Print will never die.
Digital assets depreciate the moment they go live. Printed assets live on as a memento.
Yes. The overwhelming majority of design jobs today are based in digital.
However, how many digital assets that inspired you have you saved over time? Any? Or are you like me? You constantly find new digital inspirations everyday. And every day those new inspirations bump out the old ones. Don't get me wrong, I'm not writing this in opposition to digital design. I work in the field. I love the endless limitations of digital work. But, for me, it's mostly unfulfilling.
Here's my perspective and why I even bring this topic up. Digital design is not a tangible thing. It essentially doesn't exist in the world, but rather in the invisible interworkings of the internet. You can't hold that design in your hands and view it from different angles. You can't run your fingers across it to feel it's texture. Its ink will never tint the tips of your fingers. So what? you may be asking. To answer that question I should give you some context behind my inspiration to write this post.
When I was a kid my father would always take me to car shows and specifically the SF Auto Show. At all of these events are(were) very tangible items. I didn't care so much for the cars at the time, but I would run around and collect all the vehicle brochures and promotional items. By the end of the evening, I would head home with a plastic bag full of all these print goodies. For some reason, I was connected to how the paper felt, how rich the imagery and the colors were. These are characteristics of print that disappear the moment they become illuminated by the screen of our computers. So as I grew up and technology flooded our lives, I fell into a career of doing just that. I have spent the majority of my working hours designing digital assets. There have been print deliverables along the way, but they mostly felt like afterthoughts in regards to the campaigns they supported. At no surprise to my fellow designers out there, the budget was never kind to printed deliverables.
Fast forward to fairly recently; I came across a website called Theory11. I fell in love with print all over again. What Theory11 does is they create custom decks of playing cards that use a wide range of print techniques. Each deck is blanketed in embosses, spot varnish, foils, deboss etc. It's design candy at its finest. Their success validates the heartbeat that print still has in this world. Something as simple as a deck of playing cards can invoke a feeling of nostalgia, a feeling of craftsmanship, and a world of inspiration. Their decks have triggered my inner design spirit to create my own playing cards. I felt my imagination expanding every moment I thought about it. What would the concept be? What colors would I use? What finishes? After a lengthy discovery & design process, I finally finished my first deck! The Angels of Burden playing cards by Galu Design now exists in this world. A few car show brochures one day and a random click on the Theory11 website 20+ years after, and here I am creating my very own deck of playing cards. Not a single digital file in my 10-year career inspires me nearly as much as this project.
This is only the beginning. I intend to dive deeper into the sea of playing cards, deeper into the print and production processes, and surface with an abundance of new and tangible creations. One day there will be a designer somewhere, sitting at their corporate office, tinkering with a deck of Galu playing cards. They will feel the texture of my creativity. They will be inspired by the details of the print finishes. Their fingers will be tinted with the Pantone color I went back and forth on for weeks.
Print is not dead. It simply asks more of you. It requires you to be present.
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