Print is Not Dead, She's Just Been Standing on a Street Corner

Being a graphic designer for over 23 years has allowed me to see our industry go from painful cutting and pasting on a drafting table to a simple “point and click” experience in the age of technology. What used to take me hours to do, now can be done in seconds.

For years, before we went to print something, we labored over special papers and colors. We spent hours at the printer waiting on press checks to make sure things were perfect. It was exhausting... and wonderful. I seriously miss those days. The hours of hand coloring comps so we could go to meetings and show the client “kind of what it will look” like. And when they didn’t get it we demanded that they just trust us! This time has passed. Now we’re cranking out designs in minutes, and where our final product lasted for a few years, now it’s here today and gone tomorrow.

What have we lost in this? I believe it’s the human touch. We’re tactile beings. We connect with our world through touching and tasting. The human experience yearns to “feel”. So in this virtual world we’ve created, what’s next for the graphic designer who yearns to make you “feel”? Who wants you to have a physical and emotional reaction to what we’ve designed...

I think the answer is still print. But not the boring, cheap imitation we’ve resorted to in recent years in order to convince our clients to do something. Online, gang printing has destroyed the craft. It’s taken a beautiful art form and brought it down to a substandard substitute. 

Print has to be more amazing than ever. We have to go above and beyond where we were, and yet go back to the art of it. Not back to the 1980’s but back to the 1880’s. Not back to the bloated budget and ridiculously over designed extravagance of the 80s. But back to a simpler time. Create a simple, one color, letterpress business card that so beautiful, you just can’t bear to throw it away. In this digital age, we need to be very selective in what we print. But in that one piece, we move those who see it to act, to buy to “feel” something more than just a passing glance.

This article moved me to get out of my stupor and go back to doing what I do best. Create something beautiful.