Print is not all about A4 brochures or postcard-sized 2D mailers – many print projects use unusual formats to add an extra dimension, and the results can have a great impact.
Eye-catching formats and finishes can be a hard sell, as clients baulk at extra costs, but, according to Al Baird, creative director at SAS Design, ’You can’t beat the tactile quality of well-designed and interestingly printed materials – it’s something to do with sense of touch, aesthetics and the craft involved.’
’It depends on clients’ priorities and comes down to choosing the best format to communicate with the audience,’ says Baird. ’Generally, we always try to create things that stand out. Making things that are distinctive and well-executed is fundamental to our beliefs. If the technique reinforces the idea we’ll always push for it. We are not into effects and gimmicks just for the sake of it.’
Despite being around for hundreds of years, print is a medium that still has the opportunity to create new ideas and break new ground with creative thinking, says Australia-based designer Vince Frost. ’Print – in its shapes, textures, colour, weight, smell and so on – connects through its carefully constructed aura.’
Sometimes, the simplest of format choices can have the greatest effect. ’As designers, if we can find a way of folding, binding or finishing a printed piece without necessarily adding to the cost, the end result will be greatly enhanced,’ says Scott Witham of Traffic Design.
Bastokalypse, a graphic novel by artist and graphic novelist MS Bastian and artist and graphic design Isabelle L, impressed all who saw it earlier this summer with its 13m-long, fold-out train of illustrations that perfectly evoked a Dante-esque journey through purgatory and hell.
Folding was also a key design element in the recent brochure for Greenspace Scotland, created by Traffic Design. The publication featured French folding, with A3 pages folded back on themselves and bound shut to create hidden pages.
Using different materials to convey a brand is also effective. Traffic’s work for the Ingliston Country Club includes a brochure featuring laser cutting into cherry pine with a single spot colour and leather spine.
Fashion brand Burberry’s invitation for this year’s autumn/winter Prorsum menswear fashion show, meanwhile, included a brass card inspired by the antique military look of a particular button from the collection. It was produced by a metal components manufacturer that specialises in decorative etchings, with the text acid-etched and set in a folder pack printed and embossed on the fashion brand’s exclusive Trench paper from GF Smith.
For a new brochure for Sainsbury’s graduate recruitment programme, SAS wanted to come up with something more authentic than the standard marketing materials distributed by other companies. The consultancy decided to fill the brochure with proof points to make the messages more believable, using seven different tipped-in printed artefacts. Wire-bound to give it a scrapbook feel, the brochure also had a foil-blocked cover. The complexity came from the tip-ins, says
Baird, which range from reproductions of magazine articles, newspaper clippings, in-store recipe cards and till receipts.
’Together with the tip-ins, we ended up printing on a total of eight different types of paper,’ adds Baird.
Frost was particularly persistent in achieving the right format for the catalogue for the Australian pavilion at the 2008 Venice architecture biennale.
’We wanted to create a book which, when opened, was round,’ he explains. ’We hunted the world over to find someone to print and trim this book.’ He ended up printing it at Beacon Press in the UK.
With so many print formats available, it’s not about considering them all. ’A sound knowledge does help, but it’s not essential,’ says Witham. ’Trial and error is the best way.’
’It’s great to know about all the techniques,’ agrees Frost. ’But often, the less you know, the better you will think laterally about new [methods] or ideas.’