Print is Here to Stay

Kristen is an adjunct professor for the 2014 fall semester in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). You can read more about her newest endeavor at _ _

The atmosphere at DAAP is exciting. The college is consistently recognized as having one of the best programs in the nation, but the reason I'm so thrilled to be working at DAAP is the students.

My class, Print Design 1, is more to the students than just checking off a requirement for their major. Print 1 is an elective class, which means that the students I'm working with want to learn about print design and are passionate about doing so. Up until this point, most of these students have only had fundamental classes and this is their first chance to synthesize all they have learned into a whole, real-world-esque project.

Everything from their currently held notions about print to their design techniques will be challenged, developed, and honed in class. They are presented with challenging coursework and have risen above it, going beyond the call of duty.

This semester, the students are creating a guidebook. It can be a guide to anything; Ohio’s State Parks, Route 66, The Himalayan Yeti, or Hogwarts (10 points to DAAP!). They have to develop a target audience and use that audience to help them make design decisions. Along with the book, they have been tasked with creating three additional, corresponding applications, one of which must be digital. By requiring one application be digital, I hope to teach my students that not only is the monotonous drone of “Print Is Dead” untrue, but, in fact, print is still an extremely effective tool, especially when working conjunctively with digital media.

Yes, yes, we are in the digital age, and technology is the future. But digital can also feel highly impersonal, in my opinion. With everyone from Fortune 500 CEOs to your grandmother’s bakery having a website, app, and social media presence, a well-crafted and beautifully designed print piece can bring the information directly to the consumer in an interesting way.

Print media is being reinvisioned. It’s seeping back into the cracks of the digital world and filling holes that digital cannot; it’s tactile, tangible, and experiential. And, while I do not think this makes digital design any less important, it means that print is beginning a resurgence.

Beyond utilizing all the beautiful advantages of the medium, print has a way of sticking around that most digital applications do not. Bauer Media reports that while consumers read less than a quarter of the text on a web page or targeted email, magazine readers see approximately 90% of the pages and will usually reread the same copy of the magazine over multiple days. Further, the US Postal Service has reported that 85% of customers sort through their mail on a daily basis with 40% trying new businesses as a result of receiving direct mail.

But just like many methods of communication, print design is a tool. Just because a print piece is created, or printed, there is no guarantee it will be read or effective. While placing a tactile article in the hands of consumers can be engaging, the key is to know the audience. Digital and printed applications should work together and speak to the consumer on a personal level. If the customer realizes they have been given something personal, something that will help them in their daily life or encourage hobbies or activities, it’s likely they will want more. A printed piece can drive them back to the digital presence that’s been created, bringing any design or campaign full circle.  

While it may not have quite the predominant presence it once did, the death of print has been highly exaggerated.

So, what does all of this mean for my students? It means that no matter how much they are told that “Print Is Dead,” if they have a passion or even an interest in print design, they can continue to pursue it without fear of becoming a “starving artist.” It’s not a dead medium, but rather a tool that they can use to strengthen, enhance, and support any design they create.

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