For laughs about printing and paper, you can’t go past The Office (UK) tv series, set in the fictional Wernham Hogg Paper Company. Ricky Gervais plays David Brent, a disgusting, self-obsessed lazy character more interested in impressing his staff with so-called funny jokes and uninspiring words of wisdom than he is in advancing the paper company.
Let me tell you a story about a little printing romance. I’m an office administrator, and my job involves a lot of standing around at the printer and copy machine, waiting as copies of meeting agendas and reports run themselves off. It’s boring work, but the best thing about it is, it brought me love. Why? People tend to feel sorry for you when they see you standing around at the copy machine, so they stop to talk. One very nice colleague (a handsome young man, I should add), in particular, used to stop and talk to me a lot. Our conversations started off lighthearted – we talked about the weather, about the latest child star gone bad, and about the best and cheapest places in the neighborhood to buy lunch. Soon, we started to talk about more, and we’d have to take our conversations away from the copy machine. And what do you know: we started dating, and then a year later, he proposed. It was a true copy machines romance.
I love those rare moments when I flip through a magazine, and an advertisement ignites a smirk, or even more impressive, a giggle from my cynical being. In the corporate world, clever and visually stunning ads have become more than a means to sell products, they’ve become art forms.
Here are three great examples of commercial printing at it’s finest.
Despite the rise of the Internet, direct mail marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways you can increase the visibility of your business. If a flyer or leaflet is eye-catching and well-designed, a consumer will take notice of it when it falls out of their mailbox.
While black and white is a cheap option, it usually pays to go color. Choose a reputable printing company that also offers design and layout services. It can be tempting to design your own flyers, but the result is not always professional.
You’ll want to use high resolution graphics (avoid clip art!), corporate colors, clear, easy to understand language, and text in one or two fonts only, preferably. Avoid trying to cram too much information into your direct mail collateral, and ensure that font size is at least 11 point throughout to cater for people with vision difficulties.
Be sure to review and sign off on a printed proof before your direct mail goes to print, as colors often look different on screen.
The printing and paper industries are some of the most polluting and resource intensive industries in the world, responsible for over a third of worldwide timber harvest and 40% of all landfill waste in the U.S. However, great green alternatives are now available with post-consumer recycled paper, vivid soy ink prinking, and more.
For larger posters and custom printing for trade shows or conferences, Stella Color in Seattle uses environmentally-friendly and biodegradable ECO materials for banners, gaiterboard, and more. The materials present mild but noticeable change to the colors, but outweighed by the benefits of materials that reduce your carbon footprint.
Many printers also use soy ink, made from that multi-purpose legume the soybean. Soy ink was originally popularized as a way of decreasing American dependence on OPEC-controlled oil in the 1970s. Today, it’s a non-toxic alternative to petroleum-based inks. And today, more than 90% of daily newspapers in the U.S. are printed with color soy ink for the simple reason that it performs as well or better than conventional ink. Cost may be a limiting factor, as black soy ink is about 25% more expensive than petroleum-based black ink but less ink is needed for the same amount of printing, yielding a net savings.
I don’t want to give away the ending, but if you walk away from the 2007 documentary Helvetica with dry eyes, you must be one cold S.O.B.
Well, okay, maybe not. But it is a fascinating and well-made movie about something no commercial printer can do without: typography. To use the words of the artists who made the film, Helvetica “looks at the proliferation of one typeface as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives.”
Here’s the trailer to whet your appetite:
(This post was brought to you by the letter H, as developed by designers Max Miedinger and Edüard Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland.)
Putting out a print project quickly can sometimes be a necessity, but if you don’t follow certain steps correctly you could end up with less-than ideal results.
Here are two crucial tips to remember when you are sending out a design to a commercial printer to be finalized and printed out.
1) Although it seems like the likely solution, don’t submit the print design files as PDFs. This is because Adobe will set the control defaults for web presentation and not for printing to paper. Instead use a program like Photoshop, Quark, CorelDraw, etc. to ensure proper print controls. When in doubt ask your commercial printer what they recommend you do.
2) Don’t take the design close the edge of the paper. When the content runs close to the edge of the paper, there is a chance that the ink won’t cover the full sheet of paper and parts of the page will be poorly printed or misprinted. The area that is not printed on or the edges, is called the “bleed”. Bleeding is the process by which the ink is deliberately run of the edge of a sheet of paper to ensure full coverage of the content. After the printing process the bleed is trimmed off. This means that you need to print with paper that is larger than your content.
Sometimes even the simplest concepts make the biggest and best impacts on people. If you’ve decided to take on a commercial printing campaign to market your business or organization, your design can make or break the campaigns overall success.
But finding that perfect concept can be incredibly challenging. Luckily, when you aim for small concepts, you don’t have to be a creative genius. Think about something catchy, simple and easy to process.
Some people make the mistake of taking on huge, thematic concepts for their large format printing displays, and they end up being flops. The truth is, you’re fighting for your target audiences attention. They aren’t waiting around to see what you’re going to next, and they surely don’t have time it sit and analyze what you’re tyring to say with your campaign–you have to put it right under their nose. Think of something small, witty, simple and easy to convey in a design.
Sometimes, when you think of a simple concept, you’re able to have a lot more creative freedom with the design, and could very well end up with something that consumers love and respond to.
Understanding history is important in almost every aspect of life. As they say, you don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. In an industry like commercial printing, if you want to advance and better the status quo, the past must be studied and observed. By learning what worked and what didn’t work in the past, you can really understand the current state of the industry and why things are done that way, and in turn it can help you in perfecting your craft and developing the next big thing.
The American Printing History Association is a membership based organization that supports the study of printing and printing related arts and crafts. The organization promoted printing history education by offering conferences, workshops, meetings and seminars led some of the most renowned printing scholars and names in the industry.For more information on joining the APHA, be sure to visit the website, www.printinghistory.org.