Spec Rep Secrets: The Big Lie About Coated Paper

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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.

The Magic of Digital Metallic Inks

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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.

5 Surefire Signs of a Good Sales Rep

Finding a good rep can be challenging. You may prefer a certain company, but your rep might but be less than adept. On the other hand, you may find a certain rep to be a delight to work with, but perhaps her company’s products/services are too limited. We’ve all been there. And as someone who has been on both sides of the desk, I know all too well the pitfalls many reps and clients face. I thought I’d share my list of tell tale signs a good sales rep exhibits.

AIGA Get Out the Vote!

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When I was a kid I couldn’t wait until I turned 18. I was so annoyed by adults telling me what to do all the time – clean your room, practice the clarinet, be nice to your sister. Sheesh. To me, turning 18 meant freedom. After all, I would technically be an adult and that meant I could do what I want, right? Yeah, I know. But the one thing about turning 18 that remains as true today as it was all those years ago is the right to vote. Given the state of today’s politics, I can think of no greater privilege. So when Parse & Parcel was asked to participate in the AIGA Get Out the Vote exhibit, I leapt at the chance to be a part of it.

AIGA’s Get Out the Vote campaign calls on the power of design to motivate the American public to register and show up to vote on election day. Designers are encouraged to join the campaign by designing and sharing a poster. AIGA has partnered with the League of Women Voters to present an online gallery of non-partisan posters for printing and public distribution. In addition there are two exhibitions that coincide with both the Republican National Convention in Cleveland (July 18 – 21) and Democratic National Conventions in Philadelphia (July 25-28), as well as the AIGA Design Conference in Las Vegas this fall (October 17 – 19).

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Paper & Ice Cream!

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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.

NSS Class of 70 Trading Card Promotion

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I started collecting stationery as a kid in the 70’s. Back then the selection of available stationery was not nearly what it is today. I had a shoe box full of paper ephemera, most of it featuring the likes of Betsey Clark and Suzie Angel. I had no idea what went into producing these gems, I just knew I liked the cute characters and colors they featured. Fast forward forty years to the 2016 National Stationery Show and I found myself lucky enough to be a part of the NSS Class of 70 trading card promotion by Legion Paper – and I loved every single minute of it!

The Design Collection – Color & Texture That Wows

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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.

Biggest mistake graphic designers make with print

The #1 Mistake Designers Make With Print

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I see it happen all the time. Most designers are guilty of it and don’t even realize they’re doing it. It’s not because they’re hacks, I’ve seen some crazy talented designers do this. It’s not because they’re working with nightmare clients. I’ve seen this happen on print projects for dream clients. It’s not because they’re under ridiculous deadlines or on shoestring budgets. I’ve seen plenty of designers produce amazing work under those circumstances. It’s not any of those things. The #1 mistake designers make when it comes to print design that’s ruining their work?  

Lustig Elements Collection – A Labor of Love Comes to Life

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One of the things I enjoy most about working with designers is getting a behind the scenes look at the process of a project. Usually I enter into the process during the pre-production phase, after the design concept is complete and before specs go to printer for quote. It’s always a treat when I get to see a project come to life. The only time it’s more special is when it’s a passion project. A few weeks ago we shared the campaign to fund the development of the font, Lustig Elements, whose roots were born in the 1930s. Today, The Beauty of Letterpress by Neenah presents the Lustig Elements Collection, a remarkable new series of limited edition letterpress prints, commissioned in honor of notable design pioneers Alvin Lustig and Elaine Lustig Cohen.

The Lustig Elements Collection is available for purchase on The Beauty of Letterpress beginning today, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. This first installment of the collection includes four letterpress prints designed by Craig Welsh, of Go Welsh. Only 100 of each print were produced.

The Lustig Elements Collection gets its name from a typeface that modernist designer Alvin Lustig began to design in the 1930’s but never completed. Welsh, a design educator and award-winning designer based in Lancaster, PA, rediscovered the font and began a mission to revive it. Over a four-year period he worked closely with AIGA Medalist Elaine Lustig Cohen to bring the Lustig Elements font to life. The newly completed typeface was created for both wood type and a digital font.