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Part 6 of The Paper Cuts SeriesThe Standard 4 and A Field Guide to Folding

Though the design industry has changed in many ways just since the 90’s, printing is still a thriving and vibrant source for connecting with consumers, and paper is the key. For this series, I’ve interviewed some of the best printers, paper reps, and designers to give their insights into how paper can strengthen your brand.

If you attended the HOW Conference in Denver last year then you may be familiar with Trish Witkowski from her packed session which launched “The Standard 4” from Sappi. In case you aren’t familiar, she’s all about folding. Prepare to have your mind folded in ways that you never thought possible.

Tell us a little bit about your background

I did my undergraduate work in graphic design, and worked full-time as a designer while I went for my master’s degree in printing from RIT. In studying design and print, I started to see the gaps in the resources available to the industry — resources that help the communication process between designers and printers. At the time, I had to come up with a thesis project, and one of the most nagging problems I was dealing with in my day job was the inconsistency of answers from printers with regard to what different folds were called (ex: accordion, z-fold, zig-zag, back and forth) and also how to set them up properly. So, I decided to research the topic. I defended an early version of what was to become my book FOLD: The Professional’s Guide to Folding to complete my degree, but spent another 5 years or so after that completing the research. That research in the book became the FOLDRite System, which is now a patented folding system that we use as a foundation for software that builds dynamic custom templates for folded materials. We launched foldfactory in 2002, but it was more of a proof of concept/demo site at the time. It has really been in the last 2-3 years that we have worked very hard to build the community and the video library and resources.

What first drew you to paper and specifically folding?

It’s amazing how a problem or minor interest can turn into passion. I really just wanted some definitive answers about nomenclature and file setup, and it’s become my full-time job, and something I really enjoy. I decided that if there was no resource for folding, I would build it myself. I’ve always seen the value in it, and I think others have started to see it, too.

How has the use of paper and folding changed over the course of your career, and what’s affected that role the most?

I think the technology of folding has improved, so we can do more, and produce it more efficiently. But I also think digital print and direct mail has had a huge impact on what people are doing — but these technologies provide an opportunity to do more and to get greater response from it. Variable data, PURLs, QR codes, all offer ways to enhance print and to create a two-way communication with an audience. Folding is a part of the process, but should be seen as a tool in the toolbox. A cool fold means nothing if the recipient doesn’t get the message and act on it. There should be careful thought and consideration for how the content is revealed and presented, and the fold can help or hinder that process.

Can paper define a brand? Can folding?

Hmmm… I’m going to say no. I think independently they would be limiting. If you decided that one fold was yours and all you’d ever do for any of your materials as your “signature” fold, I think that would be missing the point. Your information changes, and the folding style may need to change to best present that content. Paper might be a characteristic that would be part of a brand — if you always used a certain paper that is distinguishable, but I would say that if you always chose a quality paper, that would help define your brand, rather than a specific sheet. Paper colors and finishes can also come and go with trends, so I wouldn’t want to commit to one sheet and date myself. There’s also a necessary element of surprise in marketing — keep doing the same things and presenting them in the same way and your audience gets bored. Change the fold and the paper to keep things fresh.

Tell us a bit about the FOLDRite™ Template Master Software plug-in for InDesign.

FOLDRite™ Template Master is a plug-in for Adobe InDesign CS3 and CS4 (CS5 coming soon). It provides users with a quick and easy way to choose a folding style, customize it to their specific needs, and build production-ready InDesign folding templates instantly. Gate folds, roll folds, tri-folds, you name it. Template Master is the only dynamic, custom digital folding template creator for graphic arts professionals. With 85 folding styles to choose from, FOLDRite™ templates are mathematically adjusted for the folding process using industry-approved settings, and come complete with fold marks and panel cues in the slug area. Flash animated folding illustrations, the option to save presets, and useful educational information about each folding style helps designers to visualize, to stay on schedule, and on budget. You can get it at

How soon should you talk to your printer and paper rep during a project cycle? What are the advantages to collaborating with both?

Talk to them early. They are part of the team — and should be considered as such. Remember that you have to rely on the expertise of others to truly get the best result. A paper rep can help recommend a sheet that will perform well, or price well and perform well, and can give you weight recommendations, paper dummies, and possibly introduce a few sheets you haven’t considered. Your printer and bindery can guide you into proper file setup, sizing and production issues, and can save you from design decisions that could make the job more difficult or expensive to produce, or on the flip side, they can help you push the limits of the medium and do something really exciting. They’ve done a lot of projects and techniques you haven’t seen, and they may have some ideas that could make your design even better.

What are some the latest folding trends designers/agencies are using?

I’m seeing a surge in interest in proprietary solutions. There’s some amazing patented and branded solutions that are available — Zcard, Popout Branding, solutions from Structural Graphics, SmartMail, there are too many to list. These types of companies can offer high impact solutions in a tidy package for direct mail. I’m also finding that there is a world of folding solutions that no one has seen before, but once they see them, they want to use them the potential is there. For the Sappi road show I’ve been on recently, Sappi chose to do a Twist Fold (see photo), and the response has been amazing. All sorts of requests and inquiries about that fold. So, I see a trend coming where people are starting to explore new things.

Sappi Road Tour Twist Fold

What’s one of the most innovative folds you’ve seen?

I love all my folds, they’re my babies, but if I have to call out an innovative solution, I’ll pick the Book Cube from Structural Graphics. It’s a direct mail solution that offers an exploding dimensional cube that flies in the air when you open it. Whenever I pass that around, it gets a huge response. Direct mail is all about response, memorability, and making a connection with the recipient.

Where do you get the samples for your “60-Second Super Cool Fold of the Week.” and how many different shirts do you have? (My favorite is “Are You Going To Fold That?”)

