Pantone 2016 Color of the Year – Paper Picks

2016 Color of the Year - Top Paper Picks | Parse & Parcel

I have to say when Pantone announced their new Color of the Year for 2016 I wasn’t too surprised. I noticed this combo take hold in pop-culture a few years ago. It could be spotted popping up everywhere, from the art-direction of (then new) lifestyle magazines likes Kinfolk and Cereal to luxury packaging design like that of Bing Bang NY, to the set design and cinematography of The Grand Budapest Hotel. You could see this coming a mile away. But what Pantone did do that was a total departure from years past. The 2016 Color of the Year is a first for Pantone, they selected two colors to bestow the honor on this year, Rose Quartz & Serenity – a two-fer. While it’s nice they offered up the color match for us, it doubled the work for those looking to match paper for things like invitations, stationery and envelopes. I know what at total PITA trying to find on epaper color match can be, let alone two. No worries, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you and complied a list of my top paper picks for Pantone’s 2016 Color (or colors) of the Year.

National Stationery Show – Promotion Celebrating 70 Years

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It’s no secret, I’m nuts about stationery. I’ve been collecting it since I was a kid, my BFF Cindy got me into it when I was 8 or so. We’d beg our moms to take us to the local stationery store so we could stock up on all our faves – Suzy Angel, Ziggy (it was the late 70’s) and anything with Snoopy on it we had to have. We each housed our collection in a shoe box we covered with gift wrap. And we were constantly sorting them, arranging them by size, color and order of importance. But the best part was the trades. We’d pour over each others collection and then offer up trades trying to get the other’s prized possession. For me, it was always this yellow notecard with an illustration of a girl on the front holding a fish bowl (I think). Don’t ask me why but I had to have it. I’d offer up 9 or 10 different cards in exchange for just that one, but Cindy never budged. Eventually more important things diverted our attention (like boys) but my love of stationery never wavered. So you can imagine my excitement when Parse & Parcel was asked by Legion Paper to collaborate on a promotion commemorating the 70th year of the National Stationery Show in a special  The Legion Paper Trading Card Pack

The Perfect Mix of Black & White with a Touch of Glam

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There’s something about mixing and matching unexpected elements I just love, but it’s not always easy to pull off.  Combining upscale glam with industrial utility, the team at Ghost managed to do just that with the branding they created for The Factory. Like a swanky new year’s eve celebration in the gritty part of the city, this identity and packaging design is the perfect mix of black & white with a touch of glam.

Sending Some (Print) Holiday Cheer

parse-parcel-holiday-cards It’s been a busy year at Parse & Parcel. We launched our business complete with a new website and subscription products, moved into a new space, set up The Sample Studio and added two members to our team – Molly & Chris.  I am incredibly grateful to be able to do what I love and help the print and design community that means so much to me. I knew I wanted to do something special this holiday season to say thank you to everyone who has supported Parse & Parcel this past year. With that being said, I wanted whatever we did to be true to our mission to help educate and inspire. What better way to deliver paper inspiration than by sending each member of our mailing list a set of custom holiday cards?

I knew I wanted to give something special to our members that would be both education and functional, so I decided to focus on using colored and textured paper stocks to demonstrate what could be done with digital printing. I chose digital because although it’s used a lot, I still don’t see much being produced on tactile, color paper.

Paper Obsession: Louise Fili Notecards

Louise-Fili-NotecardsIt’s no secret I love stationery. I’ve amassed quite a collection over the years, and am always on the hunt for interesting pieces to add to it.  You name it, and I probably have an example of it – everything from Victorian (I know but my mom gave it to me) to hand marbled Florentine papers to letterpress kitsch. Lately I’ve been obsessed with vintage Italian typography in all forms – from signage to packaging design.  You may have seen our post on the Perfetto! pencils and packaging we scored earlier this year.  Now I am obsessed with these Louise Fili notecards and packaging she designed for Princeton Architectural Press.

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.

Paper Inspiration: Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress Papers

I’m not not sure exactly when it happened but at some point during my career I fell head over heels for letterpress. Really, what’s not to love? From a light-weight kiss (slight impression) to an impressive bite (heavy indentation), letterpress imparts a tactile, hand-crafted feel that’s second to none. Which is probably why everyone from blushing brides to tech startup founders are swooning over the time honored print technique. To insure beautiful results, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right paper – for many letterpress designers and craftsmen that means using a high cotton content sheet. One such grade recently added to the swatchbox is Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress Papers from our friends at Mohawk.

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Since its beginnings in 1892 the Strathmore name has been associated with innovative cotton fiber papermaking. Its symbol is the thistle, taken by Strathmore’s founder Horace Moses, from the native flora found in Scotland’s Strathmore Valley. Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress papers have been designed to emulate the look and feel of handmade papers, with a luxurious surface that allows for a beautiful contrast between the sheet and the printed impression. Available in four colors: Ultimate White, Soft White, Smoke Gray and Chino – all have been carefully selected to meet the creative needs of traditional social stationers and new letterpress printers. Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress is available in two calipers: 18 pt for digital printing and 20 pt for letterpress printing. And there’s matching 80# Text envelopes available in square or Euro flaps!

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The sheet is pure cotton in its makeup, which allows it to be bulky yet still feel soft. It’s this softness from the cotton that allows for a nice impression of the letterpress image. The bulkier 20 pt. weight allows for a heavy bite with little to no show through on the back, which is great for fans of overbite. And with that matching Euro Flap envelope, visions of letterpress lovelies already dance in our heads. Stay up to date on all the latest in paper (letterpress or otherwise), and join our community.  And if you missed it, here’s a recent post on designing for letterpress in case you need a few pointers.

Giveaway: Jessica Hische Daily Drop Cap Stationery

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From the time I learned cursive in second grade, I’ve been fascinated with lettering. I love everything about it – the curves, the loops, the flourishes. I think I covered every square inch of my folders in middle school trying to perfect the lettering of my favorite band (The Doors) – I was 13 and had a thing for Jim Morrison. I drove myself nuts trying to get the proportions of the “o” correct. Now, anytime I see a sample featuring hand lettering it goes in my keeper file. So you can imagine my delight when I heard of Jessica Hische’s Daily Drop Stationery for the Luxe Project.

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A letterer and graphic designer, Jessica Hische began the Daily Drop Cap project in 2009 illustrating a decorative letter every day until she completed twelve sets of alphabets. Now she’s turned the gorgeous project into a full line of stationery for the The Luxe Project by Moo. The collection includes a full suite of luxe products including letterhead, business cards, notecards and mini-cards (so cute) all printed on one of our favorite papers – Mohawk Superfine. The self professed crazy cat lady is donating 100% of the proceeds from sales of her collection to the ASPCA.

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We were lucky enough to have Jessica answer a few questions for us. Check out Jessica’s insights on the Daily Drop Cap project, her take on ‘procrastiworking,’ and the importance of paper specification among other things.

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.

A Designer’s Delight: The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wes Anderson creates a world with his movies and the goal is for that world to come to life. His current film, The Grand Budapest Hotel certainly does that. Featuring a palette of pinks, violets and reds, the film tells the story of the charming, dedicated hotel concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) as he fights to claim the inheritance left to him by one of his beloved clients (Tilda Swinton) from her villainous sons (Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe).