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.
I start my workday pretty much the same way, by grabbing a sheet of paper and scrawling out all the things I want to accomplish. My method is to write down everything in my head. Once it’s on paper I can stop obsessing and start working. Of course I am overly ambitious, and by Friday my desk is cluttered with piles of half completed lists. I needed a better way to plan my workday and projects. I tried tons of analog options. After spending a small fortune on pretty, but non-functional planners, I was at a loss. Nothing worked for what I needed. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and am so excited to share Parse & Parcel’s very first stationery endeavor – The Planner.
Most people think great design is the key to producing amazing print.
Great design is only half the battle. In my opinion, the reason many print projects fail isn’t because of the design. It’s because of a lack of detail.
Designers who are known for creating amazing print design, are involved in every aspect of the process – from concept through to production. And that includes specifying and sometimes even sourcing the paper.
For some of you, this may seem like a no brainer. But I’d ask you, how often are you settling for the printer’s house sheet on your work? Be honest. When was the last time you actually had work produced on the paper you envisioned using and specified for the job?
You can blame it on a lack of budget, availability issues, or a tight deadline. Those are just excuses. Every print project faces those same challenges.
The truly memorable, award winning work excels not in spite of, but because of those challenges.
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.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – packaging design is all about the details. It has to be, especially when it’s geared towards the B2C market. The whole point is to get noticed enough that the consumer actually picks up the product. It’s not enough to merely have an attractive color palette and a standout logo mark – while those are critical elements of branding, they’re table-stakes in the world of packaging design. If you really want a product to get noticed, one needs to create an experience filled with excitement and the promise of delight for the buyer/recipient. And that’s exactly how I felt from the moment I first laid eyes on the Wondermade packaging.
I first learned about the talented creative team of Oat when I was writing about their work for a feature on Oh So Beautiful Paper. The brand identity work I profiled was such a great example of the kind of print results that can be achieved when combining different paper stocks and production techniques. Jennifer Lucey-Brzoza and Rory Keohane are the principles of Oat, a multi-disciplinary design studio in Massachusetts. It was during this process they shared they were getting ready to launch their new stationery line, NOAT. Turns out I was already a fan of NOAT and didn’t even realize it.
Get the Free Guide with our Top Tips for Creating Memorable Packaging
I have a thing for little blue boxes.
Of course, the ubiquitous blue box of Tiffany & Co. makes me swoon. I’ve saved every one I’ve ever gotten. Every. Single. One. (Which is currently four, btw).
Every once in a while I’ll peek inside the drawer I stash them in for safe keeping. Just looking at them makes me feel all fuzzy inside.
But this isn’t anything unusual.
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.
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.
There’s nothing like the promise of paper samples and sprinkles to get busy designers to take a break and venture out of the studio for an afternoon. Last week we teamed up with two of our faves, Millcraft and Neenah, to host an intimate paper & ice cream social for creatives.
Showcasing the brand spanking new swatchbook release of The Design Collection, creatives got a first-hand look at some inspiring ways to use color and texture to enhance their print design. Along with the swatch book update, Neenah released a fab little sampler of designer’s fave techniques produced on the fifteen different grades that make up The Design Collection.