Contents 05 - 06 Introduction
07 - 08
09 - 10
Anatomy of a Multidisciplinary Studio
11 - 18
KentLyons Interview & Profile
19 - 26
Airside Interview & Profile
27 - 34
YES Studio Interview & Profile
35 - 36
The Future of Print
37 - 40
Are JPEGs the New Album Covers?, A. Shaughnessy
41 - 50
Generation Press Interview & Profile
51 - 56
The Future of Print, K. Krozser
57 - 58
Summary & Thanks
Introduction Over the course of my three years at Leeds College of Art my design thinking has changed considerably. When I was a green first year I had no clue quite what I was doing or where I wanted to go. I felt like I had to learn the fundamentals of graphic design before I could even begin to navigate my way through the subject. This is exactly what I did, thrown in at the deep end into what can only be described as a boot camp for graphic designers. This was of great benefit to everybody enrolled on the degree. I personally developed a greater understanding for typography and use of image, picking up on the relationship and tension that can be created between the two. I must admit that during this incredibly steep learning curve of a year I went print process mad and this carried on early into my second year. Foiling this, flocking that, I soon realised that in order to progress my graphic design to the next level I would need to look further than the superficial finishes available to me and push concepts further and develop ideas to a more complete end point. Needless to say that after this epiphany another steep learning curve ensued â€“ developing my idea and concept generation, lateral thinking and contextual understanding. I was now not only trying to make things look nice but also give them a real world grounding with realistic context. There were no more piein-the-sky projects but briefs that had substance. A direct result of this is the development within my own practice of what can be described as professional restraint. No longer would I jump at the chance to add a process to a project, but rather I would consider the implications of such a process and if it was necessary or would enhance the design in some way. As mentioned, I have a fundamental love for print and all of the processes and practices involved within it. I donâ€™t think there is anything more exciting than receiving a parcel from the printers â€“ the anticipation of opening such a parcel makes this job incredibly rewarding and satisfying. However, I now find myself at a crossroads within graphic design. Can a print designer realistically operate successfully within the creative industries? Moreover, do I want myself to only be considered as a print designer? 4
Over the past six months of my degree I would have to admit there has been a change in my thinking. Perhaps this is in part due to the immediate issue of getting a job once I graduate. I have always enjoyed the digital side of design but never considered it a core part of my practice. I have now come to realise though that being ignorant to the digital delivery of design is potential career suicide. I admit that the final major project of my degree is the wrong time to be learning web design, coding and animation but what I have developed (in conjunction with skills picked up over the course of the three years) is a solid understanding of multidisciplinary design â€“ developing and presenting a project as a coherent whole across many media outlets. I would never consider myself a coder, and I would never want to. Besides, there are degrees out there where people learn these specific skills. The skills I have learnt over the course of my degree are what I consider the fundamentals of graphic design and as such are transferable across different media. I have come to realise that my skill set is extremely versatile but the string missing from my bow is that of digital delivery. I am aware that it is through collaboration with other specialists that I can grow and learn as a designer. This is why my sights are set on working at multidisciplinary design studios in order to expose myself to as many sides of design as possible. This leads us to this book you hold in your hand. The focus of which aims to look at the nature of multidisciplinary studios and the future of print. In my eyes both are intrinsically linked. You might say that the decline of print is in direct correlation to the expansion of multidisciplinary studios and the success of the work they produce. This is not to say that they donâ€™t have a deep love of print, but are reacting to the developments in industry, culture and technology. This book aims to surmise my own feelings about graphic design. In many ways this book is a snapshot in time of me looking forward to where I want to go and what I need to learn to get there. Ollie Saward May 2011
Combining or involving several academic disciplines or professional specialisations in an approach to a topic or problem.
Anatomy of a Multidisciplinary Studio Diagram depicting the overlap and vairety of skills utilised by multidisciplinary design studios. It is this overlap that provides them with the perfect skill set to deliver full service design to their clients.
