A Paper Installation that Transforms Pixels into Art

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I’m so excited to share with you all our newest paper installation in the sample studio. Parse & Parcel’s sample studio associate and super talented artist, Molly Brill, is the creative mind behind all of our installations – this is number four if you’re counting. In this post, Molly shares her take on the entire process of transforming pixels into art through the medium of paper. Enjoy!

Tackling a blank canvas can be a daunting task for an artist. When your canvas is a wall that spans 24 feet, that feat becomes even greater. As an artist/designer you must utilize every skill set in your arsenal for a successful product. Every step you take in the beginning stages creates a foundation for a smooth process with less headaches. Of course, you can’t always predict every hurdle you might come across, but having a solid game plan sure takes away a lot of uncertainty.

The Envelope Kit – From Neenah, With Love

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I love sending cards. I think it’s one of the most sincere ways to convey a sentiment. Whether it be an expression of gratitude, joy or love – it truly is the thought that counts. But I confess, I am not a fan of card shopping. Mainly because I struggle to find one that’s equally appealing in graphics and message. And don’t even get me started on the envelope. For me, a card is a reflection of the giver and just like choosing what outfit to wear to a shindig, requires a careful amount of thought and creativity. This process would be so much easier if I could just take the image in my head and create my own perfect card and envelope. Well it just so happens that a small group of creatives and myself were able to do just that. Inspired by the arrival of The Envelope Kit from Neenah, Parse & Parcel hosted a Valentine’s Day themed Crafty Hour in the sample studio this week.

Spec Rep Secrets: Start with the Envelope

Colorful identity system by Stitch Design

As a paper rep, my favorite projects to work on with designers were identity systems. They always seem to be the ones that offered the most freedom, especially when it comes to paper specification. Typically once the design elements are established, the focus turns to print and paper. So when it came time to pick the stocks for Parse & Parcel, I figured I got this. After all, paper is my specialty.  But like a bride to be planning her wedding, I got so caught up in the details that I forgot my own rule when it comes to identity design. Start with the envelope first.

The Art of the Thank You Note

art-of-thank-youThey say the handwritten note is making a comeback. The reason for the resurgence in popularity is obvious to those who understand the note conveys so much more than those two words. As we spend our days in a digitally dominated world, it means something to sit down and write a message in your own handwriting. It’s just a nice thing to do, both for the unsuspecting recipient as well as you, the writer. There was a great article in the NY Times recently that’s worth a read on the subject.

There is nothing that makes me happier than the act of selecting the perfect paper to express my gratitude to someone. This goes back to gradeschool, when my best friend Cindy and I began collecting stationery. We loved sending notes to friends and teachers. Today I’m fortunate to have access to some of the most beautiful papers made, so the idea of selecting just one can be a little daunting.

When I’m sending a note from Parse & Parcel, it’s easy. I’m using our notecards printed on Classic Crest Solar White Stipple 130# Cover, featuring our signature dotted rule and logo, hand stamped in silver metallic. It all fits neatly inside a no. 10 policy envelope in either black or kraft. It’s the details like an envelope flap style that make the difference.

For a more casual note of thanks to friends, I lean towards color. Some of my favorites are Poptone’s Orange Fizz, Astrobrights Lunar Blue and Mohawk Via Safety Yellow. Although, I am loving the new color palette in Environment, especially that raw finish in Honeycomb, so friends may start to see that one in the mix.

Other factors I consider beside color are basis weight and texture.  I like a paper stock with some heft to it, usually opting for 120# – 130# cover and depending upon the writing instrument  I am using, I will usually go with a tactile finish – somewhere between a wove and a toothy vellum.

The biggest source of angst among the design community when it comes to note cards is probably the envelope, but it shouldn’t be. Finding envelopes in your color and size of choice is so easy now. Unlike how the industry worked just a few years ago, you no longer have to worry about selecting a paper whose matching envelope was stocked locally. It used to be only one or two national envelope converters were responsible for making all of the proprietary envelopes for the paper mills. Which meant the local merchant needed to stock them if you, the designer, wanted to to use one in a smaller quantity (by small I mean less than a carton which is usually 2500 envelopes/250 per box). As a former paper rep, I can tell you this was frustrating for all parties involved: designer, printer and paper merchant. Thankfully that all changed a few years ago when mills like French, Neenah, Mohawk and Reich began converting and stocking their own envelopes and making them available in small quantities online. The minimums vary by mill, but some are available in quantities as small as 10 envelopes!

So if you haven’t started writing thank you notes yet,  give it a try. I guarantee you it’s not so much what you say but the fact that you took the time to sit down and write a note for someone personally that will be remembered.

Neenah Environment – Fresh Colors, Raw Finish

Environment_Swatch_OpenIt’s hard to believe that Neenah Paper’s Environment grade has been around for 25 years, but it’s true. Long known for its sustainable offering of papers, the grade has been refreshed with a new look and some fab new papers added to the line, and we couldn’t be more excited to check it out.

