The Epitome of Print Education for Designers
With any project that transforms the conceptual into the physical, two types of brains are involved: the creative thinker and the engineer. An architect, for example, works closely with a builder to ensure that their fantastical designs are, in fact, in accordance with the laws of physics.
Marina Poropat Joyce, a self-described “passionate paper geek,” likens this scenario to the print industry. As in construction, two entities are involved in bringing an idea from imagination to paper. The designer is the architect; the printer is the builder. “Designers need to understand that the printer is their partner in the process,” she says. “They’re not just there at the end when you hand over a file.” On the flip side, she explains, printers tend to think of designers as “clients with a capital C” instead of creative entities who might benefit from discourse and visual demonstration.
Just how to form such a partnership—as well as tips for both beginners and experts in the industry—is the crux of Joyce’s new book, Designing for Print, which she successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter last year.“The inspiration to write the book came from answering the same questions for 15 years,” she explains, citing a guest lecture she gave to a group of UCLA students several years ago. “Afterwards, [most of the attendees] came up to me and said, ‘Nobody is teaching us this.’” It was a light bulb moment for Joyce, who decided to craft a syllabus for a class on the topic, which she intended to pitch to UCLA. Months later, she had her syllabus—and, she realized, the outline for an incredibly useful textbook.
Joyce has written Designing for Print in “designer-speak,” a tone that deviates from most of the published material on the subject. As the former owner of an award-winning design-to-print company who has been an art director for nearly 30 years, she’s qualified to speak to both sides. And although Joyce’s initial target audience was students, she’s found huge demand among working designers, particularly among professionals who went through school post-InDesign.
“People thought, ‘Oh, designers don’t need to be taught this, because it’s all in the software—but it isn’t. Designers still need to know what happens with paper and ink on a press,” she says. “When you fold and staple and stack and put ink on it, things change.” As for print’s existential crisis? Joyce believes it’s overhyped. “Is it really an increasingly digital age? I wonder,” she muses. “There are all these new things happening in print that we didn’t expect.”
For one thing, the disruptive technologies printers once fretted about have instead opened doors. “What’s most exciting to me personally is digital finishing,” she says. “Things that used to cost $1,000 just don’t cost that anymore. Personalization, too, is such an untapped gold mine. We can version out almost infinite [iterations] of something. And there are so many more resources at the industry’s disposal today. Printers, for example, can take a quick video on their phone, text it to their designer, and ask, ‘Is this what you hoped this fold would look like?’ It’s just so much easier to get on the same page,” says Joyce. And when it comes down to it, isn’t that the goal?