Graphic Design Retail & Exhibitions
Branding & Identity
mes Digital TV Screensavers & Downloads Music Promos
Idents & Titles
WE GET BORED PRETTY QUICKLY
Jon Cefai, Creative Director, KentLyons 10
KentLyons Interview Was the decision to operate as a multidisciplinary studio something you aimed for at KentLyonsâ€™ inception? Yes, we get bored pretty quickly. We wanted many fingers in many pies. We could have easily settled into a rigid job position (project manager, programmer) each but we feel that it is much better and productive to have an understanding of many processes, if not only for our own personal sanity. What are the benefits from operating as a multidisciplinary studio? Never a dull day. Are studios that specialise in one area of design (print, web etc) at a competitive disadvantage? Not really as clients still like the reassurance that a company has done what they require a million times... however the client is at a competitive disadvantage as what they receive can sometimes be run of the mill without the advantage of more lateral thinking A sad thought butâ€Ś are JPEGs the new album covers? Is there still a place for printed matter in graphic design? Of course not. Of Course. What one development (software, technology, theory etc) do you believe will have the biggest impact on your design work over the next ten years? Touch screens are changing the way users behave and interact with screen-based content.
KentLyons KentLyons is a multidisciplinary graphic design agency based in the centre of London. Their work and creative projects include branding, print, interactive and environmental design. In their own words: ‘Formed in 2003, KentLyons has an excellent track record in producing effective graphic communications that engage and entertain. We work with some great clients such as Channel 4, LV=, D&AD, BBC, Booktrust and Taschen.’ Their work spans many disciplines but perhaps the most notable is the work that they do for the BBC – producing micro sites for BBC events such as Glastonbury and the Electric Proms. If you’re designing websites for the likes of the BBC, who already have an award winning web design team, you must be doing something right! In addition to the websites printed ephemera and visual instillations are designed for events. As well as being savvy with digital design another thing that I like about KentLyons is their attention to detail when it comes to print. A perfect example of this their book ‘Pulp Paper’ designed in collaboration with Generation Press and GF Smith. It is a stunning piece of design that documents the manufacture of paper and contains interviews with famous designers on the subject of paper. Most beautiful of all is their use of photography in the books layout - it has certainly inspired me to use more photography within my own work. A good photo can pay dividends to a piece of design or project.
BBC Glastonbury Website 2010
BBC Electric Proms Projected Instilation 14
Pulp-Paper - documentary book about the production of paper. 15
London Olympia Promo
This project demonstrates perfectly KentLyons ability to create a synthesis between the digital and physical deliverables of a project - using type and image to create a common link across all media.
I wanted to do everything.
Nat Hunter, Creative Director, Airside 18
Airside Interview Was the decision to operate as a multidisciplinary studio something you aimed for at KentLyons’ inception? Alex, Fred and I have different but complementary skills - I have always been interested in the digital side of things, Fred has had more of a graphic design and illustration bent, Alex was more 3d. Some surprising things happened from that - we all became interested in animation even though that was not in any of our backgrounds. One of the reasons we started Airside was because we felt that the jobs that were out there at the time pigeon holed us - for me I would have had to be a programmer OR a graphic designer OR direct/produce a project. And I wanted to do everything. What are the benefits from operating as a multidisciplinary studio? You can give a rounded feel to a brand - think about the personallity of the brand then run it out over whatever media is appropriate. Over the last decade many studios have become multi disciplinary and most brands have consistent brand expressions in all media now. From a personal point of view it keeps things interesting to be working on an App one week and a piece of print the next. Are studios that specialise in one area of design (print, web etc) at a competitive disadvantage? Sometimes it’s good to have experts in one particular field. Although I do think it’s important to learn good collaboration skills so a digital studio can partner with a print studio to deliver joined up solution. A sad thought but… are JPEGs the new album covers? Is there still a place for printed matter in graphic design? The music industry is certainly going through an identity crisis when it comes to format. However, 14 year olds I know are still buying CDs so maybe the real world format is not yet dead. What one development (software, technology, theory etc) do you believe will have the biggest impact on your design work over the next ten years? I hope companies will start to understand that design thinking should be present at the heart of the business and not just as a pretty addon. Design thinking and service design can create a brand which is consistent across all customer touch points - from the website to the call centre to a retail outlet. When a company (like Apple) do this, the brand is strengthened and trusted in a way that a glossy image alone cannot do. www.airside.co.uk 19