I’ve been collecting for a long time, so I have a huge sample library, but people send me folds from all over the world, which is really fun. Everyone thinks I’m going to run out of cool stuff to show, but I’m really just getting started. I just did my 77th Fold of the Week segment, and I create a new shirt for each episode. I keep thinking I’ll run out of ideas, but those keep coming, too.

By the way, we just launched a Folded Inspiration design competition — we’re looking for the best in folded solutions for print. 11 categories, prizes, and a chance to get into the Folded Inspiration book at the end. It’s cheap to enter, and it’s all for a good cause. To learn more and to enter:

In what ways does paper choice effect you’re folding options?

Paper choice is everything when it comes to folding. Some folds are more sculptural, requiring a stiff sheet, and if a sheet that is too light is chosen, it becomes a floppy mess. You can choose a weight that is too heavy and get wrinkles in the corner joints of the folds and other stress-related issues. I could actually write a pretty long response about this, because there are so many reasons why paper affects the quality of the fold — weight, paper grain direction, the overall experience, etc. There’s a lot to consider.

Which paper stock would you be and why?

I think I’d be Curious Papers — for two reasons. The name — I’m always asking questions and doing research to try to get to the bottom of things and provide resources for myself and for the industry. Secondly, because they’re tactile and colorful and a little bit showy. Unconventional. I’m a strange bird — bookwormish much of the time, but I also like an audience.

If print is dead, why was your session at The HOW Conference in June, so packed? Did I attend the session with zombie designers?

haha! I know — it was a great crowd. When I first entered that huge room I was a little bit worried — we had no idea if anyone was going to show up, and then they started coming, and they didn’t stop. We were almost at standing room. I think the other thing to note that night was that out of almost 700 people, nobody left. Somebody ALWAYS leaves. They were engaged and it felt magical. I find that the content is really fresh for people. There’s a lot of talk about branding, logo design, web design, etc., but folding is a new topic for people, and once they realize that they have options, it’s like a new world of creativity opens up. They’re bringing me back for 2011, so I hope to see you there!

foldfactory logoIf you’d like to find out more about Trish or Fold Factory visit Signup to receive “The 60 Second Supercool Fold of the Week,” for a weekly dose of folding inspiration. Be sure to follow Trish on twitter @foldingfanatic, and become fans on facebook of Fold Factory. Finally, don’t forget to pick up a copy of “The Standard 4” from Sappi to learn the real names of the folds you love to use.

Like what you see feel free to email me at and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve helped clients add a touchy, feely side to their brands with paper.

Part 5 of The Paper Cuts Series

Neenah Paper BooksThough the design industry has changed in many ways just since the 90’s, printing is still a thriving and vibrant source for connecting with consumers, and paper is the key. For this series, I’ve interviewed some of the best printers, paper reps, and designers to give their insights into how paper can strengthen your brand.

I had an opportunity to talk with Jamie Saunders one of the most influential people in social media and the Marketing Communications Manager for Neenah Paper. She has mastered the art of promoting an analog product in a wholly digital medium. Her love of paper shows, and she let us tap into her wealth of knowledge to share with you.

Give us a little bit of background about yourself.

I am a wife of 9 years, mother of one beautiful little boy and a graduate of University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). I have been with Neenah Paper for almost 5 years. As Marketing Communications Manager I am responsible for all internal and external communications for our Fine Paper division. I coordinate press releases, blog releases (which Matt Porter, our extremely talented independent writer pens), I am the voice of Neenah Paper’s Twitter and Facebook pages, our Paperworks contest coordinator and more! It’s busy but it’s a lot of fun!

What first drew (bad pun, I know) you to paper?

I have seriously always loved paper. My first obsession as a little girl was making sure that my presents stood out under the Christmas tree. I would make my mom take me to a fancy wrapping paper store and I would spend my allowance on fancy wrapping paper and bows for my gifts. I even made my own gift cards…So you could say, it started with Christmas and then eventually took over the rest of my life! In my day-to-day life, I try to write a note per day even if it’s just to my 5 year old son to say hi. There is nothing more special or heartwarming to me than a handwritten note.

How has the way you promote new Neenah products changed over your career, and what’s affected it the most? (internet, sustainability, on-demand digital printing, economic slowdown, “The Office”, etc.)

That’s an interesting question because so many of the things that you mentioned have changed the way that we, and others, think about paper. Certainly the surge of technology has affected our industry but we find ways to embrace technology in order to talk more about paper. The environment is a topic that is always hot. Neenah continues to develop and adopt new technologies in a commitment to produce our products in the most environmentally and technically advanced ways that are available. We just reached zero landfill at our mills — meaning any scrap or waste paper is recycled or used in a waste-to-energy program. How cool is that?

Social media seems to play a major part in Neenah’s marketing efforts. How do you go about selling a product that involves touch in a medium that doesn’t allow that kind interaction?

We originally adopted our social media program on a trial basis. We wanted to be the first paper company to use social media and we achieved that goal. It was rough at first because like you said, it involves a bit of touch to choose a paper but we knew that this is where our customers “live”. We had to be there. We found that you could talk about paper and make it fun, giving away promotions as prizes puts the pieces right into the hands of so many who may not receive it otherwise. I get to help people make decisions about what paper to use for a project. With our new website I am able to direct them to tools Neenah developed for our customers so they can work smarter and get what they need to get their project done. It’s been wonderful connecting with so many people who still have a love for paper!

In what ways can paper be used to define a brand, and can you think of a great example?

We believe strongly that premium companies choose premium paper products for their brands. We’re seeing our packaging line really taking off right now. Having a great looking business card, holiday card or annual report should be very important to a company’s image. We’re seeing a variety of papers for all types of applications ranging from linen textures to hand crafted aesthetic feel to matching their corporate colors. It wouldn’t be fair to pick one example, there are so many beautiful brands out there using premium papers to enhance the look of their products.

What’s the largest area of growth in the paper industry?

With the improved technology of digital printing, we’ve expanded our digital line of papers. Our new digital line up comprises papers from 12 premium brands in a wide range of colors, textures, and weights. To be specific, 29 colors, 13 textures and 12 weights. Most papers are available in five common digital sizes too. So many great things coming down the pipeline.

What are some common myths about paper that keep agencies/designers from specifying paper on print projects?

I’m not sure about myths but I would say that picking the paper as early on in the design process as possible, will really make your design pop upon completion. Paper choice is so much more important than some may realize. Using a beautiful paper can only enhance your project (and make your design look even better than you imagined!). We’re here to make you look good!

Neenah Paper 110% Promo CoverWhat’s the most amazing piece you’ve seen printed on Neenah Paper in the last year?

I think the most amazing piece I have seen printed on Neenah Paper in 2010 is the CLASSIC CREST 110% promotion designed by And Partners NY and printed at Hemlock Printers Ltd. It’s all about seeing solid ink on paper and I think it’s by far the most unique piece that I’ve seen in the market this year. The coverage will absolutely blow you away!

Tell me a little bit about Against the Grain, the Neenah Paper Blog.

We started the blog in June of 2009 so Matt Porter (mentioned above, our creative writer extraordinaire) could cover the HOW Conference 2009 in a thoughtful way.  He has such a beautiful writing style and a way with words.  While his writing was exceptional, we realized that we needed a more robust site to house it, one that really reflected Neenah Paper’s style. With our social media platform expanding every day, Rule29 understood that we needed a place to give our customers an experience that they could control. After a conversation with Justin Ahrens, of Rule29 we knew they understood our vision and we were not disappointed by the result. Love, love, love our new blog site!

How can someone find out about the line of papers that Neenah Paper offers?

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and be sure to visit our website

I know this is like asking a designer to pick a favorite color or font, but what’s your personal favorite paper stock and why?

I would have to say CLASSIC CREST. It prints so beautifully every time for any type of project. I think the name CLASSIC fits the brand so well.

I would consider myself anything from the French Paper line, because it’s more utilitarian, unassuming and a little rough around the edges. Which paper stock would you be and why?

I have to pick one and you picked a whole line!  That’s a great question, I think CLASSIC Linen Papers are probably my best fit with their tag line “Sensible Luxury”. I love fashion and I feel like everyone should try to look their best everyday but you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it! Mixing in the fancy pearl papers with standards makes for a finished product that you can’t help but love.

HOW (pun intended) do you continue to throw such great parties at the HOW conference year after year?

I have to give props here to Tom Wright, our Sr. Director of Advertising and Promotions and Kristin Carpenter, our Design Manager for the work they do on the HOW Conference. I, like you, am just a lucky participant in all of the good fun.

Neenah Paper LogoIf you’d like to find out more about Neenah Paper visit their newly revamped site The site is not only a great resource for all of the Neenah Paper lines, but it also has lots of helpful tools, dielines and apps to make the process from concept to completion much easier. Be sure to follow Jamie on twitter @NeenahPaper, and become fans on facebook of NeenahPaper. For the latest paper and design articles check out their blog Against the Grain.

Check back next month when we talk folding with Trish Witkowski of Fold Factory for Part 6 in The Paper Cuts Series.

Like what you see feel free to email me at and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve helped clients add a touchy, feely side to their brands with paper.

Part 4 of The Paper Cuts Series

Though the design industry has changed in many ways just since the 90’s, printing is still a thriving and vibrant source for connecting with consumers, and paper is the key. For this series, I’ve interviewed some of the best printers, paper reps, and designers to give their insights into how paper can strengthen your brand.

Rick Dobbs, yes we’re related, of Unreal shares his paper experience as a packaging designer and sheds some light on how important paper selection can be for product packaging. So, crack open a cold one (Lazy Magnolia if you got it) and learn how to think about the box.

Give us a little background about yourself.

I’ve been a “professional” designer for ten years. My first job was a designer in advertising at MGM-Mirage’s Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. I left Beau Rivage as an art director after almost five years there to take a designer/art director spot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the design firm Xdesign. After two years at Xdesign I made the leap to go solo with Unreal. That was in October of 2006 so Unreal is almost four years old.

What first drew you to graphic design and specifically packaging?

I was a fine art major (painting) and got to talking to some design students in one of my painting classes. The concept of “commercial” art as a career while at the same time being able to paint on the side sounded very appealing — although I rarely am able to find the time to paint these days.

The packaging industry was not an intentional target at first for Unreal. After landing my brewery client, Lazy Magnolia, the other packaging work began to fall in my lap.

How do you use your printer and paper rep in the development of a packaging project?

We are wrapping up a direct mail packaging project for a large industrial client of mine at the moment. My printer and finisher have been most essential every step of the way in planning and execution — from stock and process recommendations to box construction and coatings.

My beverage packaging projects do not really require much dialogue with printers and paper reps on the front end. This being because label and carrier stock and processes are almost universal. I design to either CMYK or spot specs within the chosen vendor die templates and we are good to go.

How does paper impact your design process?

Paper impacts my design process from the very start. Color field and imagery selection depends heavily on whether or not you will be using coated or uncoated stock, cover or text weight.

The tactile integrity of stock is also essential. First impressions when someone touches or holds a piece are key.

How has the way you spec paper for print projects changed over the years?

It’s a weeding out process. Over the years I’ve developed a “go to” list of papers for certain uses. I like to use stock that I’m comfortable with and know what to expect when it comes to holding color, scoring/folding and tactile quality.

Can you think of a project where the paper stock has defined the project or increased the overall impact, and how so?

