What Can Digital Print Offer to the Creative and Design Communities?

Written by Paul Miller
World Wide Marketing Manager, iGen Product Family, Xerox

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Brilliance happens when a vision is brought to life through the formation and execution of a series of original ideas.
An entrepreneur turning a passion into a successful business venture. A musician telling a story through a series of metaphoric verses. An artist transforming a blank canvas into a masterpiece, capturing our imagination with each stroke of a brush.
Have you ever had the opportunity to share that exact moment with someone, witnessing firsthand as their vision was brought to life?
Just a few months ago, I was fortunate enough to share that incredible experience with a renowned illustrating designer, Craig Frazier.
Craig is a leading conceptual illustrator whose work has appeared worldwide in more publications than you can count (The New York Times, Time Magazine, and Fortune, to name a few) and for more clients than you can imagine (Adobe, Boeing, Chevrolet, and the U.S. Postal Service, among many others).
He chose to collaborate with Xerox and Mohawk on the production of a new, limited-edition, digitally printed book entitled, Sketchy: Sketches from 1999-2014 by Craig Frazier. The book, printed using a Xerox iGen 150 Press on Mohawk Superfine paper, serves as a reminder of the emotion print can evoke, the attention its physicality demands, and the intimacy its tangibility fosters.
The great designers know how and when to employ these traits in order to advance a message, a brand, an emotion, an idea, a cause, and a sense of authenticity. For those in the creative community, there is a natural draw towards the electronic space. It is the shiny object in the room. The online world catches your eye. It is fast, flexible, exciting, vibrant, viral and always changing. For some, this is the only world they have ever known.
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But I am here to tell you why the creative community should take notice to the world of print and familiarize itself with the advantages digital print technology delivers.
I witnessed the incredible creative process for a brilliant illustrator, and it took place in a room filled with printing presses and reams of paper in all weights, colors, and textures. I watched Craig’s eyes light up with excitement, but behind them you could see his mind feverishly working as he felt the substrates, adjusted the files, and touched the printed pages coming off the Xerox iGen 150 Digital Press.
Beyond the printed page, Craig saw the flexibility offered by digital print technology. A print run as low as one was now a viable option, allowing for a series of small tweaks and alterations before finally ‘committing’.
Digital print offers another differentiator in the form of customization. Coming into the project, Craig shared a vision of making Sketchy available in a handful of cover variations. As he began experimenting with ideas, I watched as one table of unique covers turned into two, which quickly turned into three. We ended with thirty different cover variations; which could have easily been one hundred. And that was fine. Digital print opens new doors for products targeted to custom audiences. Think special versioning and limited editions. And the quality? According to Craig, the books produced on the Xerox iGen 150 Press were indiscernible from his experiences with traditional offset print.
Living in an online world, it is easy to feel as though we are drowning in communications. Messages flash before our eyes, here one moment, gone the next, one after another.
Craig Frazier Sketchy Poster
Paper combined with great design becomes art. A unique experience can be created through print. It helps to foster human connections in a way missing from purely digital communications. Today with the prevalence of mobile devices and cameras, print is being shared in new ways. Social networks aid print in transcending the physical form to digital, further expanding its impact and reach in ways never before fathomed.
For those in the creative and design circles, the opportunity is as real as the feeling of Craig’s book, Sketchy, in your hands.
What role do you see digital print playing for the creative and design communities? Comment for a chance to win a signed poster featuring all thirty versions of Craig Frazier’s printed book, Sketchy: Sketches from 1999 – 2014, printed on a Xerox iGen 150 Press.

A limited number of copies of Sketchy will be available to attendees of Graph Expo, September 28 – October 1, in both the Xerox (#1213) and Mohawk (#3240) booths.  We invite you to stop by, see the difference of the Xerox iGen 150 Press, and pick up your copy, while supplies last!

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7 Comments

  1. Katherine Tattersfield September 25, 2014 - Reply

    Inspiring story!

    Digital print’s come a long way. As the creative community sees that color management is no longer as big of an issue with digital technology, the potential to create unique experiences with short runs will win the best artists over. Personally I’m interested in creating a digitally printed physical copy of my portfolio. There’s nothing more satisfying as a creative than being able to hold your work in your hands, pass it along to someone else, and watch their reaction. I predict more designers will create printed portfolios for maximum impact.

    • Paul Miller September 25, 2014 - Reply

      Katherine, thanks for the comment and for sharing your thoughts. My hope that this is just the first step in Xerox collaborating more closely with the creative community. As we were working with Mohawk and Craig, it was evident that we should seek out additional projects similar to the one with Craig. We do have plans for future collaborations and educational opportunities for the creative community in the coming months and into 2015. Please also be aware that we have a Xerox Premier Partner network that is searchable by geography and technology so should you want to find a Xerox provider near you (http://www.xeroxpremierpartners.com/) there’s a quick and easy way to do so. Thanks again and I hope you’ll enjoy Part 2 of this blog entry in the coming weeks!

  2. Matthew Price September 26, 2014 - Reply

    Great story, and good to see creatives capturing the true potential of digital! As a designer I seem to be placing more and more digital print these days. Clients love the cost savings that it provides over conventional litho, and with the range of materials, weights and quality there is no telling the two apart these days. And of course, there’s nothing like the excitement of seeing new substrates and printing techniques to provide me with fresh inspiration for my next project. Wish I could get to that Graph Expo!

  3. Marlie Davidson November 20, 2014 - Reply

    I really like this story. Digital printing is a great development. There are many reasons why designers should use it. The truth is, it opens up a bigger opportunity to be creative. Thanks for the post!

    • Bill Michael November 21, 2014 - Reply

      Matthew, Marlie – thank you both for taking the time to comment. The collaboration between the design community and digital printing is an exciting story, offering tremendous benefits to all involved. We have a follow-up piece from Craig publishing shortly, so you’ll definitely want to subscribe to the blog to see the latest!

      Bill (Xerox)

  4. Richard Thompson May 15, 2015 - Reply

    I am impressed to see how Bill used a story to help illustrate the power and importance of digital print. One sentence really stood out to me. It was, “Digital print opens new doors for products targeted to custom audiences.” With so many messages being sent to people from the Internet and other media tools, using paper to target an audience instead of technology is refreshing. There are so many more opportunities to have amazing messages and designs using paper.
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    • Bill Michael May 15, 2015 - Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Richard – we really do appreciate it. In a world where an average of 27 emails flood our inboxes each day, while the average household receives just three pieces of physical mail – targeted and personalized print truly is an effective means to capture attention and cut through the clutter!

      Bill (Xerox)

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