Airside London based studio Airside describe themselves as a crossdiscipline design studio that work across the disciplines of graphic design, illustration, digital, interactive design and moving image. Founded in 1998 by Alex Maclean, Fred Deakin and Nat Hunter, Airside’s unique approach has won many awards including recognition from D&AD, Bafta and Design Week. They have carved out a name for themselves within the design industry for their use of humour in their work and penchant for a lively mix of character and type design. Personally I find their work a great influence to my own practice – it has taught me to never be afraid to use colour and most importantly to have fun with my work. Their lateral thinking across all media for projects means that their clients get a fully formed project at all customer access points, in all media. This I exactly the approach to design that now informs my work. The idea of providing a total service, or at least working in a team that provides a total service to clients is my goal. In Nat’s responses on the previous page I picked up on the idea of the appropriateness of a media from brief to brief and this type of thinking I have developed during my time as a student. I also like her comment ‘From a personal point of view it keeps things interesting to be working on an App one week and a piece of print the next.’ It this adaptability that I will continue to build and develop after my studies, the result of which will mean my career is continually challenging and interesting – two reasons why I became a graphic designer.
Alphabunnies - Creative Type Experiment
Typadelic Poster - Advertising Airsideâ€™s talk at the Typographic Circle
Lemon Jelly - Album cover art & direction.
Pop Logo & Identity
Granimator - Interactive graphic wallpaper created for iPad. 24
Airplot - identity and typeface for Greenpeace campaign. 25
itâ€™s essential to work with many forms of technology, whether that be letterpress, photography or web-design.
Simon, Creative Director, YES Studio 26
YES Studio Interview Was the decision to operate as a multidisciplinary studio something you aimed for at KentLyons’ inception? YES started out as a primarily print based studio, although we had dabbled in TV graphics and title sequences. We had various unsuccessful collaborations, where outside companies were commissioned to create websites, the results were not of the sufficient standard and reflected badly on us. This led to us building a small inhouse team that could operate at a high technical and aesthetic level within this area.. What are the benefits from operating as a multidisciplinary studio? I guess we could broadly be called a ‘visual communications studio’ – a contemporary interpretation of this is that we would operate within a wide variety of mediums. To make things relevant and challenging (and economically viable) we believe that it’s essential to work with many forms of technology, whether that be letterpress, photography or web-design. Are studios that specialise in one area of design (print, web etc) at a competitive disadvantage? I feel studios & individuals that are not engaging with web design are risking becoming obsolete. 10 years ago a company would approach a design studio to create stationery, print material, brochures etc. in the majority of cases this is not the situation today. A website is often much more necessary than materials which will only have a very limited distribution. A sad thought but… are JPEGs the new album covers? Is there still a place for printed matter in graphic design? We love print, books and tactile objects, in addition to the dynamic possibilities of digital media. Our Warp20 project proves that there is a market for physical, desirable formats. I always thought plastic CD packaging was pretty disposable in many cases. I guess JPEG thumbnails are an extension of the more ‘consumable/mass produced’ side of things. At least less trees and petro-chemical wastage occurs with JPEGs! What one development (software, technology, theory etc) do you believe will have the biggest impact on your design work over the next ten years? We find the tension and dialogue between print and screen-based media fascinating. I think these seemingly opposing set of ideas and parameters will continue inform the work that we make. www.yesstudio.co.uk 27
YES Studio YES is a London based commercial art studio founded in 2004. Their methodology is ideas led, and informed by the individual characteristics of each commission. A distinctive approach to typography and image making has earned the studio a reputation for engaging, well-crafted work across all media. The studio’s diverse output includes projects for publishing, music, art, fashion and broadcasting clients. These projects include the design and art direction of books, record sleeves, identity and branding, printed matter, websites and title sequences. The forward thinking studio explores the ‘tension and dialogue’ between print and screen-based media to great effect, producing considered well-rounded work. It is this working between the two apparently opposite disciplines has not only built their studios reputation but also informed their own development at the same time. It is their love of not only digital design but the physical aspects that I really like about YES. Their Warp20 project is testament to this. There is a great deal of care placed on all of their physical work with emphasis placed on the end users interaction. It’s this care that I try to reflect in my own work whether it print or digital.
