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The Allure of Paper

This post might alienate most web designers, so sorry about that.

Few things make print designers drool as much as a nice piece of paper. The smoothness� the texture� the color� the dot gain� the 98 brightness� coated, uncoated, matte, glossy, silk� fine, I’ll stop, you get the idea.

What makes you choose a certain paper? How do you decide? Price, quality, performance on press? Because of the overproduced promotions that can’t be matched by any realistic budget? By brand? French Papers, Smart Papers, Fox River, Sappi, Storaenso, Gilbert?

No matter why or how you choose paper there is no denying that it is one of best aspects of print design. And it will never be matched by any nice piece of HTML or Flash.

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PUBLISHED ON Feb.04.2003 BY Armin
Darrel’s comment is:

I like the pretty colors.

On Feb.04.2003 at 09:19 AM
Sam’s comment is:


Also, Julie Holcomb is one of the leading letterpress printers in the SF area (so I hear back here in civilization), and she also has her own brand of very delicious paper, made specially for letterpress.

I have say, I have yet to meet a paper swatchbook that made any damn sense. Sure they're nicely designed most of the time, but it's a freaking nightmare trying to find of the color you want comes in square-flap envelopes. What would Jakob Nielsen say?? The other promotions are pretty but basically useless.

On Feb.04.2003 at 09:46 AM
brook’s comment is:

i like designing for electronic media, but i will always love print for this very reason. i have boxes and boxes of paper that i have collected. i make sketchbooks and notebooks and just about anything i can with it. to me, the tactile experience is everything. in my projects i consider paper in the earliest planning phases, it should never be an afterthought, and it should always compliment the piece.

On Feb.04.2003 at 09:51 AM
pk’s comment is:

i always specify gilbert grades. i'm particularly infatuated with neutech—its bright white is perfect, ink holdout is perfection, the tooth has a perfect cool, slightly gritty touch that gives my work (usually crossed between electronic and printed media) a diffuclt-to-reach tactility so hard to find in other grades.

as a personal inkjet grade, it's also great for art-quality prints. you know, for those months when you're dirt poor and can't afford the odd birthday present.

On Feb.04.2003 at 12:04 PM
Armin’s comment is:

One of my favorites is French Paper, not all the lines, just Construction and the new Smart White. What I like about them is the texture and the colors, but mostly its the fact that I can get small quantities of envelopes or the paper itself via the web. We did our wedding invite on Construction with a silver ink, despite the printer's advice to not do so, and it looked great! The pic is a bit dark though.

We also letterpressed all our stationery (here at work) on Smart White and it was a great paper to work with.

Other ones I like are Mohawk Navajo and the Benefit line from Smart Papers.

>as a personal inkjet grade, it's also great for art-quality prints.

That's a good idea. I'm gonna get me some of that.

>What would Jakob Nielsen say?

That the navigation should be on the left.

On Feb.04.2003 at 01:32 PM
joy olivia’s comment is:

I second the Mohawk recommendation -- although we tend to use Superfine over Navajo. I also find Finch to be a great paper at a super price when working on less budget friendly projects.

On Feb.04.2003 at 01:54 PM
Michael S’s comment is:

Curious papers has some interesting grades if it suits the project.


On Feb.04.2003 at 08:44 PM
jon’s comment is:

I've had good success with Monadnock Astrolite PC100 - 97 brightness and 100% Post Consumer recycled. I used it on a standards manual for an environmental company (natch). I also used New Leaf's paper for their stationery system, and it was a very nice bright white for being recycled.

On Feb.04.2003 at 09:55 PM
joy olivia’s comment is:

Monadnock Astrolite is great BUT... before you spec it, note that it's pretty darn expensive and really shows its grain when printed -- which, if it isn't the effect you're going for -- can be not so good.

We used it for folders and postcards last fall, and the textured look wasn't what my boss wanted and she was very disappointed. On the flip side, though, I really liked the added look of texture and would consider to use it on a project for which that wouldn't be a problem. (FYI, our solution was to hit colors twice on the press to up the saturation if the grain showed up too much.)

