It’s the age of social media, of new and emerging technology, of e-books and downloadable PDF’s. We’re in an age where not every office feels the need to own a printer. It almost seems that printed words on paper are a dated and dying form of communication.
But all is not lost – from the ashes of old Woman’s Day magazines, of files in filing cabinets and wire-bound textbooks, comes a new form of printed material. The lack of practicality in printed resources has left room for only the true essence of the art of print to shine through. A whole new genre of print and publications is emerging and it really is beautiful. It rejects society telling it that ‘print is dead’ and that technology is the way forward, by turning print into something with more meaning, more purpose than ever before.
Read on to find out where print is alive and thriving.
The Art of Binding and Making Books
Since the drop in mass-produced magazines, newspapers and books in general, there is a lot more space in the world of printed media for people to consider the true meaning of a book. This means that the art of bookmaking has been given the ability to shine.
Take Irma Boom, a Dutch graphic designer often described as ‘Queen of the Books’, for example. She is famous for her commissioned works that take the concept of a book and experiment with it to elevate it from just a mere carrier of information. Her books can be found in the MoMA collection, alongside many of the world’s most famous works of contemporary art.
Irma Boom’s experimental attitude towards bookmaking looks at the form of the book—how it looks and feels when you hold it, the techniques and materials used to create it, the connection the reader has with the object while reading it. This is not typical of your average author or designer, yet she is commissioned for some of the most esteemed publication projects the world over. Her work allows people’s perceptions of what a book is to expand, as the way we engage with books such as Irma Boom’s, is not through the content but the item itself.
Artists Using the Power of Zines to Get Their Work Out There
Seeing the beauty in the art form of a publication is not limited to MoMA-worthy creators. There is a huge community of people out there who have been utilising the world of print to gain exposure and to take advantage of an artistic medium to allow their own works to shine.
A zine is a self-published, small publication made up of a collection of original pieces of an artist’s work. They’re easy to print, cost-effective and circulate effectively—making them an ideal format for budding creatives to showcase their work in a printed medium. While many find that technology has provided them with much easier platforms to market original content, there will always be the creatives in society who value the craft of creating something accessible and tangible. Check out the Neighbo(u)r Journal as an example, a publication project that curates the best photos from photographers around the world.
Printed mediums allow artists to think about their craft in a new way. While creators make individual pieces on a daily basis, the format of a publication causes them to consider the art’s relationship with one another, how each page reads from left to right, and the look and feel that the book itself portrays. These extra considerations give artists another form of expression that goes beyond the art itself.
Designers Honing Their Skills into Quality Publications
On the other end of the spectrum, publication design seems to not only be part of trying to start off as a creative, but it is also a goal to reach once you are in a high enough position to put time into refining graphic design of the highest quality. Many firms in New Zealand are highly recognised by a publication they have released— whether it be commissioned or a ‘passion project’. These are showcased in Art Galleries and are constantly taking out Design awards, and one thing is for certain, the art of designing a beautiful book is alive and well in New Zealand.
If we think back to what books meant to people historically, we can think about how they were used to document the most important and valuable information in the form of the written word in, say, a hardbound journal. Now, the top graphic design firms in New Zealand and around the world take on this challenge to a new standard.
Technology has not hindered the power of print but enhanced it, and now designers see it as a true honour to be commissioned to use their skills to translate powerful information into print. Take Alt Group’s Cardboard Cathedral publication for example, or Inhouse’s ‘Tatau: A History of Samoan Tattooing’. These books are both beautifully refined and award-winning, placing both them and their creators in exceptionally high regard.
Tangibility That Can Never Be Replicated Online
Whether you are a creative or a logical thinker, there is no doubling the sensory elements that a publication brings. The art of print is in its tangibility. The smell, sight, feel and sound of a book as you flip through the pages has more meaning than any touch screen elements of a smartphone will ever create. Whether you are nostalgic for an earlier time full of libraries and reading nooks, or are simply the type to perceive value in physical objects, books will always be the preference.
While social media is for sure on the rise and creators, authors and publishers are seeing more monetary value in Instagram followers, e-books and web-apps, there will always be a place for physical books in society. Print is not ‘dead’, the perspective has just shifted to allow space for quality and creativity to shine through.
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