The Hi-Fi - series of hand-printed serigraphs.
Warp20 - Label 20th anniversary box set
Penguin Design Series Book Covers The Language of Things - book design 31
Santucci & Co. - lookbook & stationary
Santucci & Co. - website design
Another great example of a synthesis between studio and the clients needs. High quality printed matter that translates directly to high quality online promotion.
The future of Print
What does the future hold for the age old craft of print?
Are JPEGs the New Album Covers?
Adrian Shaughnessy, November 4th 2007, designobserver.com 36
Over the past few months I’ve been researching a book about current record cover art. Besides hunting down examples of stimulating music graphics, I’ve also been looking for digital alternatives to the traditional album cover. As downloading threatens to become the main distribution method for recorded music, it is widely believed that the album cover will be replaced by some new online format — perhaps animated — that will make CD packaging redundant. Well, I might be missing something, but I’ve found nothing in the digital arena that offers a viable alternative to a well-designed CD or vinyl album cover. Instead, I’ve discovered a grim-faced resistance movement amongst dozens of tiny record labels determined to hang onto physical packaging and expressive cover art, no matter what. This resistance movement is found mainly amongst independent labels — micro labels — often run by a single individual, and often existing on budgets that would embarrass a shoestring. And what distinguishes so many of them is a deep-rooted commitment to selling physically packaged music with resonant cover art. It’s not worth discussing what the major labels are up to: they haven’t got a clue. There used to be five major record labels; when Sony and BMG merged this became four, and now it is hotly predicted that another merger will reduce the number to three. These lumbering conglomerates are doing what they have always done: waiting for someone else to show them the way forward. In the meantime, as they dither and prevaricate, their domain is encircled by Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, WalMart and various corporate entities with the wherewithal to offer digital downloads to an eager public. For anyone who cares about music, this is hardly a heart-warming prospect. And yet, is the determination of the micro labels to continue producing CD and vinyl packaging anything other than the remnants of a fanboy obsession with recorded music common amongst people who grew up in the pre-digital era? Most of the label owners I’ve interviewed for my book have talked about the usual teenage interest in band logos, enduring love affairs with New Order album covers, and fixations with the “smell of records.” But are we talking about something deeper here? Does music need some sort of physicality to maintain its intrinsic value? If our favourite music merely exists as a sliver of invisible code on a computer, do we lose something? In a recent Guardian article, “It’s a Steal,” the novelist John Lanchester wrote about literary copyright. He detailed Google’s ambitious attempts to digitize the world’s literature. 37
Lanchester has some sharp things to say about the way copyright and intellectual property rights are being eroded in the digital age, but he gives a cautious welcome to Google’s plans, and does not foresee the end of books. “Personally, I think that books are going to be OK, for one main reason: books are not only, or not primarily, the information they contain. A book is also an object, and a piece of technology; in fact, a book is an extraordinarily effective piece of technology, portable, durable, expensive to pirate but easy to use, not prone to losing all its data in crashes, and capable of taking an amazing variety of beautiful forms. Google Book Search is going to be a superb tool for accessing the information in books; but how much of Middlemarch or White Teeth or Tintin in Tibet is information? You can see [...] just how much of the cultural history of books, and their cultural importance, lies in their bookness. This will, I think, dilute the impact of digitization for writers and publishers: even if you could rip an MP3 of Moby-Dick, who on earth would prefer it to a bound copy?” Lanchester phrase, “an amazing variety of beautiful forms,” applies to the best music packaging as much as it does to books. There is an undeniable sense of completeness when music comes with handsome packaging and engaging graphical material. I download music, and while I have gripes with the poor audio quality of most downloads, I do it happily enough, relishing its instantaneousness and convenience. I tell myself that there’s no good reason to need music to be packaged since one of its greatest assets is its lack of materiality — if you really want to enjoy music, listen to it with your eyes closed. And yet, when I analyze my feelings towards the digital files that sit on my laptop, iPod, or neglected backup discs, I find that I care less about them than I care about the CDs and vinyl discs I own. An audio file with a thumbnail JPEG of the album cover will never have the resonance — not to mention the commercial value — of a well-made piece of packaging. But if the corporate providers of downloadable music have their way, this is the future of recorded music. Who ever had a love affair with a JPEG?