On Feb.05.2003 at 07:40 AM
Christopher May’s comment is:

I predominantly design for electronic media. However that doesn't alienate me from appreciating the tactile environment of print.

Let me tell you, I drool over textures as much as I do over fonts.

...especially those sexy "Speak Up" cards that armin designed. letterpress printing - grrrrrrrrrr.

On Feb.05.2003 at 09:00 AM
Martin Jacobsen’s comment is:

Speak Up-cards?

What did I miss? That sounds nice...


On Feb.05.2003 at 09:18 AM
Armin’s comment is:

>Speak Up-cards?

What did I miss? That sounds nice...

Just a little something I was able to gang on a project. On a Strathmore 130 lb cover stock, letterpressed with dark gray and red. Very, to quote chris, "grrrrr". I'll take a picture tonight and put it up here. If anybody tells you that you can't print a pixel (or a square that is only 0.014 inches in size) in letterpress don't listen to them, it can be done. Just extending my baroque bitmapness to print ; )

On Feb.05.2003 at 09:36 AM
Martin Jacobsen’s comment is:

Sounds yummy.

Will you send me one if I pay the postage?


On Feb.05.2003 at 10:10 AM
Sam’s comment is:

armin, who's your letterpress printer?

On Feb.05.2003 at 12:41 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Rohner Letterpress. They are one of the few ones in Chicago. From what I know he gets jobs from all over the country. Jennifer Sterling uses them a lot. If you go to their place, all the job numbers are a "who's who" in the design community in Chicago.

On Feb.05.2003 at 12:48 PM
Jon’s comment is:

Peter Kruty Editions is a very good letterpress in Brooklyn.

On Feb.05.2003 at 01:28 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Thanks--always curious to know about the world west of the Hudson. Jon, I've heard of Kruty but never used him. I have used Soho Letterpress here, and Earl Kallemeyn is my favorite. He actually bounced up on his toes when I told him about buying Chinese metal type on Ebay. They're all freaks, those letterpress people, in a different way that the new media people are freaks, or us work-alone people are freaks.

Regarding paper, I've experienced the dual difficulty that arises when dealing with clients: they either don't care one bit about paper (or typefaces, or color, or trim size, etc), or they obsess about which smooth-finish sheet is actually smoother and drag me all over the place getting samples. "I think this one is definitely smoother" they'll say. Now ahm a trained perfessional deeziner and ah cain't tell no diffrunce, but somehow they can.

On Feb.05.2003 at 02:03 PM
jon’s comment is:

buying Chinese metal type on Ebay

I think you may have outbid me on this! It was so cool. Darn you! ;-) I've bought far too much type on ebay... If my wife only knew...

Soho Letterpress did my wedding invites a few years ago. I had a good experience, but I've heard from others who didn't.

On Feb.05.2003 at 02:24 PM
Christopher May’s comment is:

>> If my wife only knew...

hahaha!!!! I said that one way too many times.

There is a clothing shop (Great Stuff) on Queen West in Toronto that sells wood and metal type (I know - strange combo - type, shirts and socks?).

I've picked up some awesome type, not to mention some vintage printer's plates.

On Feb.05.2003 at 03:45 PM
ben’s comment is:

It's a good thing that I didn't know that when I was up at typecon, it may have bankrupt me. I always have to surpress the urge to search ebay for type, it gets costly quickly.

On paper, I love the Mohawk line also, along with the French Durotone and Construction lines. The gmund samples are worth buying. Has everyone seen the great Smart Paper ad with the guy who has "Can't Kern" taped to his back? Sadly I still get a chuckle out of that one.

On Feb.05.2003 at 06:42 PM
Armin’s comment is:

A quick picture (between The Bachelorette and the 9 o'clock news) of the Speak Up card.

On Feb.06.2003 at 08:48 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Jon, there was a guy selling Chinese newspaper type from San Francisco--it was maybe a year and a half ago. Great stuff. I was once bidding against Chank for a specimen book, until I found out it was him and felt guilty and pulled out.

Nice card, Armin--can I get it in a sticker?

On Feb.06.2003 at 09:08 AM