experiencing gorgeous print samples?
LG2_Klauss6Images Via LG2 Boutique

The Look of Laid

We’re not sure why, but laid finish papers get a bad rap.  Perhaps its because they were thought of as “resume paper” and became the paper of choice for the quick printer. Whatever the reason they were frowned upon, this stunning identity by FODA studio is proof positive that laid papers are anything but common and remain a classic option in any designer’s swatchbox.

Featuring metallic copper ink on blue laid cover stock, the paper selection is befitting this identity of a venerable 35 year old brand.  The laid finish has grids of parallel lines that simulate the pattern created by the screens used in handmade papermaking. Through the use of a dandy roll, the fibers are positioned via a watermark and the dandy roll imparts the laid surface to the paper – giving it the look and feel of a handmade paper.

We love how elegant and refined the brand feels, yet the print production is fairly simple. While only printing one ink color they let the color of the paper really work for them, as is evidenced in the glen plaid design on the note card. Additionally the stock was used for business cards, maxing out the cut from the folio sheet. Since the grid pattern of the laid finish can impact your finished design, be sure to consult your swatchbook for the proper grain direction.

Our paper pick for replicating this look: Classic Laid Patriot Blue in 80 or 100 cover weight. For print inspiration like this delivered to your doorstep, subscribe to The Parcel.

Images via FODA studio.