I’ve said it before, I’m kind of a voyeur when it comes to design. I walk the dog at night just so I can check out the interior design of homes in my neighborhood. And if it’s a home of particular note, I let my pooch have a good long sniff around just so I can get a better look. Luckily, when it comes to paper and print design I don’t have to go to such lengths. Many of the paper mills and industry publications host design competitions and share the details with their audience. I got my fix recently when Appleton Coated sent us their new print promotion, O1NE, featuring the 2015 U360 winners.
Last week Parse & Parcel had the pleasure of co-hosting The Strathmore Archives in Cleveland. We teamed up with our friends at Mohawk – makers of Strathmore, and local paper merchant Millcraft, to bring this exhibit to Cleveland. On what had to be the warmest evening of the summer, a group of 100 designers, printers and paper peeps joined us to celebrate the legacy of Strathmore and see first hand the evolution of American graphic design.
I had been warned. Get to the exhibit hall early on opening night, it’s crazy. So last month at HOW, I left Simon Sinek’s keynote speech a little early so I could be among the first to see all the paper samples from the mills. It worked – but only for one booth. By the time I looked up it was a frenzy of people clamoring to get at all the swag. It was like Black Friday for designers. There was a line that wound its way around the perimeter and through the center of the exhibit hall. After being knocked around several times by these enormous yellow/orange CSA designed packages, I knew where all the fuss was coming. Not one to miss out on a good thing, I hopped in line. It was definitely worth the wait, not only did I get some awesome print samples, I was among the first to catch a peek at Kraft-Tone, the new grade from French Paper.
It’s official, spring’s here. I know the calendar says the vernal equinox began on March 20th – but I have my own system. Living near the Great Lakes most of my life, I know a date on calendar means nothing in terms of reality. So I rely on something much more scientific, my senses. While I saw a few snowflakes flying this weekend, I also saw the first harbinger of spring in my book – the crocus. I base the next three months on this sighting alone. I know in 10-14 days the hellebores will be in bloom, followed shortly by the forsythia and cherry trees. That’s my signal to breakout the putrid liquid fence. This step is a necessary evil because it prevents the deer from devouring my spring landscape. As a gardener, I live for my display of spring bulbs. Tulips are by far my favorite – probably because much like paper, they come in an abundance of gorgeous colors.
What’s your favorite color? Most people know instantly what their color of choice is, for me this is a tough one. I find it’s a lot like choosing your favorite ice cream flavor, it kind of depends on my mood. Lucky for me I’m in The Sample Studio all day and can easily find a hue to suit my needs, from white to black and every shade in between. While some may think being surrounded by all this color can make one jaded to it, I am gitty when a mill revamps a grade and colors are re-imagined. Just last week I attended a meeting with some industry paper peeps where we were shown the recent grade refresh of Neenah’s Astrobrights offering. While the rep from Neenah spoke about the big changes to the grade (major additions of basis weights), I could focus on nothing else but the new lemon-lime duplex colors in the new Astrobrights swatch book.
One of the perks of my job is that I get to see some pretty amazing paper promotions. Over the years I’ve amassed quite a collection of fab samples showcasing every print technique imaginable. I refer to my sample library often, especially when a designer asks to see something special. The one area of my stash that is in hot demand these days is luxury packaging. It seems everyone with a new business or product is embracing the tactile medium of paper as a means of differentiating their brand. There’s tons of great info online about haptics (the science of touch), but to me there is nothing quite like experiencing the real thing. I always thought it would make so much sense to just have one really well executed packaging piece that highlights paper as an essential part of packaging design. So when I opened the new Neenah packaging promotion – The Power of Paper: On Neenah, I almost passed out.
I was scrolling through my facebook feed when a post from a design friend stopped me in my tracks. “Dear paper companies – cease and desist showing designers premium / unique papers that when we actually go to use them – you inform us right before press you cannot fulfill an order. I am so over print production.” I cringed, this is the exact opposite reaction every paper company wants a designer to have about their products. As someone who has lived and breathed paper for the better part of my career, I have to wonder why the disconnect between availability of premium papers and designers still happens?
It’s been a busy year at Parse & Parcel. We launched our business complete with a new website and subscription products, moved into a new space, set up The Sample Studio and added two members to our team – Molly & Chris. I am incredibly grateful to be able to do what I love and help the print and design community that means so much to me. I knew I wanted to do something special this holiday season to say thank you to everyone who has supported Parse & Parcel this past year. With that being said, I wanted whatever we did to be true to our mission to help educate and inspire. What better way to deliver paper inspiration than by sending each member of our mailing list a set of custom holiday cards?
I knew I wanted to give something special to our members that would be both education and functional, so I decided to focus on using colored and textured paper stocks to demonstrate what could be done with digital printing. I chose digital because although it’s used a lot, I still don’t see much being produced on tactile, color paper.
It was love at first sight. I could hardly believe my eyes, but two of my all time favorite combinations were staring me right in the face: kraft paper paired with copper metallic ink. Oh Mohawk, you had me at hello. I was thrilled when I got the brand spanking new Mohawk Carnival + Via swatchbook last month. I didn’t think things could get much better with one of my “go-to” budget friendly grades…until I got the current copy of the Mohawk Maker Quarterly Issue No. 5 – PERCEPTION.
The first time I visited Florence I suffered from Stendahl syndrome. No, I am not kidding. I was in the my early twenties and had never seen so much beauty in one place. It was overwhelming. The syndrome itself can cause rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion – even hallucinations in some people who experience something of enormous significance, mostly pertaining to art. If you’ve been following P&P you know my love of paper, but when it comes to the craft of print, especially letterpress, I am truly awestruck. With a collection of 1.5 million pieces of wood type and more than 1,000 styles of sizes and patterns, The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type. I’m fairly certain if I ever visit the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum I’d surely suffer a relapse. So when I received the final limited edition Hamilton Wood Type specimen sheets from Appleton Coated you can understand why I got a little dizzy.