Act Now! A Peek Inside

We finally dug into the new direct mail promotion from Sappi and is does not disappoint. If you don’t already know, Sappi makes coated papers and is probably best known for their McCoy brand. All we can say is this is one piece you don’t want to miss. It’s chock full of good marketing info, making it a cinch to sell client’s on why they should use direct mail. Did you know that among 18-34 year olds, mail is the preferred means of receiving communications from their favorite brands?

Act-Now-2-720Designed by VSA Partners in Chicago it’s printed entirely on Opus, which BTW is a very affordable option if your client’s on a budget. Within the mailer, there are previously printed campaign materials designed by VSA that serve as direct mail case studies—publications for Facebook, D’Addario and Chicago’s local The Butcher & Larder. If you’re a foodie, you will want the piece for The Butcher & Larder poster alone! This piece is a great road map on what to think about when creating a direct mail campaign – maybe if Bank of America had a copy they wouldn’t have such a disaster on their hands now.


Be sure to join our mailing list for the latest on what’s happening in paper, print and design. In the meantime, here’s a peek what’s inside Act Now.








Olympic Logo Retrospective

While the 2014 Winter Olympic games get underway in Sochi, we can’t help but notice the logo everywhere. Created by a team of Swiss designers at Interbrand Agency, the logo was described by the selection committee as “the first digital brand in the history of the Olympic movement.”
As the New Yorker pointed out the current logo veers far from the original concepts which had a more refined feel to them featuring floral illustrations inspired by Russian art and natural elements. The official logo features no drawings (a rarity among Olympic logos) as well as all lowercase lettering, the five rings and a web address. Using a typeface similar to the Revue font, the Sochi logo has taken a beating for being too simplistic and difficult to read.

Not sure about that, but it’s clearly a departure from the original concepts as well as past Olympic logos.  Check out our pinterest board for a retrospective of Olympic logos past, in the meantime here’s a glimpse.








We pre-ordered these last month sight unseen after a Google search led us to this description on amazon: “Legendary designer Louise Fili brings her love of vintage packaging and all things Italian to this collection of beautiful pencils. Housed in a sturdy lidded case, Perfetto Pencils features twelve double-sided, two-color pencils that showcase Fili’s unique ability to capture the bygone elegance of our design heritage.”

Perfetto Pencils by Louise Fili

After spying this pic in our twitter feed this morning, we learned that Spencer Charles, Sr. Designer at Louise Fili Ltd. designed these pencils for Princeton Architectural Press. Available mid-March. We can’t wait for these little gems to show up in our mailbox.

Light Farms Identity

The folks at Tractorbeam have done it again.  This is an amazing example of an identity that stands out in every way. The client, Light Farms, is an 806 acre master planned community that’s being developed as the ‘gateway’ to Celina, TX. Tractorbeam created a “modern yet endearing identity inspired by the farm that gave name to the development. Cohesive brand collateral, website and community signage work together balancing tradition with a vision for the future.” We agree.
LightFarms_Portfolio_1_768From a paper perspective, we love the use of coated and uncoated finishes throughout, it gives the system a great tactile sense. We dare a perspective buyer not to pick up this collateral.
LightFarms_Portfolio_9_768For us the star of system is the accordian fold brochure. this can be tricky, with such heavy ink coverage if you go too heavy on the basis weight you risk cracking on the fold – this is where mock ups are essential during the print production phase.
LightFarms_Portfolio_5_768They chose a clean, muted neutral for the letterhead, business cards and envelopes (check out Classic Crest for a huge range of colors and weights). The square flap on the #10 envelope is a perfect place to showcase the logo. Since most identity systems these days are small in quantity, start with then end in mind. That’s the envelope – find one that the client can easily re-order. Most envelopes are packed in quantities of 2500 per carton. The paper companies are getting smarter about this by converting the envelopes themselves and selling them in smaller quantities on their websites.
LightFarms_Portfolio_2_768Another smart selection was the combination of a text and cover paper on the cover and inserts of the brochure paired with a beautifully sleek coated paper – perfect for making those illustrations pop. To learn more about paper combinations like this, join Parse & Parcel.
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Shed Lab Sketchbooks

We love these sketch books from Shed Labs.  Utilitarian in design and function, they combined the best of both worlds when it comes to paper. By using a premium sheet for the cover and an economy grade for the pages, they got a big bang for their buck.

In our opinion they chose the perfect cover stock for this design – French Construction. This paper represents the rewards of “hard work.”  The covers are printed on 100# Steel Blue, Factory Orange and Safety Green. Since the piece only requires one sheet of cover, it makes sense to splurge here given the size of the product (3.75″ x 5.25″ finished). The one consideration we’d stress is to make note of the grain direction since scoring is required and this is 100# cover stock. The guts are printed on 60# Text Lynx Opaque Ultra from Domtar – a dependable yet budget friendly choice.



