Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Paper options limited

As much as I love paper and communication via a tangible item, people are often surprised to find that I'm also a strong believer in using technology to communicate – e-newsletters, email, web sites, electronic brochures, social networking, etc. To me, using electronic forms to communicate daily makes the occasional paper communication that much more important and meaningful. I love when I receive a well-designed, thoughtful piece in the mail or from a company – from a postcard to something more involved. More often, though, items I receive are poorly designed, cheap, and with a muddled message, if one exists at all; reminding me why I find most direct mail a waste of trees. And yes, I'm a designer and owe a portion of my income from designing direct mail.

Where does my diatribe lead? Not where you think. Although I do think electronic communications are a better use of resources in many ways, recently I've seen an unfortunate fallout from the lack of creative design and printing. More and more papers have been discontinued, leaving fewer options to choose from when we can design that creative piece. White or off-white in a dozen textures? You're set. Rich colors? Difficult. Texture in a printable stock? Probably not.

It seems like a classic catch-22. Fewer people are using printed materials for communication, so paper companies are providing fewer papers, giving fewer options for printed pieces. Of course, it does mean that when I do receive a well-designed piece, I'm that much more appreciative. And, it does force us designers to be that much more creative.

The cinnamon-colored paper used in this set is just an example of an amazing paper no longer available.

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