We just wrapped up a client’s large, coffee table, photography book. It would have been so easy to use cheaper, thinner stock and save tons of money on production. We opted to use nicer, heavier stock with great tactile characteristics. In addition to the nicer stock we added a spot varnish to the photographs. A cheaper paper would not have been able to hold the varnish as well. The paper and varnish combination make the photos pop off the page. I wouldn’t say the paper selection defined the project, but it definitely pushed it over the top.

Can paper be used to define a brand, and in what way?

I’m not really sure if paper can define a brand, but believe that great branding in concert with smart stock selection can be very impactful.

Have you seen a case where a paper choice hindered the effectiveness of a package design, and in what way?

Most definitely. Everyone has seen incidents where oils in in the product leak through and leave spots on the package. This is the result of poor stock selection and not specifying the proper coatings.

I’ve also seen cases (field observations) where cheaper beer labels peel off sooner than others under heavy condensation. If you are going to use paper labels I recommend laminating or coating them, but vinyl is the way to go in my opinion.

What has been your best use of paper in one of your packaging projects to date?

Our upcoming industrial client’s direct mail packaging is going to be super nice. It is a collaborative effort between the client, printer, finisher and Unreal. The combination of construction, paper, printing, coatings and design make it a one-of-a-kind piece.

In what ways has your role changed as a designer with online digital printing, sustainability efforts and the economy?

I have a few clients who when they see offset printing estimates tend to say, “Well, we can get these done online for a third of that price”. It is a hand-holding and educational process for the client, and it is my responsibility to guide them through. You have to explain the pros and cons off offset vs. digital, and also the drawbacks of cheap, online, digital stock.

I try to stay as involved as possible from concept to production with all of my clients’ projects.

What’s your favorite paper stock and why?

I’ve always liked Cougar Opaque and Classic Crest. They both have weights, finishes and color variations for every occasion — not to mention their scoring and folding qualities. I’ve had nothing, but good experiences with them and they are both at the top of my “go to” list.

Which paper stock would you be and why?

I would consider myself anything from the Curious line because they are weird, high-quality, expensive — nah, I’m kidding.

I think I would be Cougar. It’s a versatile and reliable line that has multiple uses and variations.

Letterpress or silkscreening?

I like them both and there are definitely fitting uses for each of them.

I have not been able to use letterpress yet, but will be on my upcoming, new business cards. The history of letterpress is also intriguing and important to the creative and printing industry.

My experience with silkscreening is limited, but am looking forward to utilizing it on a client’s upcoming event posters. Silkscreening is something I’d like to learn more about and eventually get some hands on time with.

If you’d like to find out more about Rick Dobbs and Unreal visit Be sure to become fans on facebook of Unreal.

Check back next month when we talk to Neenah Paper superstar Jamie Saunders for Part 5 in The Paper Cuts Series.

Like what you see feel free to email me at and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve helped clients add a touchy, feely side to their brands with paper.

Part 3 of The Paper Cuts Series

LogoMotives LogosThough the design industry has changed in many ways just since the 90’s, printing is still a thriving and vibrant source for connecting with consumers, and paper is the key. For this series, I’ve interviewed some of the best printers, paper reps, and designers to give their insights into how paper can strengthen your brand.

Jeff Fisher of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives has been designing logos and  corporate identities for three decades, and he’s witnessed the changes that design and more specifically paper have gone through, all the while maintaining a focus on print as a predominant part of brand identity. Jeff has seen it all, and done it all when it comes to graphic design, and he was nice enough to share a bit of his experience.

Give us a little background about yourself.

My career as a professional designer began in 1978 as the graphic designer for the advertising department of the daily college newspaper at the the University of Oregon, where I was a design student within the School of Journalism. In an economic climate much like today, when I got out of school there were few full-time design jobs to be had. Informational interviews with the principals of advertising agencies and design firms soon led to a lot of independent work coming my way. Eventually, one of my clients offered me an opportunity to join them in-house to create and lead a new design department. In addition, I was the art director for the group of medical publications. My next position was as art director for a Portland advertising agency. Following a move to Seattle, was I hired as the creative director for a clothing manufacturer. Each previous position gave me the experience necessary to go out on my own in 1987. However, it wasn’t until 1997 that I officially adopted the business name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, and began focusing on identity design and branding.

In the last ten years I have found myself writing about design a great deal through blogs, design sites, and industry magazines such as HOW. I’ve also written three books on design topics: ‘The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career’ (HOW Books, 2004, re-released as PDF on CD, 2009), ‘Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands’ (HOW Books, 2007) and the upcoming ‘Logo Type: 200 Best Typographic Logos from Around the World Explained’ (HOW Books). Other books are in the works.

I’ve also been speaking and teaching about design, social networking and small business marketing for almost a decade. I often make presentations at design schools, universities, design conferences, AIGA chapters and business organization events. For a week this past June, I taught at the © CEDIM design and innovation college in Monterrey Mexico, something I would enjoy doing much more. In addition, I’m a member of the HOW Magazine Board of Advisors, HOW Design Conference Advisory Council and the Art Institute of Portland Advisory Council.

What first drew you to graphic design?

From the time I was five or six years old I was obsessed with art – and always told people that I was “going to be an artist when I grow up.” Of course, everyone discouraged me and told me I would never be able to make a living as an artist. Art teachers in junior and senior high took notice of my talents and abilities and gave me a great deal of encouragement to continue. In fact, after complaining that one of my high school art instructors had told me that I “wasn’t doing my painting right,” I was the first student put on independent study in art in my school district and my advisor, art teacher Ken Collins, had a huge impact in my determination to have a career in the arts. While a senior in high school in 1974, I came across the new book “Graphic Design,” by Milton Glaser, at my local public library. It gave a name to what I wanted to do and showed that someone could have a successful career in such work.

