A Designer's Journey in Paper

By Jessica Morrow

From the Forest to the Fold

A Touchy Subject

Many of our clients rely on us, as designers, to help them make informed decisions about what materials will best suit their projects. Because of this, we are dedicated to staying on top of the latest trends in paper, packaging, trade show materials, and more to ensure we can recommend the best options for them to choose from.

It may sound like no hard feat, but we can assure you it’s more work than it seems. The abundance of information available to us in our digital age is invaluable. That being said, when it comes to paper there is nothing quite like a tactile experience. As a young designer, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with (what I call) the world of paper. As my career in design grows, the paper industry lessens. Thankfully, although paper mills may be cutting back on their production, designers are still strongly utilizing paper products and the amazing things they can achieve with them in design.

Graphic designer learns about the background of paper for design projects

Paper Perplexion

My interest in paper was piqued shortly after I began working at NeigerDesign. I was introduced to the many colors, textures, and politics involved in the paper industry, and realized I barely knew anything about the material I was working with on a daily basis. This realization pushed me on a quest to attempt to understand everything there is to know about paper; the processes, weights, coatings, etc. So that we can better inform our clients and friends, I’ve decided to share some of the knowledge I have gained with you, starting with the basics.

Graphic designer learns about the background of paper for design projects

Behind The Screens

Sure, you can find almost any type of paper online, but here at NeigerDesign we keep up-to-date samples from over 20 paper companies; each one is different from varying weight, texture, color and printing options. We believe you always need to see and feel the paper for yourself, and our paper library never disappoints. Whether you’re looking at paper for business cards, annual reports or invitations, we always know we can find something right here in the office.

Some of our favorite picks are as follows:
Bright white perfection: Domtar // Cougar
Fun: French Paper // Craft
Subtle Hue: Veritiv // Starbrite
Variety: Neenah // Classic Crest
Sophisticated: Mohawk // Strathmore

Graphic designer learns about the background of paper for design projects

Mail Dominance

Did you know that most paper companies make matching envelopes with their paper? This is a huge game-changer when it comes to direct mail campaigns. We’ve pushed invitations to new levels of sophistication using specialty paper for our envelopes to ensure they stand out in a stack of mail. Whether it be pop-tones, metallics or linen you’re looking for, the envelopes available on-demand are almost limitless. And as if that weren’t enough, companies such as Mohawk and French Paper send samples in pretty packages with useful sizing information included so you never feel lost.

Graphic designer learns about the background of paper for design projects

Behold The Fold

Another way we’ve pushed our designs is with unique folding. Two of our favorite examples are of the folds used for the 2011 and 2016 Adler Planetarium Celestial Ball invitations. For both invitations we used folds that would help mimic the theme of the event.

Supernova

In 2011 the theme of the event was Supernova. A supernova is a massive, expanding star. We wanted to make the invitations interactive, as well as classic. Working with Trish Witkowski at Foldfactory.com, NeigerDesign was able to develop an intricate folded invitation that, when opened, expanded just like a developing supernova. See more here.

Graphic designer learns about the background of paper for design projects

Across The Universe

In 2016 the theme of the event was Across The Universe. Because of this, we wanted to create a layered piece to embody the vastness of space—die cuts allowed for us to manufacture this effect and it came together nicely when combined with an accordion fold. The process takes an incredible amount of attention to detail, especially when taking both sides into consideration, but we think the finished product is worth the time put into it. See more here.

Graphic designer learns about the background of paper for design projects

Pulp Non-Fiction

Learning so much about what I could do with paper as a designer made me wonder where all of these materials came from—how were they being produced, and how was that affecting our lives on a larger scale? I decided to take a trip up to Rothschild, Wisconsin to visit the nice people of the Domtar paper mill. I figured they would be able to tell me a thing or two about good-old-fashioned uncoated paper. Which is kind of a big deal.

Read about my visit in the second part of this three-part blog series that will be published over the next few weeks.

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