Did print beauty get lost in the scramble for digital?
Last night, The Boy got a lovely package. It was a couple of books from the Folks at For Print Only. Each year, they do awards from print design and print them in a lovely little book.
I went to their site to check out some of the projects that didn’t make it into the book — namely magazines and journals. As I clicked through the sparse 3 pages of magazines, I realized something. Not one paper news outlet that I subscribe to is this beautiful. The magazines highlighted used words like bespoke, and low-fi, words I would not use to describe anything I have on my coffee table.
Wired is one of my favorite print subscriptions. It is pretty and well-designed. It is nothing like these. They have foil print, custom typography, paper that is heavy, things that I do not even know the word for.
Many of the amazing page designers I know have jumped into online wholeheartedly.
I’m not saying that online is responsible for the death of print design. I am obviously a huge proponent of online. But I simply cannot remember the last time I looked at a print product and said “Wow,” unless it was from the maker/artisan/Etsy community. What does that say about beauty in what we do?
I find the artisan community an interesting contrast to what has happened in journalism. I’ve been on Etsy since….ever, and many presents of mine come from there. I enjoy the curated, small shop experience. Etsy has brought back crafts that were thought lost like papercutting.
That feeling is one of the reasons I used to read Good Magazine and others. It’s a feeling that is all but lost in today’s print journalism.
Printing has gotten more expensive than ever, and online is cheap to make. A web site is nearly free whereas a piece of paper and ink costs. But Etsy is small scale. You want to own it before it is too late not to own it. I used to collect magazines for that reason. It’s why my father had a whole shelf full of National Geographic — it was something to save, something to look back at later. Why do that now when you can just archive it on a web site?
When the web first came about, it was the complement to the traditional product. Let’s archive it online, we would say. Cheap. Easy.
As web becomes predominant, what if we flipped that? Why has print not become the complement to online?
The notion of the dead newspaper might stay a notion if we change our thinking about what print can do that it has never done before.
Tell me, what’s the last beautiful piece of print journalism that you’ve seen?
(Note: This is probably the most strongly written thing I’ve said in a while and I do not confess to being a designer, just a consumer of design. I do want to be wrong about this — show me.)