I began my formal graphic design education in the Fine Arts department at the University or Oregon in 1974. Frustration with the program led me to consider quitting school completely. It was suggested that I speak with professor Roy Paul Nelson, the author of well-known books on the design of advertising and publications, who taught in the UO Journalism School. In our first meeting he told me, “Get the hell out of the Fine Arts program and into the Journalism School where you can learn some marketable skills.” To be able to take classes in typography, advertising design, publication design and cartooning I was required to take all the journalism course work. All that I learned in the program still serves me well today. My junior year in college I started working professionally as a designer.

How does paper impact your design process?

I will often have specific papers, or a paper line, in mind throughout the design process. Colors, textures and other paper attributes are usually in my thoughts as I design an identity and consider possible colors and applications for the design. Often the desire for a specific paper color or texture will determine the paper to be used. I’ve appreciated situations where paper reps, or paper houses, have provided sample stocks – and even constructed mock-ups of some projects – allowing me to determine if my design and printing concept is evidence that I am completely out of my mind.

How has the way you spec paper for print projects changed over the years?

Early in my career I would spend a great deal of time in the paper samples rooms of local paper companies seeking out just the right paper for a given project. Later, paper reps would make sure I had complete sets of their paper swatch books. I always enjoyed getting together with them, over a cup of coffee or cocktail, to update my swatch sets. In recent years, I usually request samples of specific papers from the print house producing the final product. Much of my research of paper stock these days is done online, at conferences or by way of those annoying paper stock inserts in design magazines.

Can you think of a project where the paper stock has defined the project or increased the overall impact, and how so?

Barrett Rudich Photographer StationerySelection of a specific paper can greatly impact the success of a designed project. Years ago I worked with a photographer who wanted an extremely unique card. Much of his photography work was black and white, and we ended up discussing a card that would be black on black. It was important to find a heavily textured black paper stock (I don’t remember the specific paper now) that would be almost completely smooth when the photographer’s name, title and phone number were blind embossed. A black foil was used to make the text info on the card “pop” even more. The card was also cut 1/4 inch shorter than a traditional business card; giving the illusion that it was a much different size than normal. It was necessary to work closely with the print house to “test drive” a few paper stocks to get the desired result and give the business card the impact wanted by the client. The card was very successful for the client and appears in several design books. To complete his stationery package, the photographer’s name was imprinted in black foil on a bright white letterhead sheet and envelope.

Can paper be used to define a brand, and in what way?

The texture, content, weight or color of a paper can be an important design element for a brand – just as important as color, type treatment, and actual design elements. How the paper stock is used in branding a business, product or organization can have a major impact on how that brand is perceived by the target audience.

Have you seen a case where a paper choice hindered the effectiveness of a printed piece, and in what way?

I have seen many cases of the wrong paper, or improper ink color, being used for specific project. Some heavy paper textures are not appropriate for the even ink coverage wanted. Ink sometimes soaks into paper stocks, muting the desired impact of a printed piece. I’ve seen nightmare situations where the paper cracked when folded after printing, resulting in an end product being rejected by the client. I know of cases in which designers didn’t take paper weights into consideration and caused postage costs to be much more than budgeted or anticipated.

What has been your proudest use of paper in one of your projects to date?

One of my favorite, and proudest, design moments occurred over a period of six months in 1992 when I was contracted to create the identity for The Governor Hotel in Portland, OR. It was quite an undertaking for a one-person design firm. I was responsible for creating the identity for the hotel and restaurant, and then applying the identities to all branding devices from signage to menus. The client initially looked at me like I was crazy when I proposed printing various project elements on totally different paper stocks. Papers from different mills – with varied textures, colors and weights – were used in producing various brand elements, creating a unique paper family for the hotel. The stocks included laid, linen, vellum and coated finishes, parchments, metallics and others. I designed every piece of printed material for the hotel including a stationery package, computer papers for the reservations office, brochures, a commemorative poster, direct mail pieces, stickers, coasters, grand opening invitations and much more. Many of the pieces were printed on recycled stocks, a bit more difficult to find nearly two decades ago.

The Governor Hotel Identity System 1

Unfortunately, there was a great waste of paper in the process of having items printed for the hotel. For all elements of the project I suggested earth tone ink colors. The interior designer of the hotel butted into the project and recommend a much bright color selection. I did my best to discourage the hotel management, but they went with the brighter palette in the initial printing of 10,000 of all pieces. When the printed materials were delivered, the hotel general manager opened the first box and exclaimed, “Oh my God, it’s the Taco Bell hotel.” The ink selected by the interior designer printed a much brighter orange than she ever expected. All printed materials were scrapped and the entire project was reprinted in the colors I had originally speced. Much of the earlier printing was salvaged where possible to create half-sheets and notepads.

The Governor Hotel Identity System 2My printing rep, Tom Switzer, was instrumental in keeping me sane (and the client happy) during the months of the project. I still work with him as a printing rep 18 years later.

In what way do you collaborate with your printer or paper rep during the design process?

As a one-person design firm, over the years it has always been necessary to create a personal team of collaborators – often including print and paper representatives – to successfully initiate and complete a project. I have paper and printing reps that I’ve worked with for almost 20 years. From the beginning of my career, over 30 years ago, I have almost always made contact with my printing rep and the print house production staff a priority early in the project. I’ve never been one to finalize a design and then drop some production nightmare on my chosen printer. For me it’s always been important to share my concepts with the print house and learn how I can make the process, from design through printing, smooth for all involved.

Having worked professionally as a designer for 13 years prior to a computer appearing on my desk, I developed a very hands-on approach in working with printers and learned a great deal about the printing process. My participation in the process continued when I was able to hand projects over to the printer on disks. Throughout my career incredible relationships developed with print reps when we would be meeting at all hours for press checks for major projects. I’ve spent quite a few hours sleeping on couches in the lobby of print houses waiting for a specific project to go on press. In the two years that I designed all marketing pieces for the Seattle Seahawks professional football team, my printing rep Julie Beaver and I became great friends. All projects, printed in six colors to ensure NFL logo colors and with runs of up to one million pieces, required personal press checks.

