Identity – Research (Paper)

In my last blog post I discussed how I would only add in another section to my research if I felt one was valid, and I came across one. Paper.

A strong factor of a design is the paper used, as it adds an extra physical dimension to the design, after all if a design was printed on thin, cheap paper then what would that make you think about the designer/design company behind it? I certainly would not be too impressed, and would wonder if they knew what they were doing.

Now I have to admit to being confused in the past when it came to selecting paper, as there seems to be so many options and types. However, at the end of last year our Graphic Design group had a visit from GF Smith, where we all received many samples and were invited to an exhibition put on by them, Beauty in the Making, which I have to say was deeply impressive, and again, more samples were available. So this now gave me many samples from them to decide on for future projects. (As a side note, it is things like that which show how aware GF Smith are of their audience, they are also willing to help, an example being the samples accessible to our group in the past etc. which is great to see.)

Looking through the samples for this project, some small, some large, I came across their Mohawk environmental range of papers. Within that was Strathmore Writing Platinum White Wove paper which is available in different weights (and colours), most commonly 118gsm and 236gsm, that I think would be suitable for this project.

Why would I use that paper?

  • It is environmentally friendly, carbon neutral, which I feel is an important thing for a designer to consider in this era, where sustainability is a strong buzzword and with the fragility of the environment.
  • It is deemed to be “suitable especially for corporate communication/stationery work.” and I have no reason to doubt this after looking at the sample.
  • I think it has a high quality finish that would be suitable for use as my identity documents with a tactile feel that I think is desirable and would be appreciated by anyone who saw it.
  • It is available in different weights, which would benefit different styles of communication. I would want a thicker weight for a business card as it needs to be stronger, a thinner weight for a letterhead, documents such as CV’s and a compliment slip (118gsm) and a in-between weight for an envelope (236gsm)

Thinking about what can be achieved in the timeframe I have:

There is an issue however. I do not currently have this paper in my possession  as although I got a free sample of papers I chose last year, and I tried to get a wide varied source of paper types to cater for future projects, I obviously missed out on this one…

While I believe it will be a case of obtaining the paper I require from GF Smith in the future for my portfolio, that is no good for the deadline set for this project by the tutors for Friday. Therefore I will discuss this issue with my tutors to see if it is acceptable to use another type of paper for submission, then correct the issue for my portfolio, where I will ensure everything is spot on.

What else could be done depending on my designs?

Duplexing. Where two sides to something are different, either in colour, or finish, or both. This can allow for the best of both worlds if a design focuses say on two different approaches as one.

Embossing: This can create a very high quality feel to a business card, with the added depth that adds that extra visual dimension. Would not transfer over to letterheads etc. but that does not matter unless it is a critical design feature. Blind embossing is where it is does not need to be printed, and the blind depression works with the light to assert its visual difference. The embossed area can also be filled with foil.

Varnish: Gives part of a design a gloss and makes it stand out, due to the way the light hits the design and the disparity in texture. I have seen this done in a blind style for a Range Rover brochure where the front cover was purely black, with black varnish for the lettering ‘The Range Rover’. In my opinion, it looks fantastic, and made a very strong impression. After looking at it again, I can see it is ever so slightly embossed as well so as not to stand out from the surface of the cover.

Other: The below example features paper that changes colour depending on the light, here it is a deep, lustrous claret colour when exposed to light, but in some lights it is a very dark red, almost black. This dynamic approach keeps the audience interest in the product far more than a normal colour, as I found myself experimenting with different light levels to see what colour was produced.

What have I learnt from this research?

  • The importance of looking at paper physically. Interacting with a sample allows such as the ones provided by GF Smith allow for a thorough assessment that helps me to make a stronger, better informed decision.
  • Learning what styles of paper suit this project. Looking through the samples allows me to build up an idea of what I am looking for.
  • Being realistic in terms of designs. With the limited timeframe and printing capacity open to me, it will not be possible to go for features such as embossing etc. This is not an excuse however not to produce a good design, as I feel the ideas you will see soon can work, but more as a way of being realistic and designing to set criteria.

So that is an overview for my thoughts regarding paper for the project, and as you will be able to see when I document my ideas that will tie into everything I have discussed so far in my research from aesthetics, to type setting, to paper.