After looking at the new swatchbook, designed by Jake and Pum Lefebure and the team at Design Army, it’s clear Neenah has given designers what they’ve been asking for: a fresh color palette inspired by natural, real-world surroundings. With descriptive names like Grocer Kraft, Honeycomb, Weathered and Concrete, the line includes seven new colors. Displayed in the swatch alongside the white & midtone shades, they create a simple, fresh waterfall of 30% – 100% PCW paper offerings. But wait, that’s not even the best part.
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Neenah added an amazing new tactile finish to the mix – RAW™. Described as “a unique hand and a generous loft,” we love the way it feels. It’s got a textured, earthy, natural quality to it – and the Grocer Kraft shade is available as a digital sheet as well. Finally, a go to kraft sheet for those smaller print runs. Oh and did we mention Neenah is stocking MATCHING ENVELOPES as well? They are, in 19 styles. And yes that includes catalog, booklet and – wait for it – No. 10 policy envelopes!! (Hello, we just found our correspondence envelope).
New_Environment5As if reading our mind, Neenah has thoughtfully designed this swatchbook to be a great print sample as well. The cover features the new Weathered 130#C and shows off how beautifully the sheet holds an emboss. Flipping it open, on the left side are six pages of print samples, showcasing everything from straight up four color process to silver metallic ink on the raw finish. This piece includes samples of embossing/debossing, opaque white ink on a digital application and a great die-cut and score.

Fresh Colors_Raw finishWe can think of hundreds of way to use this grade – luxury packaging, shopping bags, gift card sleeves, direct mail and the list goes on. So excited to try it, we especially want to see what that Concrete shade in the new RAW finish looks like with copper metallic ink on it. Did you know Neenah offers this really cool tool where you can upload your design and get a real, digital print proof on the actual paper stock you want to use? Such a great way to try before you buy.

Make sure to update your paper cabinet with the new Environment swatchbook, available today. We’d love to hear how you’re using the sheet, join our community and you could win a sampler featuring the new Environment papers.

The Envelope Please

Sunday night most of America will be watching as those words are said before announcing the Oscar winner. While we’ll be watching the Academy Awards along with the rest of the country to see who wins, we’ll also be paying particular attention to the details – the envelope.

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Believe it or not, up until four years ago the most coveted announcement in film making was enclosed in a plain white wove envelope, the kind you’d find at Staples.  All that changed when L.A. stationer, Marc Friedland, founder and creative director of Los Angeles-based Marc Friedland Couture Communications persuaded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science to let him design an envelope that not only visually reflects the tone of the event and looks elegant on television, but be constructed in a way that made it simple for the presenters to open. Leave it to a designer to put the emphasis on utility, with design reinforcing the product’s message.

Each envelope is handcrafted out of four different papers stocks produced in Bavaria. Friedland’s 10-member Oscar team does everything by hand, with over 100 hours of labor including 10 different processes : custom-made paper, hand-tooled die-making, laminating, hand-folding, hand-gluing, hand-wrapping, sheeting, hand-fed gold-leaf stamping, hand-fed embossing, printing and using at least 40 yards of red ribbon.

Inside the envelope, the creators note, is a heavyweight ecru card featuring deco gold foil and accented with a gold-leaf embossed Oscar statuette along with the gold engraved phrase, “And the Oscar goes to…” The winner  is printed in charcoal ink and mounted onto a matching red lacquer hand-wrapped frame. The back of the card introduces a new feature, indicating the specific award category visible to the audience and viewers, they add.

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While creating the design, Friedland said it was important to make sure the card and envelope were not trendy or subject to fashion.  He and his team  looked to the ceremony itself for inspiration. “We took our cues from old Hollywood. The colors of gold and burgundy are the statuette and the red carpet,” Friedland says. “With that in mind, we really felt that this was the most simple, but brilliant-looking, because it also has to look great on stage.”

Friedland emphasizes the importance of the printed envelopes, even as new technologies continue to transform media. “Hopefully the envelope will never become digital because it’s a keepsake,” he said. “It’s the least-tech, most-emotional keepsake I know, and it’s perhaps the most-famous envelope in the world.” We couldn’t agree more.

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Images Via Marc Friedland

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.

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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 .

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Enve & Lope – First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage

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We told you about the courtship between Enve & Lope Earlier this year, now the two love birds have taken their relationship a step further with the announcement of their wedding. The Wedding suite is a recent promotion from Mohawk, the promotional concept and design was developed by Katie Barcelona, of Room 207 Design, and illustrated by Erik Marinovich, a letterist and designer based in San Francisco. Don’t know about you but we hope these two have lots of babies, we can’t wait to see what the birth announcements look like. Join Parse & Parcel and stay up to date on all the best print + paper promotions.

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