Over the years, my paper reps have always been very helpful in providing samples, creating mock-ups of folded pieces and making sure that the stock desired is available. Often that meant the rep was responsible for tracking down examples of a specific paper and hand-delivering samples to my home-based studio to meet a client demand or deadline.

In what ways has your role changed as a designer with online digital printing, sustainability efforts and the economy?

With online digital printing, I do still need to babysit – or lead – the client through the process. I still make paper and printing method recommendations. I don’t like to completely step out of the process of a project until the final product is delivered to the client and meets their satisfaction. I appreciate that many of my clients feel much more comfortable being involved in the digital printing process, than the traditional processes of getting projects produced.

What’s your favorite paper stock and why?

I’ve always been a fan of ESSE – and have only been able to use it on client projects a couple times. I love the watermarked grid of squares in the stock. It’s one of those papers that needs to be particularly appropriate for the specific project to really pull off the desired effect. Your question made me realize that I’m a long-time champion of many Neenah papers. In the past 30 years, I’ve recommended that many clients use papers such as Classic Columns, Classic Crest, Classic Laid, Classic Linen and others in printing their stationery packages.

I would consider myself anything from the French Paper line, because it’s more utilitarian, unassuming and a little rough around the edges. Which paper stock would you be and why?

I also am a fan of French Papers, but if I need to be a specific stock I don’t want to copy you. I suppose it would be the Eames line from Neenah Paper. There’s an ability to convey sophistication or be a bit more pedestrian. The color palette, variety of finishes, patterns and weights, and the way the paper invites closer inspection by those coming into contact with it all seem to convey various aspects of my personality.

Is print dead or just playing dead?

If dead, I think someone forgot to make print aware of the fact. I think it’s funny, and telling, that David Carson’s book, “The End of Print,” is in something like its fifth printing. Print has not died – it is just constantly evolving.

Jeff Fisher LogoMotivesIf you’d like to find out more about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives visit Be sure to follow Jeff on twitter @LogoMotives, and become fans on facebook of LogoMotives. For the latest on upcoming design books and helpful articles on business and graphic design check out bLog-oMotives.

Check back next month when we talk packaging with a New Orleans graphic design firm for Part 4 in The Paper Cuts Series.

Like what you see feel free to email me at and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve helped clients add a touchy, feely side to their brands with paper.

Part 2 of The Paper Cuts Series

Color Swatches

Though the design industry has changed in many ways just since the 90’s, printing is still a thriving and vibrant source for connecting with consumers, and paper is the key. For this series, I’ve interviewed some of the best printers, paper reps, and designers to give their insights into how paper can strengthen your brand.

The latest interview features John Cockrell, Jr. the owner of Enovation Group and Fresh Press, two exciting new concepts in digital and on-demand printing. John grew up in the printing business, but his journey outside the industry has armed him with a wealth of knowledge to put his own mark on more than just paper. His eagle-eye focus on precision drives his unique approach to printing, paper and the future of both.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

Technically, I’ve been in the printing industry for 30 years if you include dinner table discussions and summers in the bindery. Directly, I’ve been involved in the industry for 8 years. Enovation Group was launched in 2003 as a digital printing company focused on combining print and technology to meet the needs of an on-demand marketplace. At first, we were going to take over the world with variable data printing, but over time we realized our core expertise involved creating workflows that made printing easier for marketers and HR departments. I’m obsessed with trying to make printing a job on our digital presses as easy as printing to a network printer. We’re getting closer every year.

What first drew you to printing?

I avoided printing for the first 22 years of my life, which worked out well because it gave me time to explore a few different industries. Once I committed to working in the industry full-time, I was intrigued by the ability to combine creativity, business acumen and craftsmanship. It really ended up being a perfect fit. I would be miserable in an industry that didn’t allow for a creative outlet.

Do you prefer working with a designer and paper rep in the early stages of project development?

Earlier is always better, regardless of the involved parties. We don’t always have that luxury with digital printing — so many projects are last-minute and rushed. It’s a fun process to be able to collaborate with multiple people in order to create exactly what a designer envisions. Seeing a concept come to life is very gratifying and truly represents the craft. Plus, it usually ensures a better finished product.

Do you keep papers stocked in-house?

In digital printing, it’s necessary. Offset usually allows for the luxury of ordering paper just-in-time, but digital forces people to print a majority of projects on house sheets. We carry Neenah Environment (Smooth – Ultra Bright White), Galerie Art Silk, Galerie Art Gloss and Finch Fine as house sheets. Quality paper makes a huge difference in the end product. Many printing companies don’t seem to understand this concept and base decisions solely on price. I’m willing to pay more dollars per thousand to carry a quality sheet that results in a great product. As a result, I base my decisions on:

How well does the sheet run through our presses?
How does the sheet finish – will it crack, scuff, etc.?
Does the sheet provide a maximum amount of ink adhesion?
Does the sheet maximize quality and value without pricing our products out of the market?

Paper can be everything in digital printing. The wrong sheet can slow productivity in both the pressroom and bindery.

How has your role changed over your career, and what’s affected that role the most?

Cockrell Enovation

When Enovation was a separate company, my primary role was to make sure we sold enough to make payroll. I was more directly involved in sales. Since we combined with Cockrell Printing two years ago and became Cockrell Enovation, my role is primarily marketing and discovering new opportunities that will secure our company’s stability in the long-term future. The largest impact on my role involves how print is constantly changing, which is influenced by:

How people order print – an increase in the amount of orders placed online
Who is ordering print
– your buyers are not as sophisticated as in the past

The overall economic climate

We won’t survive as a general commercial printer, so we must constantly work to position ourself to meet the above influencers. Our client base is constantly changing as well. When we formed Enovation Group, a large portion of our sales came through advertising agencies and freelance designers. At that point, my role involved marketing Enovation Group to fit the needs of the creative — quick turns, high quality, thinking outside the box. This shifted completely over the last three or four years as competition increased and we made moves to move away from the identity of a commercial printer. Now we deal mostly with direct clients, primarily due to our focus on web-based print and marketing applications. While print is the output, we are positioning Cockrell Enovation as a technology firm that assists marketing departments with workflow and accountability.

