So apparently shrieking in the middle of a sales office is a no-no. Sometimes I forget people are actually behind the cubes working as I am walking through to the sample studio. But I couldn’t help it. I just opened up the box Neenah sent and inside were the brand new Touché Papers swatch books. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with the grade – but this is the first swatch book since Neenah acquired the grade. And I have to say, they’ve made some stunning additions to the offering. While the colors are gorgeous, wait until you experience the soft-touch finish of Touché Papers.
Trying to find the perfect kraft paper can make any graphic designer feel a bit like Goldilocks. This one’s too light, this one’s too dark – you get the picture. Before you know it, you’ve spent hours looking at paper samples and you’re still haven’t found the perfect one. Sound familiar? At Parse & Parcel, we get more questions about kraft paper than other type of paper out there. So we dove dive deep into The Swatchbox and put together this guide to help designers find the perfect kraft paper.
I’m tired of the little black dress. Yes, I’m guilty of having one in my closet that I rely on way too much. On paper it checks all the boxes: it’s black, it fits and I can wear it to a number of events. So yeah, technically it works. But does it WOW? No way. And I have to admit, sometimes I want a little wow factor. Well the same can be said about the paper specified for print. Basic white papers are fine for everyday projects. But if you’re looking to create a project that wows – the package that’s too irresistible to touch or the catalog to beautiful not to take – then color and texture are where it’s at. Lucky for us we don’t have to look too far, because Neenah Paper gives us the best of both worlds with their comprehensive new swatchbook, The Design Collection.
There’s something about a bright, new paper swatch book that makes me giddy. To me, it’s the same feeling I had as a kid when I got new school supplies – I’m all excited about the possibilities it holds for future projects. So when the new Mohawk Superfine swatch book arrived in The Sample Studio this week, my wheels started turning. Aside from the fact that I am a huge fan of Superfine (our P&P letterhead and envelopes are printed on the eggshell finish), it also happens to be one of the most versatile sheets out there.
I had been warned. Get to the exhibit hall early on opening night, it’s crazy. So last month at HOW, I left Simon Sinek’s keynote speech a little early so I could be among the first to see all the paper samples from the mills. It worked – but only for one booth. By the time I looked up it was a frenzy of people clamoring to get at all the swag. It was like Black Friday for designers. There was a line that wound its way around the perimeter and through the center of the exhibit hall. After being knocked around several times by these enormous yellow/orange CSA designed packages, I knew where all the fuss was coming. Not one to miss out on a good thing, I hopped in line. It was definitely worth the wait, not only did I get some awesome print samples, I was among the first to catch a peek at Kraft-Tone, the new grade from French Paper.
What’s your favorite color? Most people know instantly what their color of choice is, for me this is a tough one. I find it’s a lot like choosing your favorite ice cream flavor, it kind of depends on my mood. Lucky for me I’m in The Sample Studio all day and can easily find a hue to suit my needs, from white to black and every shade in between. While some may think being surrounded by all this color can make one jaded to it, I am gitty when a mill revamps a grade and colors are re-imagined. Just last week I attended a meeting with some industry paper peeps where we were shown the recent grade refresh of Neenah’s Astrobrights offering. While the rep from Neenah spoke about the big changes to the grade (major additions of basis weights), I could focus on nothing else but the new lemon-lime duplex colors in the new Astrobrights swatch book.
Some might say when it comes to organization I’m a bit obsessed. But when you’re dealing with hundreds of paper samples every day, organization is the key to overcoming overwhelm. The paper mills understand this, so they try to make the process of showcasing their products easier via swatchbooks. Over the years the mills have tried to get inventive with their design, the most recent to deviate from the standard format was Mohawk. I give them props for trying something different but honestly the format was not user friendly. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned they were redoing their swatchbooks. The first shipment arrived in The Sample Studio this week and let me just say the new Mohawk Carnival + Via Swatchbook is so worth the wait.
You know we love anything that makes accessing paper, and paper info easy. So we were thrilled to see our friends at Neenah just released a new version of their online paper resource tool – CabinetTM. Now you can gain access to all of Neenah’s swatchbooks online, so when you need to reference a sheets size, basis weight or color availability you’re not SOL if you don’t have the swatchbook handy.
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.
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!
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.
As a paper spec rep I worked with all types of creatives from art directors and production managers in big agencies, to designers in small to mid size studios, to students and freelancers venturing out on their own. A spec rep has one objective, to make sure their company gets the paper spec resulting in an order from the printer. It sounds easy enough but it’s not – especially if you’re the spec rep trying to justify the cost of your role within the company.
One reason is a lack of communication. Many spec reps never explain to their customer how the process works. They assume the designer knows to tell the printer to buy the paper from them. So when this doesn’t happen, eventually the rep stops calling on the designer. I have to say, I never experienced this. I figured if I was working with the designer on the job, supplying samples or securing special pricing, I should be clear about asking the designer to specify me on the print job. Most customers appreciate knowing this info up front – plus it usually opens the door for an honest conversation about the type of work they do and who they print with.