Print Inspiration: Future Classic by Neenah

future-classic-parse-parcelAbout this time of year I get a little antsy. Thoughts of wanderlust start to distract me. I’ll get lost for hours on Instagram searching for the perfect escape. For me the ideal destination has the perfect mix of art, design, food, music and horticulture.Not so sure I’ll find one spot with everything on my wish list, even in the dreamiest of Instagram feeds – never mind the distraction it’ll cause in my work day. Thankfully Neenah’s new piece arrived just in time to quell my fall into the time-suck of social media. Future Classic is the newest promotion from Neenah Paper and it focuses on the relationship between destination and design.

The piece highlights six cities: Portland, Oakland, Atlanta, D.C., Philly and Chicago as seen through the eyes of seven local illustrators. It is the perfect combination of discovery + experience via the tactile power of paper. Upon opening the envelope the first thing I notice is the type treatment in the pattern of the title. This repeats across the front cover and gives a 3D effect when combined with the stipple finish of Classic Crest paired with infinity foil. Almost instantly one recognizes this as the creative work of Design Army, the agency responsible for the rebranding of the CLASSIC brands for Neenah.

future-classic-1-parse-parcelThe work of cut-paper artist Emily Brown is featured in the first spread, emphasizing color and dimensionality through the combination of tactile print techniques and paper finishes. Inspired by green space, Emily showcased her love of hand-cut paper by employing die-cuts to translate this technique on a broad scale. The outer sleeve is die-cut in Classic Columns Charcoal Gray, peeking through it is an embossed leaf pattern. It’s not until you remove the insert that one notices the larger die-cut outline of the insert, reminiscent of a garden shrub. The insert is printed on Classic Crest Duplex in Canyon Brown/Windsor Blue, the use of a duplex adds another layer of color to the piece.

future-classic-2-parse-parcelIllustrator Kate Zaremba was inspired by the D.C. arts community, sketching her initial ideas and often creating paper cutouts of the icons to help simplify the shapes and ideas. Icons in fluorescent pink and jet black pop against Classic Crest Avalanche White in the eggshell finish. Of course I’m smitten with the touches of gold foil that lend a sense of luxury to the illustration.


I was in awe of the detail of the piece created by Sarah Jacoby, inspired by Philadelphia’s New Year’s Day parade of Mummers. Traditionally Mummers are groups of people that disguise themselves in costume and visit houses to sing & jest during the holidays. Inspired by the heft of CLASSIC papers, Jacoby created a mask out of simple shapes to form a stunning pattern in shades of red, white and black CLASSIC papers. Classic Linen Digital in Avalanche White was chosen because it enhanced the artisanal feel without distracting from it, printed on an HP Indigo 7000, the image looks every bit as crisp and clean as offset with an added depth from the linen finish.

future-classic-4-parse-parcelInspired by the diverse culture and music history in Oakland, Faun Chapin & Meg Paradise combined music and paper to create a paper object. As illustrators with a strong print background, they employed the use of two of our favorite print techniques: foil stamping and raised UV coating to create a classic vinyl LP featuring some of the area’s best known hip hop artists. The back drop is Classic Crest in pewter featuring hip hop inspired line illustrations in gold spectrum foil giving it a holographic effect. Fastened to the backdrop with a grommet, the record features the line drawings in raised UV coating on Classic Crest Epic Black in stipple, creating the unique surface texture of a classic vinyl record.


As someone born and raised in Buffalo, we take our hotdogs very seriously. About the only city more obsessed than my hometown when it comes to this culinary delight is Chicago. Designer Jay Fleck chose to create an ingenious transit map that illustrates the specific set of ingredients required for an authentic Chicago hotdog. Printing on a dark color like Classic Crest Patriot Blue is not always easy but Jay employed print techniques perfectly suited to the darker shade: two hits of opaque white, silver metallic and foil stamping. To get this type of result requires precise registration.  About the only thing I find fault with is the choice of toppings. I mean tomato slices on a hotdog? 


As if I wasn’t hungry enough from the previous feature, Russell Shawn decided to focus on Atlanta’s neighborhoods as experienced by a foodie. Set against Classic Columns in Safari, this illustrated roadmap to Atlanta’s neighborhood gems is going with me on my next visit to Hotlanta!

Of course these are just the highlights as seen by the eyes of yours truly, but full production details are featured in the back of the piece. Future Classic is a perfect example of the diverse range of colors, textures and weights available when it comes to printing just like the cities represented in it, they provide a great launch pad for creativity and inspiration. 

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