Can paper define a brand, and how so?

Paper definitely defines a brand. It’s frustrating to see this overlooked because paper and print work together to stimulate your senses — which should be a major consideration when companies work to define a brand. You have to think about how a particular stock reacts with the printing process and then how it feels when it is touched by the consumer. It’s one of the easiest methods that can make a company stand out from its competition.

What are some of the trends in ways agencies/designers are printing with paper?

It’s a bit chaotic right now. Agencies are still specifying paper but the economic climate is forcing the end user to look after every dollar. As a result, it’s usually the first thing to change after the initial quote. Text and cover is still very popular because it’s seen as going back to the basics, even though it’s actually more expensive. On the other hand, end users aren’t specifying at all…it’s simply “make it cheap and make it quick.”

The same goes for additional services. We aren’t doing near as much with foil stamping and specialty finishing as we were 3-5 years ago.

For us, the trend is web-based automation. Companies are looking to have everything organized and accessible online for easy ordering and the ability to push the costs onto franchise locations or other end users.

What are common myths about digital printing that keep designers, agencies and end users from specifying paper on a print project?

Many of the myths are actually truths from clients being burned in the past. Old digital equipment was all toner-based, so all products printed/looked the same regardless of the stock — it was simply melted toner on paper. Fortunately, with technology from HP, we’re using actual ink that gives you the same benefits of offset printing where the qualities in the paper work in tandem with the inks.

Have you seen any examples of paper stock enhancing or hindering the impact a printed project?

Every day. Why paint a sheet that isn’t designed to hold solids? You lose the true purpose of the sheet. It’s like putting A-1 on beef tenderloin. Some things are meant to be left to their natural state, and certain paper stocks are made exactly for this purpose.

Do you have a favorite stock that you love to work with?

I have two:

  1. Neenah Environment Ultra Bright White — it’s a great text/cover sheet that has a subtle texture and prints amazing on the HP. It’s very versatile and works great with solids, photos, or simply text.
  2. Ivolaser — it’s a relatively unheard of text/cover sheet from Gruppo Cordenons but it probably prints better than any other HP-approved sheet I’ve seen.

I like sheets that people don’t tend to think about. I feel that it makes our products a bit more unique compared to the competition. It’s part of our brand. You want to be able to immediately recognize your product instead of having a commoditized look.

Tell me a little about Fresh Press.

Fresh Press

Fresh Press ( has been live since March, and in the works for about two years. It’s an online stationery site targeted towards 26-45 year old women that have a high perceived value of printed goods (personalized note cards, invitations, etc). It is also a direct reflection of my focus to find opportunities to sustain long-term growth in new areas of printing technologies. Printing companies have so much underutilized technology, and I wanted to find a way to start using some of our resources in a different way in hopes of creating new markets.

The current commercial printing market is broken. There’s a ton of capacity and too many people dropping prices to absurd levels just to keep business. So, with Fresh Press, I wanted to create an identity that drove digital printing volume without the traditional model — sales reps peddling for orders at low profit margins. It’s forced us to look at things as a retailer versus a manufacturer. I hired an intern two years ago to begin researching the industry and build a marketing plan. She is now in charge of running Fresh Press. It’s fun, and it gives us an opportunity to create demand and fill press time in a non-traditional manner. It’s also been an eye-opening experience learning the art of SEO and running an online business. We’re far from a Mark Zuckerberg Production, but maybe one day…

Which paper stock would you be and why?

I told this to my wife as a joke — Ikono because it’s still very attractive but no longer available on the market. This is how your life changes once you reach 30 and you’re married.

But being serious, I would say Classic Crest — I’m conservative and traditional…nothing too fancy but at least have a bit of color when I want to branch out.

What do you foresee as the biggest area for growth in the printing industry?

Online print management. We quickly realized where we had a niche, and combined this with our vision of making ordering print as easy as sending a file to a network printer. Many printing companies are achieving this by setting up retail sites (VistaPrint, etc). I don’t think that’s a good fit for us and I would prefer to avoid selling our product as a commodity. As a result, I want to push our model of online print management to help us be a better overall resource for a company. Rather than being a stand-alone website, we’re providing more of a service that helps organize business processes. It takes more effort, but it’s definitely better for our clients as well as Cockrell Enovation.

Printer's Loop

If you’d like to find out more about Cockrell Enovation, Fresh Press or reach out to John with any printing questions you can contact him at, or visit the websites at or Be sure to follow Fresh Press and Cockrell Enovation on twitter @lovefreshpress and @printingenuity, and become fans on facebook of Fresh Press and Cockrell Enovation.

Check back next month when we talk to Portland logo design superstar Jeff Fisher for Part 3 in The Paper Cuts Series.

Like what you see feel free to email me at and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve helped clients add a touchy, feely side to their brands with paper.

Part 1 of The Paper Cuts Series

Clampitt Paper Wrap
Though the design industry has changed in many ways just since the 90’s, printing is still a thriving and vibrant source for connecting with consumers, and paper is the key. For this series, I’ve interviewed some of the best printers, paper reps, and designers to give their insights into how paper can strengthen your brand.

The first post in the Paper Cuts Series features my interview with Clampitt Paper Company rep extraodinaire, Lee Cockrell. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with her over the last 3 years, and she’s helped me rethink and revitalize my approach to visual identity with her wealth of paper knowledge. She’s like a paper ninja, and she’s about to drop some knowledge on you. So lookout.

