Commentary & Analysis
Print is Cool and Print is Back!
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: April 20, 2005
April 20, 2005 -- I just read Noel Ward's article "What Can we Do?" and had a couple of thoughts I wanted to share. The short story is I think we can do a lot! For the last five years or so, the fact that print is not cool affected me very personally. I teach at Parsons School of Design in New York. My department is Communications Design, what used to be called Graphic Design. My official title is Special Projects Manager, Parsons Communication Design Pub Center. So as you can imagine, for the last five years or so, the fact that print is not cool affected me very personally. Since I love print--having run a printing company for 30 years, and really love the history, culture and the product-- this was not a fun time. But just recently, I've been starting to use the message that print is back from the wasteland. Almost anything you can do on a website in terms of personalization, you can now do in print. There's no question that the internet is very cool, DVD's, movies, interactive games, etc., are pretty hard to beat. Especially when creatives and kids have access to the tools. But with digital print, I believe we're back in the game. Almost anything you can do on a website in terms of personalization, you can now do in print. Also with frictionless workflows, PDF, RGB based workflows, digital printing is almost as accessible as the web, at least to trained creatives. And the product is so much better. Have you ever met anyone who loves and collects websites, the way millions collect books and posters? What compares to the art and beauty of a physical object on wonderful paper that feels good in the hand? Just recently I had a couple of experiences that illustrate what I'm talking about: For our just finished senior exhibition students produced over 25 titles of single copy print runs of beautiful full-color case bound books, with embossing and dust jackets, at prices they could afford. Now that's cool! My class at Parsons is working with a vocational inner city high school in NYC. There, ninth graders produced artwork after the recent Asian tsunami. My design students took those artworks and within a week, produced a 32-page, full-color 5 x 8-inch catalogue for those students. Based on the reactions of kids who never thought about printing, it was undeniable that print has a transformative power on those who are blessed by being published, especially in a form that everyone sees at the same time--and that you can share with your mom. That is cool! What compares to the art and beauty of a physical object on wonderful paper that feels good in the hand? And just one more. I work with the Grow Network, now a division of McGraw Hill. We recently produced 65,000 fully customized workbooks for each student who failed the TAKS statewide test. The workbooks were based on the strengths and weaknesses revealed in the kid's test results. If they did badly on section 1 and 2, but great on 3 and 4, their workbook had remedial exercises for 1 and 2. The results were that a traditional 72% success rate, turned into an 85% success rate. Now that's the power of print, which is very, very cool. So, I think the message is that Print is cool and after a brief hiatus, print is back. Michael Josefowicz Special Projects Director Parsons Communication Design Publishing Center Communication Design Department Parsons School of Design