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Is Print Design Dead?

Give it a poke – did it wriggle?  You’re initial answer may be no (especially to the wriggling) but there is something about print that holds a majesty in it’s immobile state.  If done right, it doesn’t need to move to catch your attention.

notdeadI do not believe that design for print is dead.   In my mind it is merely metamorphosing into the next genre, like a Doctor Who morphing to the next actor.  This is the current war being waged in the world of the graphic designer, and so I think it’s an important one to discuss.  If print design is dead, are the graphic designers of the world soon to be extinct as well? Luckily I’m simply a -Designer (we don’t like labels over here) so I may escape the cull… but what does ‘print’ mean?


Phewf, ok, that seems sufficiently vague to flit between print and digital (pages – web pages? Or am I clutching at straws…).  Are we doomed to the digital-only depth of field?  Traditionally, design for print incorporates magazines, books, newspapers, etc.  Now even with the lovely kindle and it’s compatriats, we still have a love of books – yes this is fading, but it shows that we inherently still love to read something tactile with it’s own memories formed from its physical appearance.


If we think of print design as ‘Art’ – is art dead because contemporary art has hit the fore? No, it has adapted to the ways of the world.  If design is not first and foremost about adaptation to the market, then I fear I’ve been getting it wrong all these years…  We could talk about the role of print in a modern world of integrated marketing strategies, or we could debate the most appropriate use for print, or we could host a self-indulgent trawl through some of the most beautiful, creative and inspiring examples of print from the last year. Or we could just look around and appreciate it.  dp18For example:

  • Advertisements: although magazines may be on the decline, ipad editions are marvellous creatures and contain some beautiful advertising that would traditionally have been designed ‘for print’
  • Flyers: at events, you can’t solely rely on the dubious joy of QR codes – by handing them out, you are spreading the word to a larger audience
  • Brochures: Sometimes, we need to get away from the technology and flick through something interesting

The difficulty is that in a world solely made up of digital media, we are forever targeting our audience without allowing for the unexpected visitor, who may in fact make up the larger percentage of your customer base.

Many of the greatest digital designs have been designed by ‘print’ designers. The skills that have pushed the boundaries of design for print are of paramount importance to the land of digital.  Digital design can sometimes have a hollow quality as can be seen from early 90s websites and even now, from modern ‘do it yourself’ identikit websites.   If a designer understands ‘print’ design as well as enjoying the frills of digital, masterpieces can be created that can attract both sides of the consumer fence, and are therefore hugely more effective.  ‘Web designers’ are often just coders – they can understand and design the blocks that form the website, but do not look at the site as a whole and appreciate it as a full entity.  I am hugely passionate about the fact that your web homepage can be compared to a shop window – would you want to go in?

printalThe same principles of creating a desirable design apply to both print and digital, and I believe the design for print of the future will bring about a beautiful mutation of the best bits of both.  There’s still life in the old print dog yet, or rather butterfly…


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