Part 1 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.
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.
Clampitt 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: www.clampitt.com. 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.
If you’d like to find out more about Clampitt Paper or reach out to Lee with any paper questions you can contact her at email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.