Somebody recently mentioned to me that ‘print is dead.’
As a designer working in the industry for more than 15 years, I have to say this bold statement stopped me in my tracks. So much so, I thought I’d explore this assertion further.
So, is print ‘dead’ or is it simply undergoing transformation?
Print exists everywhere you look, however it’s just that we may not necessarily notice or appreciate it. Everybody probably instantly thinks of magazines, books and newspapers.
But if you take a look around you'll find a plethora of examples right in front of you, ranging from wallpaper, drinks bottles and large in-store signage to cosmetics, credit cards, billboards and the latest trendy t-shirt – which has most probably been silk-screened. What’s more, packaging in all of its many forms will always exist, from cereal boxes to the digital devices we buy to view publications. The list is endless.
There's undoubtedly no substitute for the experience of handling a nice brochure that is hot off the press. Print is permanent as opposed to the world of computers, in which information vanishes at the click of a mouse.
A place for digital versions of print does exist, however there are just so many things new technology simply cannot do. For example, with print you can:
Display or show it off
Cut it out
Colour it in
Touch it, feel it or even smell it
Recycle, reuse and sustain it
Human touch is just as important as the digital device, a sentiment that is clearly echoed by Gerald Richards, CEO of 826 National: "When we watch students with books, there's a very different experience – there's that power of having something physical that they own, particularly when they write and see their name in print: it's always there. With computers, it's gone at the touch of a button."
However, while online resources, smartphones and tablets might be continuing to take the place of print in some instances, it’s important to note some specialty print markets are growing. Many smart, commercial printers are constantly adapting their tools and techniques to response to big trends in technology, culture and commerce.
One thing’s definitely for sure: print is inescapable.