Who ever had a love affair with a JPEG?
Print is Not Dead! Print has just begun a new chapter
Scrub Hewitt, Owner, Generation Press 40
Generation Press Interview Do you think the print industry will print ever totally die out in this increasingly digital age? No! I hope not anyway. The craft of print will stay but to what level remains to be seen. What do you feel is the value of print delivery over digital delivery? Creativity, flexibility and quantity A sad thought butâ€Ś. are JPEGs the new album covers? Absolutely not. There is still a strong desire within consumers for the physical objects that house music. A JPEG will never come close to the level of interaction felt by the user of the physical format. The physical production of packaging may have been scaled down by record labels but this means that emphasis has shifted to quality over disposable mass production. Is there still room for printed matter in the increasingly sustainable marketplace? Yes (see below). What steps have you put in place to enable Generation Press to remain ecologically viable? Is it a subject close to your heart? Every step of our way is informed by our sustainability, it helps understand our processes even better and reduce waste to a bare minimum. Yes this is very close to our hearts With your focus on specialist promotion & print, is it your firm belief that information needs some sort of physicality to maintain its intrinsic value? The less it is being used the more valuable it will become... Any final words on the future of print? Print is Not Dead! Print has just begun a new chapter
Generation Press - Adapt Tradition The following article is taken from Wired Magazine, March 2010. It outines the continuous evolution of Generation Press’ business in order to move forward with the inevitable evolution of the print industry. In the article Generation Press are selected as one of twenty companies seen as the World’s most innovative businesses. Alongside the likes of McLaren F1 and Howies. Yikes! ‘New processes and fresh ideas all look in the same direction, forward; innovation is over the next hill and talent is often seen as the provenance of the young. So it’s refreshing to find yourself in a conversation with England’s most soughtafter printmaker, Paul “Scrub” Hewit, talking about the value of patience in business -- a lesson that he learned from his grandfather. Hewitt’s Heidelberg presses sit nestled in the heart of the Sussex countryside, in a 16th-century Grade One listed barn in the village of Poynings. Building on his forefathers’ foundations, he is the fourth generation of his family to be a printer. For the last decade, Hewitt, 40, has pushed the boundaries of print by continually engaging with new demands in graphic design, drawing on a legacy of over 200 years of practice in a firm called, fittingly, Generation Press. The stability that this knowledge brings allows him, conversely, more freedom to fail; greater opportunity to find incremental innovation within a field of peers. “Don’t stick to what you know,” Hewitt says. “Evolve it.” In his time the company has developed its own inks, engaged in guerilla sampling and embraced environmentally sustainable paper, working for clients including Gucci, Paul Smith and the Ministry of Sound. The amount of paper produced by Generation Press in the last 12 months would stretch 900km, but every single job is polished as if it were Hewitt’s own family silver - which, of course, it is.’ Scrub’s reaction on the Generation Press blog: ‘What is particularly pleasing about this article is that it is about how we do business, rather than the work we have produced with the amazing designers we have been lucky enough to work with up until now. I believe this is about running an honest business, a very talented team, passion and relationships! Thats our innovation.’
