Foil and Letterpress – What’s Not to Love?

We stumbled across this beauty on FPO, invitations for a celebratory birthday BBQ. Featuring foil stamping and letterpress printing on Crane’s Lettra 110#C Ecru. Don’t you love the kraft envelopes?

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According to the designer, it seemed a few printers shyed away from the project claiming the tight registration required would make it impossible.  Love it when good printing & design defies the naysayers.

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A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

You know that feeling you got the first time you visited Ikea? Aisle after aisle of well designed furniture and accessories, each vignette more appealing than the last – now multiply that feeling by 100 and you get some sense of what the National Stationery Show is like.

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If you’re a first time attendee it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it but it can be  manageable with a little planning and forethought.  The following are some tips to help first timers to the event get the most of their experience this year.

1. Do your research ahead of time.  I know it sounds obvious but if you’re like us, it’s easy to put off and before you know the event is here.  Take the time to review the online catalog gallery beforehand and browse the exhibitors catalogs to get a sneak peek of what’s in store.  Visit the NSS site and start building your list – you can even create a walking list to make navigating the show easier and insure you do not miss any of your must-see booths. Make sure to scour social media sites and google for more detailed info to help plan the experience. There’ll be over 800 designers and manufacturers at the show just to give you an idea of the sheer volume of it – preparation is key.

2. Allow for plenty of time.  You’ll most likely under-estimate how much time you will spend at the show, but that’s ok – make a plan and at least you’ll feel somewhat in control.  Make sure to not only include time to see the products you’re interested in but to allow for time to chat up the designers and stationers – everyone is welcoming and friendly, so ask questions, but do ask permission to take photos and post. Etiquette is really important, so if you’re thinking of opening a store and are not ready to buy, be up front about it so that exhibitors know where they stand and can answer your questions appropriately.

3. Revisit an additional day to fill in the gaps and what you missed from the previous visit.  This is the perfect time to revisit those booths and designers of particular interest and ask the questions that you will inevitably think of after you left the first time. You’ll also want to make note of what’s new this year: Museumix and Officeworks are two new product feature areas exhibiting wares like desk accessories, organizers, calendars, etc.  Also new this year is the Creative Lifestyle & Arts Show featuring products by manufacturers for all things arts & crafts. Your pass gets you into both.

4. Collect contact info.  Make sure to collect business cards and press kits from those exhibitors of particular interest – they will come in handy. Be sure to wear your badge and don’t hoard, those catalogs and kits are expensive to produce so be respectful.

5. Prepare for the day. Wear comfortable shoes (seriously, really comfortable shoes). Bring a large tote bag, but not so big that you knock over people with it. Bring a snack & bottled water – you won’t want to miss a minute of the goodness so pack a snicky or two to tide you over.

If you’re attending your bound to have a memorable experience – a little planning will go a long way.

Spring Cleaning

Neenah_waterfallI don’t know about you but I have been loving the weather over the past week. It’s finally warm enough to open up the windows, let the fresh air in and blow off the dust left behind by winter. This is when I am super-motivated to organize everything in site, and when I look around my office I realize I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Lucky for me Neenah has the perfect promotion to keep busy creatives organized and help stay focused on the task at hand – not to mention demonstrating some pretty amazing print techniques in the process. Neenah’s newest paper promotion, COLOR CODED, was designed by the creative team at Design Army and features Neenah’s flagship Classic brand of papers in a classic organizational tool – the folder.

The promotion is meant to inspire creatives by showcasing the papers in a fresh way, while conveying the hardworking spirit behind the brand. If you are familiar with this family of papers, you know they may be classic – but are anything but boring – and this promotion follows suit. There are six color coded folders in the piece, each one calling out different way the busy designer can utilize this classic element in a different aspect of their work.

Each folder is color coded with a message on the front, either in words or print technique, conveying its organizational usefulness: Now, $, Print Techniques, Score, The Competition and the Black Hole. My favorites are the Print Techniques folder and the Score. The Print Techniques folder pulls out a ton of bells and whistles, featuring silver metallic ink on the cover creating a pattern out of print registration and print slur icons. Printed on Classic Laid (gasp) Patriot Blue, that’s right a laid finish – trust me it’s anything but boring. The piece is a great example of how to utilize a darker color paper to make a big impact.folder_layoutThe Score folder is a great example of using a heavyweight cover to gain maximum effect. Printed on Classic Crest 165# double thick cover, the front features an x-pattern score – giving the piece a quilted, dimensional quality. The interior provides some scoring 101 tips, and as a bonus for all those designers who are crafters as well, a giveaway for a handy scoring tool.

A couple of things are clear with this promotion. Number one – the team at Neenah has been quite busy developing an amazing tool for helping creatives to stay on task with their projects. Number two – it’s easier than some would have you believe to print on beautiful colored, textured papers. Don’t take our word for it, see for yourself and sign up to receive THE PARCEL.

Creative (UN)Blocks

For the client, it’s all about the end result but for the creative it’s usually about the process. How you get there makes all the difference between a product that’s a hit or a miss. For many that process is where inspiration and imagination come together in a plan. The newest promotion from Neenah: CREATIVE (UN)BLOCKS, designed by Chen Design Associates details the journey of how your paper selection can open a whole world of possibilities.

The piece is a four part kit: Study, Play, Connect and Make. Produced entirely on Neenah’s ENVIRONMENT Papers, it’s a display of breaking through the creative blocks that designers face in their everyday work. The kit enables the user to see how the four parts of the process can come together in a myriad of combinations, mirroring the creative process and culminating in the final product.