To achieve the white color on the cover, they mixed varnish with a subtle gray – very clever. Additionally, the books were designed as a continuous piece of art – so one begins where the last one left off. Interested in learning more about pieces like this? Join Parse & Parcel and sign up to receive The Parcel.


USPS Love Stamp Release

It’s here, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  The USPS 2014 Love stamp was released for sales today.  The stamp, Cut Paper Heart, was designed by Art Director Antonio Alcala featuring illustration by Q. Cassetti.

2014-Love Stamp

“It is meant to be decorative, happy,” Cassetti said, “not necessarily a valentine, but love all year round.”

The digital illustration depicts a large white heart enclosing a smaller pink heart with a saw-toothed edge along its left-hand side. Surrounding the central hearts are pink swirls with smaller hearts embedded in the design, and a ragged-edge motif that echoes the edging on the small pink heart.  The hearts and swirls are contained within a red square that has “pinked” edges, as if cut with pinking shears. A white border frames the entire design.

Cassetti hand drew the illustration so that she could keep the scale of the details appropriate to a stamp-size design. She then scanned the drawing and modified it on the computer. “The goal for the finished art is to have it not appear to be digital,” Cassetti explained.

For a look back at some of the stamps in the Love series, check out our Pinterest board.

A Self Promotion that Delivers

OK, we know self promotions had better be good. It’s your shot at wooing perspective clients and demonstrating how your creative skills can impact their business. While we’ve seen a lot of creative promos over the years, this one by Pencil Agency in London caught our attention.


The agency is known for creating bespoke content for clients across all channels  but with a particular love of print. With this in mind they decided to promote themselves as well as the importance of curated content for brands and produced a beautifully designed newspaper.

The piece was printed using navy and fluorescent orange inks – while we’re not sure of the paper selection given the nature of the piece we think French Paper Durotone Newsprint Extra White or White would be quite fitting. What really caught our eye was the custom made envelope they created converted out of navy paper (yes you can find some beauties in this shade, Neenah’s Oxford Blue Chip or Classic Crest Patriot Blue come to mind). Given the nature of the deep shade, the envelope is most likely produced on a cover weight stock giving it extra importance when held, enticing the recipient to open it. Upon opening the flap, a touch of fluorescent orange on the liner is revealed – a really nice detail.

A custom envelope like this one is a great way to standout on a clients desk, insuring your brand’s message reaches its intended audience.  To see how you can received inspiring printed samples like this one, sign up to join Parse & Parcel.

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An Annual Report with No Ink

They don’t get produced the way they once did, but annual report design has not lost its creativity.  In this bold annual report for Noble Development created by Farmgroup – the piece was produced without one drop of ink. The creative team let the paper be the star of the show, employing strong print techniques like embossing, die-cutting and unique binding to carry the company’s message: “be different. be noble.”  I have to give as much credit to the AE on this one as the creative. I can’t think of too many CEO’s that would opt for such a daring statement – but more really should.


The secret to producing such incredible results lies within the paper stock.  With all the folding going on in the bindery, if you use too heavy a basis weight you run the risk of cracking, but with such few pages you need the piece to have some heft to it reinforcing the messaging.  This is where samples play a critical role in the process. To insure you’ll get the kind of results you’d expect, order a mock-up on the actual paper stock you’ll be using.  In this case, the annual is on three different stocks in very bold, yet corporate colors: white, black and gray. The paper has a simple, raw surface allowing the tactile feel of the sheet to be the textural backdrop for the heavy embossing and die-cutting techniques. To learn more about mock-ups and what’s in the sample studio – join Parse & Parcel.






Mix and Match Paper Stocks

We love it when we see designers mixing up paper stocks on a project.  And there’s no better time to give it a whirl than with an identity system.  We stumbled across this suite for Define Bottle, designed by Akula Kreative – and we love how they mixed and matched stocks.


For the letterhead they went with a classic – literally.  Classic Crest 24# Writing – with a slew of white options this paper is a great staple to anchor any identity system. Printed with three PMS colors. For the envelope they opted to go with a color, smart choice.  In this case they selected Construction Cement Green 70#T by French Paper – and added a nice detail by selecting the #10 policy envelope (open end). Other nice details include the wrap around address label printed one color on Mactac’s Metro grade, the euro-flap announcement envelope and the washi tape detail.

All in all, a great example of why mixing it up when it comes to paper stocks really works. The secret to keeping costs in check is working with your paper rep ahead of time to make sure the stocks you’ve selected (and sold the client on) are readily available.  To learn more about readily available paper stocks, sign up to join Parse & Parcel.