Generation Press Eco Icons 43
KentLyons - Pulp Paper Launch Invitation 44
Build - Build Works (1) Portfolio Book 45
A+B Studio - Life Unlimited Identity & Stationary 46
Build - Design Museum Shop 47
Build - Lard Book 48
Fallow - Look Book 49
The Future of Print
Kassia Krozser, July 6th 2010, booksquare.com/the-future-of-print 50
I’ve spent the past month listening and reading. I reminded myself of all the positive, cool, exciting projects happening in publishing today — and there are many (I’ve been asking those involved to post here to share what they are doing). I’ve considered what happens next, and focused a lot on what readers are saying, about books, digital and print. Though everybody is writing about ebooks and the digital experience these days, I find I don’t have much new to add to the conversation; I’ve said it all before. Sometimes I was right, sometimes I was wrong, sometimes I evolved. I still absolutely believe that user experience is — after the content of the book — the most important place for publishing types to focus their attention. I’ve given up on reading banal analysis and wild conjecture. I ignore anything with the word “killer” in the headline or lead. If there’s a question mark in the headline — Will the iPhone Destroy How We Cook Dinner? — I don’t even bother to click through. I presume it’s a question the writer is asking himself, not actually bothering to consider with any depth. It’s just vague punditry designed to fill the web equivalent of column inches. That is not to say there isn’t smart analysis out there, but tea leaves from a moment in time do not predict the entire future. We spend far too much time worrying about who will “win” (what this means, nobody can say) and who will “lose” (again, what does this mean?) and what people really want. This final one annoys me the most because the pronouncements often come from those who have no idea how the technology they are praising — or dismissing — is used by real people. Which leads me to an email I sent to my friend Melissa Klug, a book and paper aficionado. She thought she was asking for a few quick thoughts on the future of print. She got a mediumlength essay (mostly reproduced below…mostly, because I cannot resist editing and revising and rethinking and updating). For those who prefer an abstract to reading long pieces, I’ll make it easy: print will remain important, but our relationship with print will change. Print is not dead. It is not even dying, at least not yet. Think of print like an overweight beast, shedding excess weight. The result is a leaner, more defined, more beautiful experience. What we buy in print will be increasingly valuable as readers shift to the digital realm — and they are shifting so amazingly fast, it’s almost terrifying.
Print, for many types of information, will become far less important. It’s too slow for our world, too clunky for an increasing number of people. I read that a publisher is “crashing” a book on the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It’s due out in September. Given the volume of information already published and the way public interest flags, is this too long a delay? What will the book offer than other sources don’t? It’s the same relevance conundrum facing newsweeklies. Major newspapers will continue to see diminishing print runs, but this is mostly because the kind of information they provide is more easily consumed in the digital environment — it’s the old joke about reading yesterday’s news. Internet Guru Clay Shirky is giving newspapers fifty years. I think he is being generous. With the Internet and television combining forces, “news” becomes more immediate. Newspapers/news publications did a horrible job of anticipating the future. They did a horrible job of understanding their own strengths. This doesn’t mean news is no longer important. It’s that these organizations seemed to miss what made them critical in the first place. We don’t pay for the weather, we don’t pay for box scores (anymore), we don’t pay for day old breaking news. We don’t pay for print versions of stories that are changing by the hour. Of course, that leaves the world of analysis as the currency of journalism. The news is the easy part. Putting the information into context is valuable. It’s what is necessary to encourage people to pull out their credit cards (see above about vague punditry — it’s not what people want). In fact, analysis, context, synthesis are the future of information, and I worry that journalists have lost this talent. So print — cheap, disposable, ephemeral print — will become marginalized, probably faster than we realize. But also slower than the doom-and-gloom types believe. “Print” is not a small idea. We print all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons, and that isn’t going to come to a full stop. Until our robot overlords decree otherwise, we will be creating all sorts of printed materials. Most will not survive the day they’re created. This goes for books as much as newspapers and other time-limited information. Setting aside the cheap, throwaway print products, the future of print is valuable, beautiful, useful…quality. As I sit here, surrounded by print publications of all types, I see what I value. I read. A lot. I haven’t been precious about format in well over a decade. Or decades. I was the kid who read cereal boxes — sometimes the same box of Life over and over — if there were 52
