By definition, the word classic means “serving as a standard of excellence : of recognized value.” In other words something that stands the test of time. Neenah’s CLASSIC® Brands have been around for 55 years. And that’s saying something in an industry that’s pretty fickle when it comes to paper grades with staying power. To give you some context, I started in the industry around the same time Survivor first aired. I’ve seen more papers come and go than torches snuffed out by Jeff Probst. So yes, it’s safe to say the CLASSIC® Papers live up to their name. But how exactly does a brand that is so iconic and classic undertake a refresh? Well, that was a collaborative process between Neenah Paper and Design Army that was a year in the making. I say it was well worth the wait because the results are stellar.
Trying to find the perfect kraft paper can make any graphic designer feel a bit like Goldilocks. This one’s too light, this one’s too dark – you get the picture. Before you know it, you’ve spent hours looking at paper samples and you’re still haven’t found the perfect one. Sound familiar? At Parse & Parcel, we get more questions about kraft paper than other type of paper out there. So we dove dive deep into The Swatchbox and put together this guide to help designers find the perfect kraft paper.
So I’m going through the new promotion from Domtar, Mark Your Mark, when I saw something that stopped me mid flip. While the piece itself is about identifying different market segments, what really caught my attention was the design for the restaurant segment. This particular sample set contained a menu, coaster, order pad and business card. I immediately noticed its elegant simplicity – black and white illustration with a pop of gold ink. I flipped to the production notes and read two words that stopped me in my tracks. Digital Gold. Wait, what? Yes, gold digital metallic ink. Now my print peeps are going to tell me this technology has been available for a while. And yes, gold digital metallic inks have been available for a few years. But the print results I saw in this piece looked so much better than anything I had ever seen done before. What I saw was true digital metallic inks – gold flecks and all.
Finding a good rep can be challenging. You may prefer a certain company, but your rep might but be less than adept. On the other hand, you may find a certain rep to be a delight to work with, but perhaps her company’s products/services are too limited. We’ve all been there. And as someone who has been on both sides of the desk, I know all too well the pitfalls many reps and clients face. I thought I’d share my list of tell tale signs a good sales rep exhibits.
I’m tired of the little black dress. Yes, I’m guilty of having one in my closet that I rely on way too much. On paper it checks all the boxes: it’s black, it fits and I can wear it to a number of events. So yeah, technically it works. But does it WOW? No way. And I have to admit, sometimes I want a little wow factor. Well the same can be said about the paper specified for print. Basic white papers are fine for everyday projects. But if you’re looking to create a project that wows – the package that’s too irresistible to touch or the catalog to beautiful not to take – then color and texture are where it’s at. Lucky for us we don’t have to look too far, because Neenah Paper gives us the best of both worlds with their comprehensive new swatchbook, The Design Collection.
Oh, really? Tell that to Jessica Hische. She’s built a pretty fab career designing book covers (among other things) for Penguin and Chronicle Books, with the sole purpose of being judged.
The reality is our work is being evaluated all the time. And I can think of no other profession where judgment is more intense than in graphic design. When someone is paying you to literally make their brand look good, you can believe they’re judging you and your work long before you ever meet them.
I recently asked a group of designers if they ever felt like their comps looked better than the final results. The comments are ongoing, with reasons ranging from unrealistic expectations to lackluster production, but one point keeps coming up – it’s about the relationship designers have with their suppliers. After working with creatives for a while now, I know this to be true but am baffled by the number of suppliers who don’t understand the concept. So many reps fail to do one critical thing – do what you say you’re going to do. So often designers will meet with a rep initially, listen to their pitch, actually like what they see/hear enough to engage with them when they have an appropriate project, only to be let down when it comes time to the rep actually providing the service they need. It gets even worse if the designer is a freelancer. Whether that thing is a quote, suggest options, or provide sample services, there is no relationship without trust.
There’s something about a bright, new paper swatch book that makes me giddy. To me, it’s the same feeling I had as a kid when I got new school supplies – I’m all excited about the possibilities it holds for future projects. So when the new Mohawk Superfine swatch book arrived in The Sample Studio this week, my wheels started turning. Aside from the fact that I am a huge fan of Superfine (our P&P letterhead and envelopes are printed on the eggshell finish), it also happens to be one of the most versatile sheets out there.
During my freshman year at college I worked in the alumni office. I was one of the students who called alum asking if they’d pledge support for their beloved alma mater. I have to say I never really appreciated this job until years later. Last night I received one of those calls from a senior who is in the same program I was (sort of). She’s a communications major with a focus on integrated marketing and social media, we chatted for a bit about her senior year – turns out she may be a great intern candidate for Parse & Parcel next semester. I wish I had seen The Creative Group 2016 Salary Guide, prior to our conversation, it looks like 2016 will be a good year for creative jobs and a promising year for my future fellow alum.
It’s no secret I love paper. But over the last decade, things got kind of dicey for the industry I love. Social media became the darling of marketing, and web design got all the attention. Print sales were already declining and a bad economy only sped up the process. Every industry goes through this kind of reset, but not everyone can adapt to the changes needed to survive. A few suppliers got out ahead of things and started advocacy campaigns: Paper Because, Down to Earth, Do You Know the Facts – but much of these resources seemed to focus on promoting and educating those within our industry. That’s not a bad place to start, but to have a lasting impact the industry needed to change the perceptions of those outside the industry. As the economy gradually recovered something interesting happened, people unfamiliar with the industry were becoming enamored with paper. And when you think about, there’s no more perfect medium than paper for connecting people. It’s this sentiment that is at the heart of the new consumer advocacy campaign by The Paper and Packaging Board, How Life Unfolds.