In case you missed my previous post, this is part two of our post about the making of our topography inspired journal and pencil box set. I’m sharing all the details of the project – the good, the bad and the ugly. Part one was about the concept and design phase of the project. I thought narrowing down paper selections was going to be the difficult part, boy was I wrong. This post is where the production process begins and so do the hurdles.
For most designers the process of creating is rarely a straight-forward line from concept and completion. Projects might be easier with a clear path to success, the reality is it rarely works that way. And that’s a good thing, life and work are about the journey, not the destination. The route between process and product is often a roundabout one, filled with equal parts joy and frustration. This issue of the Maker Quarterly is dedicated to that process. Designed by Hybrid Design, this issue celebrates the conscious path the makers take on the way to the destination. On top of that, Mohawk goes meta by bringing us inside the process of the making of the Process Issue.
When it comes to commercial printing, coated paper is used on the majority of projects. It is considered the workhorse of the print industry. When used thoughtfully, it can be an amazing conduit for beautiful design and production. Printers love running it, and with good reason. It provides a bright, consistently even surface allowing for minimal dot gain, great ink gloss and produces crisp, fine results. Plus it’s fairly easy to run on press. Sounds like a dream, right?
But all too often it’s because of these very reasons that designers do not bother to specify coated papers. Most tend to rely on the printer’s house sheet when printing on coated paper with budget driving that decision or give vague specs like a “No.2 coated.” I’ve seen this happen a thousand times. And the big lie about coated paper most designers don’t know is that they’re giving up way too much for little to no real impact on the budget.
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.
One of the things I love about paper is its ability to connect with people. Growing up I had a pen pal from Manchester, England and one of the things I loved most about getting letters from him was the special airmail paper they were written on. When my penpal and I began correspondence, the U.S. had longed stopped traditional airmail, but not the U.K. So when I saw that red and blue bordered envelope I couldn’t help but get excited. After all, something special was waiting inside just for me. I know I’m not alone in my love of the traditional airmail design, but there’s a reason for its popularity – we connect with it. The same can be said for well designed print campaigns, the tough part is the design. However there are two components creatives can count on – color and haptics. This combo is one-two punch delivering ROI you can see and feel.
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.
I get asked a lot about what are the best environmentally friendly papers for print. Most people believe that just because a paper has 100% PCW that it must be the best choice for their print project, but that’s not necessarily the case. In honor of Earthday, I thought I’d share some tips on choosing the best environmentally friendly paper when it comes to print.
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?
I got an email last week from a former customer of mine wanting info on a printer’s house sheet, which was a private label. The job was scheduled to go to press that day and he hadn’t heard of the paper being used and wanted to know what it was. It’s a fair question. As a creative professional one’s reputation is based on the quality of one’s work, and when it comes to print, paper has a huge impact on the final results. So the fact that my former customer was reaching out to me for answers made me think – do designers really know what they are getting when it comes to a house sheet?
It’s kind of like asking if you know what you are getting when you buy a generic brand at the grocery store. For me, I frequent a local grocer that’s been operating in my city since the early twentieth century. The stores are clean, well stocked, their employees are friendly and knowledgeable, their commitment to sustainability very transparent and their prices are fair – not the cheapest, but that’s OK with me. I trust them to sell me a quality generic brand – not some chemical laden, GMO product imported from half a world away. Obviously not all generic brands are equal and the same goes for private label house sheets. It comes down to one thing – do you trust your printer? Hopefully the answer is yes. If you’re not sure, here are some things to think about when it comes to using private label house sheets.
Here are top tips but if you are looking for more info, check out our earlier post on the subject.
1. Choose paper with the highest amount of PCW content for the job. Did you see that last part? For the job. Just because a sheet is 100%PCW does not mean it is appropriate for every print project.
2. Select a sheet that is manufactured with third party chain of custody certification. Today that means one of three options: FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), or SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), These certifications insure that the paper is coming from a well-managed forest.
3. Select paper that is manufactured with renewable energy – think wind power, solar, bio-mass, hydroelectric – to name a few. Look for the Green-e logo on the swatchbook to insure your paper is made with renewable energy.
4. Select paper that is manufactured chlorine free. When paper is recycled, the manufacturers need to remove the ink on the sheet being recycled – that is done by bleaching.
5. Look for papers made close to home. Sounds simple, but sometimes I think specifiers forget about this and only focus and PCW and FSC – while both are important, if you spec paper that’s made a world away you negate all of the good in your choice by the toll it takes on the environment during transport.
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