not other words available. I want to read. What I find now is that I gravitate toward the format that best suits the type of reading I want or need to do at that moment. For fiction and narrative non-fiction, I am 100% digital. It kills me that I get so many ARCs in print — if it’s something I want to read, I’ll buy the digital version of a book a publisher sends me for free, just because I want to read in my preferred manner. Digital works for me on so many levels, particularly because I am aligned with the Evil Empire. They created a seamless purchasing and reading experience for me. So, print. I buy magazines in print. I haven’t warmed to the digital versions. I think magazine publishers are going out of their way to make the experience as unlikeable as possible. It’s not a feat to replicate the print edition in digital format, full page fidelity and all. What I — and it seems so many others — want is a magazine that takes advantage of the technology. Magazine publishers don’t seem to get that, or maybe they think we are happy with okay, good enough, sloppy. We’re not. Much of what I read in magazines is available for free on the web, but I find my relationship with the print content and the web content are different. I like to revisit them, to touch them, to buy the special issues . I want my digital magazines to give me that sort of joy — it is obvious that magazine publishers/app developers haven’t really thought much about the user experience of digital magazines, or, heck, the user experience of print magazines. Reading the articles is just part of what happens. There’s no telling what book might find a place in a permanent collection, but five seconds in a used bookstore (physical or digital) is enough to prove that much of what is printed isn’t valuable enough to remain a permanent part of most libraries. These are the type of books I believe we’ll see dying in print first. My theory is that readers will grow more and more intolerant of those books that have no real value, books that are worn out before they are unembargoed. And no point in pretending you can keep the best parts from leaking out. The future of print is not day-late print versions of last year’s news. Let’s be honest here: most of these print books are bought at deep discounts by consumers. The “value” assigned by purchasers is far less than the value assigned by the publisher. 53
I cannot predict when the shift from mostly print to mostly digital will happen. I suspect it will be like a patchwork quilt. Print becomes more valuable when it becomes less disposable. We will happily invest in quality because what we buy is something we want to preserve — and display — for a long time. I think we interact with different media in different ways. I’m not a smell of books person, but I am a tactile person. Different types of content demand different types of interaction. Print and digital are different experiences. It’s not good or bad or right or wrong. It’s what the book, the story within (be it fiction or non-fiction), requires. Some stories can be told in every format possible. Some must be purely digital. Some demand the pace of print. To me, the future of print is irrevocably tied to the consumer’s ability to acquire those books they deem valuable to them. What is important is that these print version be quality — good covers, excellent paper, binding that doesn’t fall apart. Handmade, one-of-a-kind, original, limited edition, personal. The shift to digital reading is taking place rapidly, and there will be a point in the not-too-distant future where we stop thinking either/or and embrace either/and.
the future of print is valuable, beautiful, usefulâ€Ś quality
In conclusion, I have no doubt in my mind that the design industry is changing for the better. New developments in mobile technology are making information instantly available to the masses but every cloud has a silver lining. This instantaneous information is freeing up the amount of mediocre, disposable design and information that goes to print. Does it really matter that in the future magazines like Grazia will only be available on an iPad? I don’t think so. In my opinion the shift from print to digital will allow for more emphasis to be placed on the quality of printed design work. This is summed up perfectly by the comment of Paul Pensom, Art Director at Creative Review, during his talk at Leeds College of Art last October ‘I’m optimistic that print will always have its place. It will become niche, collectable. Technology should always be seen as an opportunity. The mass market may migrate from print but what will ultimately be left will be fine quality, beautiful objects.’ I like the direction that printed matter and the print industry is going in. It remains to be seen quite how accurate this prediction will be, but as a graphic designer it is quite reassuring. Now I know that this seems very print orientated, but what I find most exciting is the context of the relationship between print and digital design. I have had a definite shift in my own thinking over recent months; I now want to get involved with the developments and technologies of contemporary graphic design; not only for my own employability within industry but as an essential part of my design expertise. I do not think it is possible to work in industry today ignorant to the digital discipline. I used to wish I’d become a designer 10 years ago when people bout CD’s and other printed consumables en masse but have come to realise that this will continue on a smaller scale to a more discerning, appreciative market. What really floats my boat now is the thought of where things are going, how people interact with design and how design will interact with them. I know I will be constantly learning and fine-tuning new skills for my entire career, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Many thanks to: Jon at KentLyons Nat at Airside Simon at Yes Scrub at Generaion Press