As I am now approaching the title of “older dog” in this fair industry of ours called design, I can’t help but wonder about the future of our sister industry, Print. Her much younger, faster and fairer sister, Digital, seams to be courting way more attention from admirers. I think that Print still has a few tricks up her sleeve!
With the ever-growing accessibility and affordability of smart technology and better performing internet ability, the digital platform has literally exploded with advertising and marketing opportunities across all the fields of products and services.
The glossy advertisements that were once lauded over in high end magazines on coffee tables are now being converted into animated, multi faceted and interactive advertisements on mobile and web applications across the globe.
It would seem that poor old print cannot compete with this new digital wizardry, however, I have recently seen an emerging trend of designers re-embracing the printing process almost as a form of fine art. The power that Print has over it’s more techno loving sister is that it engages with all the senses. You do not just see the printed form, you can touch it and even smell it! (and the ladies and gentlemen out there touching and smelling their laptops – you need therapy).
I have noticed that printing companies are getting increasingly innovative with specialised paper stock offerings and also the bespoke finishes that you can now apply to almost any digitally printed piece of design. For example, you can now print a brochure that is staple free, or you can now digitally print white ink on to a black card stock. I recently completed a brochure , printed digitally, where we achieve a clear gloss finish on the selected areas of the cover (what we call “spot UV” in the biz) without it having to be printed off-set! Impacting, affordable and immediate… well almost immediate (24 hours is pretty immediate in the print world).
Another realm where print reigns supreme is with packaging. Attention, product developers!, You can digitally market, promote and advertise your products as much as you like but, last I checked, you still need the power of print to appropriately house your precious innovations! This is another feather in Print’s cap! Digital design may be able to virtually convey three dimensions (and I must admit that this ability is becoming increasingly more real day by day!) but printed packaging is still the master of the physically tangible 3D form.
An example of this, that I will now share with you, is quite ironic. I recently bought a new Macbook Air laptop, a device that is essential in the promotion of digital design, however what caught my eye was the ingenuity of the packaging that housed this new laptop, even to the point that it was almost a sad experience once I had taken it out of the box and discovered all the secret nooks and crannies that contained the power supply and earphones etc. My reasoning behind this, is that packaging presentation, no matter what product is in it, is a very personal experience. There is that thrill of the anticipation of opening it. I suppose that you can get that same thrill by waiting for a page to load on the internet, but ultimately, once you close down your computer or smart device, it is no longer yours to keep.
In summary, the main difference between these two sisters (print versus digital) is that print may not have the vast reach that it once had and digital’s reach is expanding exponentially, but I feel that the physical and emotional impact of printed design not only lasts longer but usually is a more vivid experience.