The Finishing Touch

Using all the senses in your printed media

My neighbours have recently had a brand new puppy. He’s a cross between a Jackapoo (yes that’s a thing now) and another, apparently genetically perfect, creature that produced possibly the nicest looking dog I’ve ever seen. Then I held it and the level of inevitable adoration grew. The extra element of touch added the final emotional connection that made it quite difficult not to steal it. Then I got to thinking—the same thing applies to graphic design and especially print. Can we use the other senses to make people want to keep your printed materials. Yes, it’s weird how the mind works.

Of late I’ve noticed that the range on print finishes and materials available at lower cost to my clients has increased. Foil, embossing, letterpress, laser cutting and metallic papers are just some of the things that, while once the preserve of big budget clients, are tools that are readily available at much lower cost to my clients.

Recently I had the pleasure of working with Pat Naish from Irisia Jewellery. I had the honour of working on his company name, logo, typography, colour palette and visual style. Early on, we discussed how the jewellery he makes has a vivid softness of colour combined with the starkness of silver. While trying to capture the etherial quality of the colour of the jewellery it struck me that we needed to explore the senses beyond the visual beauty of the work and emphasise contrast through the use of materials in print. As such we opted for a raised hot foil (which has a wonderful 3D liquidity) and soft touch lamination. The result echoes Pat’s jewellery perfectly and he has, on several occasions, let me know that his business cards have been going down a storm! The use of unusual finishes can certainly give you the edge.

White space can be a scary thing for some, especially when viewed as a pdf document on that stark white computer screen. But the printed medium can actually utilise that white space by engaging a person’s sense of touch and the visual impact of texture. A simple logo on a blank page can be all that is needed if the materials help it shine. The feel of something can not (yet) be replicated via the screen alone and a sense of quality can be added through the use of good quality paper stock and great finishes. Have you noticed the sheer number of fliers that are printed on uncoated paper stock (the rough feeling one) these days? Gloss was all the rage in the past but now it smacks of cheapness when misused. Whether the use of uncoated stock is a technique employed to give a feel of understated elegance, environmental consideration or homespun character, it definitely adds to the design in an unmistakeable way.

So next time you come to print something for your business or special occasion, have a good conversation about how using the right materials can literally add the finishing touch.