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The arrival of the web and electronic publishing made countless printed documents redundant overnight, their purpose better served by the internet. Thankfully the prediction that ‘the book was dead’ was overstated, there’s more printed matter today than ever, more books, magazines and junk-mail. Today’s electronic media sits comfortably alongside the printed.
Brochures and printed literature provide the designer with the prospect of using a variety of materials. Paper, board, synthetic, fabric, wood and print processes like die cutting, embossing and foil blocking can all be used to portray a certain look suited to the brand or the message, differentiating the medium from online marketing significantly. For some purposes printed graphics are the only option, whether it’s tube posters, magazine adverts or high-end, bound, gold foil blocked, luxury brochures. An idea an be expressed using holes cut in one page to reveal a message on the next page. The way the document is bound also adds another layer of meaning or aesthetic. There’s a trend for showing the blinding of documents, showing trim marks and printer’s colour bars.
Perhaps the biggest threat to print design is not aesthetic but issues related to the environment and sustainability. There are recycled papers that are less of an impact and they use less bleach. Ideally the print campaign is targeted to ensure the material is not thrown away instantly. If it’s designed well, it will be kept and treasured.
Whatever happens with the printed medium, it will always be the case that good typography and content layout composition allows the information to be legible and quickly digested. Grabbing attention is one thing but keeping it and communicating the message at the same time aesthetically and commercially effectively is the key.