Hit the Books: The Promise of Print

One of the hottest topics in all the creative world is the power of print. Yes, we live in the Digital Age, but print is still revered by many in the fields of photography, design, illustration, art, and more. Why is this? Why is print still considered so important and has this importance evolved over the years? In the era of social media, what are the benefits of ink on paper?

1. When you say “print” what types of things are you referring to exactly?

The range of print options is extensive and includes things like postcards, small, medium, and large photographic prints, wall art, magazines, books, journals, and Zines.

2. Is printing expensive? 

Yes and no. Printing can be expensive if you make massive prints or custom books. But for the most part, modern print is very affordable. One of my favorite publications costs me roughly $4, and I publish a quarterly zine, AG23, that costs about $10. Both are beautiful examples of creative design.

3. Why is printing our work so important?

Okay, this is where things get interesting. There are three reasons why print is important:

  • Print is slow and forces us to apply critical thinking to our work. Because there is a cost associated with print, we tend to pay more attention to what makes the cut. We may or may not make these same decisions when working in the digital space.
  • Print is also a bit confrontational, in a good way. It’s tactile and forces the viewer to put down their devices and pay attention.
  • Finally, print lasts. Many of the modern print options are archival in nature so make prints or giving a book is a great way to make sure stories survives from generation to generation.

4. Will digital eventually replace print?

Perhaps, but remember a decade ago when we were told digital books would replace printed books? Well, all these years later print book sales are up, and digital book sales are leveling off. Personally, I still prefer real books to anything on a device.

5. What about using both print and digital?

This is what most of us are doing now and will do in the future. Print and digital are different. One is not necessarily better than the other, so embrace each of these options and base your usage on demands and desires.  If you need immediacy then nothing beats digital, but if you have the time, print can resonate in a unique way.

6. How has printing evolved?

Printing has become much more democratic, much more accessible, and far more affordable. Some refer to this time as the second Golden Age of print, and I would agree with this. Regardless of what project I’m working on, I have so many options, from a Layflat portfolio to a magazine, or a wall art print.

7. Do you have any favorite print options or formats?

I do. I love the Mohawk Layflat paper option for my portfolios or image-heavy photographic essays. I also love the magazine format for its size, premium paper, and cost per unit. And finally, I love the trade book format for my sines and collaboration projects.

8. What is the best way to get started printing?

Start small. Start inexpensive. Sometimes we put tremendous pressure on ourselves to make something great right from the very beginning. I think this can sometimes take the fun out of printing. Printing is a little like learning a new language in that it takes practice and experimentation. This is part of the process and happens to be a lot of fun. So, start with a small book, magazine, or print and just enjoy the experience.

9. Are there any downsides to printing?

Not really. There is a cost involved, and the time required to design or edit what you are printing, but the end result far outweighs any downside.

10. What is your current print project?

I have three print projects on the go. The first is a Layflat portfolio about the experiences I have had while traveling in our van. The second is an ongoing magazine series that covers the photographic essays I like to produce. And finally, I am involved in a sine collaboration that utilizes the Blurb trade book format.


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