One of the things I love about paper is its ability to connect with people. Growing up I had a pen pal from Manchester, England and one of the things I loved most about getting letters from him was the special airmail paper they were written on. When my penpal and I began correspondence, the U.S. had longed stopped traditional airmail, but not the U.K. So when I saw that red and blue bordered envelope I couldn’t help but get excited. After all, something special was waiting inside just for me. I know I’m not alone in my love of the traditional airmail design, but there’s a reason for its popularity – we connect with it. The same can be said for well designed print campaigns, the tough part is the design. However there are two components creatives can count on – color and haptics. This combo is one-two punch delivering ROI you can see and feel.
When I first started email marketing for my previous employer, we had three e-newsletters we published regularly. Given that our audience was made up largely of commercial printers, we’d get some flack about using email to distribute the content (it was 2008 and anything digital was seen as the enemy). Some customers were constantly complaining about it. The worst part though was the email marketing solution we used – it was painful. I knew when I started Parse & Parcel I’d still use email (in addition to the USPS) to communicate content and share with our audience, but I couldn’t wait to find a better email marketing solution. I chose MailChimp because it offered a ton of features. After sending my first email I was smitten, I even convinced my former employer to give it a try. Now I’ve fallen in love with MailChimp all over again, this time for their beautiful use of my favorite media – print! In collaboration with Fuzzco and Theory11, they’ve gone and created some stunning MailChimp Playing Cards.
About this time of year I get a little antsy. Thoughts of wanderlust start to distract me. I’ll get lost for hours on Instagram searching for the perfect escape. For me the ideal destination has the perfect mix of art, design, food, music and horticulture.Not so sure I’ll find one spot with everything on my wish list, even in the dreamiest of Instagram feeds – never mind the distraction it’ll cause in my work day. Thankfully Neenah’s new piece arrived just in time to quell my fall into the time-suck of social media. Future Classic is the newest promotion from Neenah Paper and it focuses on the relationship between destination and design.
It’s no secret I love paper. But over the last decade, things got kind of dicey for the industry I love. Social media became the darling of marketing, and web design got all the attention. Print sales were already declining and a bad economy only sped up the process. Every industry goes through this kind of reset, but not everyone can adapt to the changes needed to survive. A few suppliers got out ahead of things and started advocacy campaigns: Paper Because, Down to Earth, Do You Know the Facts – but much of these resources seemed to focus on promoting and educating those within our industry. That’s not a bad place to start, but to have a lasting impact the industry needed to change the perceptions of those outside the industry. As the economy gradually recovered something interesting happened, people unfamiliar with the industry were becoming enamored with paper. And when you think about, there’s no more perfect medium than paper for connecting people. It’s this sentiment that is at the heart of the new consumer advocacy campaign by The Paper and Packaging Board, How Life Unfolds.
I’ve said it before, I’m kind of a voyeur when it comes to design. I walk the dog at night just so I can check out the interior design of homes in my neighborhood. And if it’s a home of particular note, I let my pooch have a good long sniff around just so I can get a better look. Luckily, when it comes to paper and print design I don’t have to go to such lengths. Many of the paper mills and industry publications host design competitions and share the details with their audience. I got my fix recently when Appleton Coated sent us their new print promotion, O1NE, featuring the 2015 U360 winners.
Last week Parse & Parcel had the pleasure of co-hosting The Strathmore Archives in Cleveland. We teamed up with our friends at Mohawk – makers of Strathmore, and local paper merchant Millcraft, to bring this exhibit to Cleveland. On what had to be the warmest evening of the summer, a group of 100 designers, printers and paper peeps joined us to celebrate the legacy of Strathmore and see first hand the evolution of American graphic design.
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.
I’m a talker. My family and friends will tell you, once you get me started on a subject that I care about, watch out. To me there’s nothing better than having dinner with friends and sharing some great conversation. Depending on the subject, things get kind of lively and that’s when the fun starts. So when the Cleveland chapter of AIGA asked if Parse & Parcel would host a paper reverb and share tips on how to make paper specification a part of the design process, I was all in.
It’s true what they say about side projects – you never know where they will take you. I knew in my heart I wanted to make Parse & Parcel a reality, but taking that leap can be scary. Lucky for me I have some amazing people on my side that have made all difference. For me one of those people has been Christine Wisnieski, an incredibly talented multi-discipline designer based in Cleveland, Ohio. I first met Christine when I was her paper rep, together we got to work on some pretty awesome print projects. She’s always been one of those designers that gets it, especially when it comes to paper and it’s importance when designing for print. So when I finally decided to bring this passion project to life, she was one of the first people I enlisted for help.
I knew at the onset the look and feel of Parse & Parcel had to be perfect, after all it’s a business geared to the design community. I felt Christine perfectly captured the spirit of Parse & Parcel and created a beautiful brand for my business, but was I biased? While supplier feedback had been positive and subscriptions steadily increasing, I couldn’t help but wonder if the industry understood it. Any doubts I had were put to rest earlier this month when Parse & Parcel won Best of Show at the AIGA Cleveland Design 730 Competition. Somebody pinch me.
Cleveland designers, join us in The Sample Studio on June 3rd for an AIGA Reverb all about paper. I’ll share my story on how my paper obsession evolved into a business helping creatives gain unique access to the latest trends in paper, print and design. Joining me will be designer Christine Wisnieski (the creative talent behind all of Parse & Parcel’s branding) and Beth Reardon from Mohawk Fine Papers. Together we’ll chat about how to make paper specification a part of the design process, and how these tips can take your design to the next level. Registration is free to CLE AIGA members and attendees will receive a special gift from Parse & Parcel. Hope to see you there!