I read a lot of design blogs and one trend I have noticed is the revival of old fashioned print techniques, particularly in the US and Europe. I must admit, it’s a trend I love and one I would be more than happy to see making its way to Australia.

Back in the old days, printing full colour was expensive. Due to budget, designers were often limited to one or two spot colours and had to create their work accordingly. With the invention of offset printing, and later the digital press, things changed. Full colour print jobs could now be produced much more cost effectively. This meant designers could use almost any design element from multiple colours, photographs to complex illustrations in every print job.

These days we’ve come to expect that a print job will be done in full colour and often on a digital press. Whilst there are many advantages to this route, sometimes it is good to consider stripping your design back to basics and using print techniques to make the work stand out. In a world of full colour not only does producing a print job in limited colour make it memorable but it gives you the opportunity to work with techniques such as letterpress, embossing, foils, flocking, spot laminates.

Many of you would probably say that printing a business card in one colour, or a prospectus in two colours would be boring, especially compared to full colour. I however would argue that a one or two colour design, done well, can be far more impacting and infinitely less boring than a full colour print job. When you work with minimal colours in design, it is challenging! You have fewer elements to communicate your message so you have to work extra hard to get every part of the design to work as well as it can, which often results in more refined designs. Typography selection, negative space, weighting etc. become a crucial part of the design and when used well can create an outstanding and memorable design.

When you work with minimal colour other decisions in the print process can have a big impact.

Utilising different paper stock for instance, is a great way to make a simple design extraordinary. Due to the nature of digital print, there is only a limited amount of stock that is suitable for this type of printing, however on a press your choices increase ten fold. A good stock can make all the difference to a print job by adding texture, colour and a tactile element. Paper can be such an important part of your business projection that it can be considered a part of your corporate styling.

Old fashioned print techniques such as embossing and letterpress can add further dimension and another tactile element. Using foils can give you true metallics and laminates can be used to highlight certain parts of the design or create subtle patterns that can only be seen when you move the printed piece in the light. Print techniques not only add a bit of glitz to your work but can be powerful enough to engage a consumer with your marketing collateral.

At the end of the day, great design work is about communicating a message and if you can do this a bit differently than everyone else, you are sure to get noticed.