The idea behind the piece was to provide creatives with real printed material they can refer to when running into one of those creative blocks. The 8×10 inch sized paper promotion breaks into four smaller books, each representing environments where designers find themselves in during the day. Using visual and copy prompts on nearly 150 pages, the books explore these environments and ways for designers to push through their creative blocks:
  • Study: Researching the who, what, where, when and why of a project
  • Play: Exploring new perspectives when creating
  • Connect: Communicating with others in new ways
  • Make: Turning a new idea into a tangible masterpiece

For those of you not familiar with ENVIRONMENT, this is a great piece to learn about the line – which lends itself to four sustainable fiber options. It has recycled content from 30 – 100% PCW, as well as papers made from bamboo and bagasse. Want to see Creative (UN) Blocks for yourself? Sign up today to receive THE PARCEL delivered to your door.

 

The Beauty of Engraving

If you are a fan of paper and print you will love this site from Neenah, thebeautyofengraving.com. The site showcases beautifully designed works featuring  – engraving.  Obviously the choice of paper plays a crucial role with this type of print technique – you’ll want use a highly tactile sheet, some would say go for one with a “toothy” feel to really play up the beauty of engraving.

In case you need more convincing, check out this video – it reminds us why this centuries old print technique is truly an art form.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fjeA5lgjCK4]

Domtar Dares You to DREAM

In Domtar’s DREAM promotion they ask the reader to think back to childhood – when they had no limits, no barriers to their expectations. Like children who play passionately and imagine anything is possible – Domtar asks us to explore a little more when it comes to putting ink on paper.

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From the moment you open the cover of DREAM – which is printed on Cougar 130# cover, four color plus varnish and clear foil – it’s apparent this piece pushes the limits of printing on uncoated white paper. You’ll see everything from solid, heavy black coverage with a registered silver foil, to four color process, to touch plates, to a clear foil using a double etch die for a dimensional feel (where the glitter is on her mask in the image below), to a domed embossed with a spot raised-image UV coating (so cool, feels kind of rubbery) – all printed offset with conventional inks.

Domtar- dares-you-to-dream

Make sure to check out our personal fave: Dream No.5 – Playhouse Dreamhouse, the birch trees look three dimensional, and the smoothness of the sheet really showcases the design elements featured in the photography.

Helpful Tools for Picking a Color Scheme

Who doesn’t love color?  For many creatives, color is at the root of their designs and greatly impacts the feel of the project.  Some days inspiration comes easily, but for those times when you’re stumped on selecting a color palette, here’s a few (free) resources that can help.

Think Ink by Neenah  – Think Ink is a free iPhone application that puts powerful design and color theory tools in the palm of your hand. Create palettes based on colors captured in your photos, your creation of CMYK or RBG values, or Neenah paper colors.Create custom color palettes based on the Dewey Color System®, the world’s only validated, color-based personality testing instrument.  Customize your color palettes in RGB and/or CMYK values displayed for easy reference. Choose from four different color palettes: Subdue, Pop, Classic and Blend. View your color palettes in alternate formats and in type samples. Share you color palettes directly from your iPhone with friends, vendors or clients via email. To see how it works, check out this demo.

Kuler by Adobe is a free online application for generating color themes, also available as an Android App (for now). Explore, search, and create new color themes right where you work with the Kuler panels built into Adobe Illustrator® CS5, Photoshop® CS5, InDesign® CS5.5, Fireworks® CS5, and Flash® Professional CS5.5 software.

Color Scheme Designer– currently in its third iteration, is free but is a  Kickstarter project looking for funding to keep it alive. Featuring color-blind conversion alogorithms, iPhone/iPad app, and a searchable database of color themes created by users.

Colourlovers – an is a creative community where people from around the world create and share colors, palettes and patterns, discuss the latest trends and explore colorful articles.

Confessions of a (Design) Peeping Tom

I love walking the dog in the evenings. It’s not because I’m a health nut, it’s worse – I’m a design peeping Tom.  I love to see how my neighbors decorate their interiors.  My favorite time of year is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s – when holiday decor is in full swing.  I can catch a glimpse of the tree in the foyer all decked out in copper and green, or the fireplace mantel swagged in flocked cedar garland. All of this providing inspiration for my own holiday design.  The same holds true in my work – I love to see what designers are up to when it comes to print design.

So I was thrilled when I received the newest promotion from Mohawk featuring works submitted to their annual print design contest CRUSH – the Mohawk 12 Show Catalog, showcases what happens when designers lust after paper and print. The piece carries through the theme of the entire campaign – “A love affair with paper.”

The catalog details the winning entries, chosen from the best work submitted from all over the world.  Featuring documentary-style photography, the book showcases the work of eight winners and fourteen finalists who were chosen by the SHow 12 jury: Stanley Hainsworth, Tether, Seattle; Jorge Alderete, Illustrator, Mexico City; Michael Jager, JDK Design, Burlington, VT; and Susana Rodriguez de Tembleque, SY Partners, San Francisco.

The book houses over 90 photographs showing off the pieces that caught the eyes of the jury. Crush is printed on Mohawk Superfine, Eggshell Ultrawhite. The cover features a neon-esque fluorescent green, achieved by two hits of green which extends throughout the catalog to compliment the four-color process used for the photos.  The printer used a 20 micron stochastic screen to achieve the results.  Check out the works and catalog for yourself, sign up to join parse & parcel.