Give us a little bit of background about yourself.

I have been at Clampitt Paper Company for 7 years as a specification rep. This is my first job out of college and has been quite an adventure and an amazing career.

A specification rep takes on a few roles at a paper company. First, we act as marketing and promotions for our company, being Clampitt Paper. I have the privilege of showing promotional pieces from our manufacturers giving printing tips and ideas on how to use their paper. I also get to act as a paper consultant for end users and the graphic design community helping them specify the best papers for the projects that they are working on.

What first drew you (bad pun, I know) to paper?

The mystery of it all. When I interviewed with Don Clampitt, we took a tour of the warehouse and I was so surprised to see all the different paper. There were cartons and rolls of paper — another world I never knew existed. I was very interested to learn about all the different kinds — as the only kind I knew was the lined paper we used in school.

What do you consider the most valuable asset of designers working directly with a paper rep?

Working with a paper rep gives you access to any and every kind of information you could ever dream about paper, printing, binding…anything. As a designer, there is the obvious working relationship with printers, photography reps, and copy writers, but as a paper specification rep there is access to it all! Also, the manufacturers are constantly putting out materials that are cutting edge for designers — fonts, layouts, bindery. So having access to that can be crucial to stay current for your clients.

How has your role changed over your career, and what’s affected that role the most?

My role has changed dramatically over the past 7 years, because the paper industry as a whole has really changed, much like many other industries. With the growth of sustainability the paper industry has made a lot of changes — the most important being marketing. Although they use a lot of fuel and water, paper companies are very sustainable. They have to be. There are more trees in North America today than there were 20 years ago.

The internet has done both good and bad things for paper. The bad part would be email and the lack of letters, faxes, etc. that use paper for correspondence. Even on-line billing has cut into the use of checks and statements sent in the mail. And access to information in a matter of seconds has hurt the magazine and newspaper industry. However, we have found ways in which it helps with paper and print. The internet is not a strong way to advertise alone. You need a printed piece to drive consumers to the internet and vice versa. Also, the internet has really made paper stand out. Before it was all just paper, now consumers pay a lot more attention to printed pieces.

Even “The Office” has done wonders for the paper industry. It has really helped people understand our industry and what “Paper People” do.

Can paper be used to define a brand, and in what way?

Paper is one of the best ways to define a brand. The sense of touch is much stronger than the sense of sight, especially when it comes to paper. Paper is a great way to stand out from the competition, or blend in, if you so choose. It could be a texture, a weight or a color, but there are many ways to use it for brand recognition.

What are some of the trends in the way agencies/designers are using paper?

The biggest trend right now in the paper industry is textures and tactiles. Designers are trying to help their clients stand out. Another trend is uncoated. Many companies don’t want to appear slick and glossy during this economic time, so uncoated paper allows them to represent a softer personality.

What are some common myths about paper that keep agencies/designers from specifying paper on print projects?

Specifying paper is just as important as specifying fonts, colors, illustration or photography. It can and will make or break the finished piece. There are many myths about specifying which deters designers from doing it. They think it will be too expensive. Well, you can get a $1.00 hamburger at McDonald’s or an $8.00 burger at Chili’s, but you STILL choose a burger. Paper is the same way. There are all sorts of papers that fit all sorts of price points. Take control of the paper, even if it’s on the dollar menu. Don’t let someone else pick your meal.

Designers also fear that if they specify the paper they will have to wait many days for it to come in. As a distributor, we try to carry many different papers to alleviate the wait. Sometimes we have to wait for the paper to come from a mill, but it’s a much faster process now. Back in the day, paper from the mill traveled by rail, and it would take many weeks. Now, it takes only a few days and is packaged in much smaller cartons.

Have you seen cases where a paper choice has either enhanced or destroyed a creative project?

Paper can and will make or break a design. Just as you would probably not use the color red to project a high end spa, you would not want to use a coated or uncoated sheet for the same reason. Paper has personality, and when used right, it can enhance the design product. Used wrong, and it can take away from the message.

Tell me a little bit about the Clampitt Paper School.

Lee Cockrell teaching at the Clampitt Paper SchoolClampitt Paper School has been around for more than 40 years. It is a great asset to the industry, and I recommend it to anyone in print, design, marketing, etc. It is a half day at our headquarters in Dallas, Texas and we teach all the paper basics. First we present paper making, next paper math, then business paper, text and cover papers, coated papers, and the role that paper plays in the environment.

How can someone find out about the line of papers that Clampitt Paper currently carries?

The line of paper that Clampitt currently carries is on our website: It is a great resource for all your paper needs.

I know this is like asking a designer to pick a favorite color or font, but what’s your personal favorite paper stock and why?

My favorite paper stock is the Crane Lettra. I love the soft, plush feel of the stock and the colors that are available — all shades of white. I also love the 220# heavy weight cover! Another reason — 100% cotton!

I would consider myself anything from the French Paper line, because it’s more utilitarian, unassuming and a little rough around the edges. Which paper stock would you be and why?

The paper that I most resemble would be something from the Sundance line — it’s not too bold, but has enough color to get noticed, great subtle textures and a middle of the road price point.

When you get groceries do you spec paper or plastic?

I ALWAYS get paper when I am at the grocery store. PAPER is a sustainable resource, plastic is NOT.

Clampitt Paper Company LogoIf you’d like to find out more about Clampitt Paper or reach out to Lee with any paper questions you can contact her at, or visit the website at Clampitt Paper Company website. Be sure to follow Clampitt Paper Company on twitter @BarneyFiber.

Check back next month when we talk to one of Fort Worth’s premier digital printers for Part 2 in The Paper Cuts Series.

Like what you see feel free to email me at and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve helped clients add a touchy, feely side to their brands with paper.

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