Now I’m not saying PRINT magazine was the sole reason I selected graphic design as my academic major, but boy did it sure have a lot to do with it. The Internet was certainly a thing as I exited high school, but in the late nineties I was still gleaning my sense of the world primarily through tangible materials. PRINT was not only a source of information and inspiration; it also served as a beacon, an apex of the printed object itself. Paper samples from French and later Yupo would be bound in with the rest of the gloss paper stock giving the magazine a feel of part art-object part publication.
Earlier this year I found out, (rather late I suppose), that PRINT was going out of, well…print.
This is a shame. PRINT is going to be missed. Even if you never cracked a cover, you should miss it. What will especially be missed is the PRINT Regional Design Annual. To be honest, it really is the idea of the annual that I believe we should miss the most.
Here’s why; it represented two critical things for our industry. (And when I say “our” industry I am not only referring to graphic design; but marketing, mass communications, illustration, shopper marketing, typography, commercial art, content marketing, marketing content…call it what you will.) The first is that the annual was a collection of work that subjectively represented the best of our craft. It was a guidebook, a premier on what relative approaches were appropriate for current culture and time. Second, and this one is important—it represented a goal. If you worked as a graphic designer, art director, account manager, creative director, writer, photographer, illustrator, you name it…you wanted to say at least once in your career that you were included in the annual’s collection of work.
It was always my goal, one of the “KPI’s” I sought to validate my career but I never made it into the annual and so I’m left to speculation as to whether my work was ever close to being selected.
And I’m good with that.
But what I’m not sure I’m good with is that in our industry’s assumed digital maturity that the need for analog print, for paper, for design to be held up as it’s own discipline should be ignored or presumed invalid or dead. Even as the size of the PRINT RDA dwindled over recent years you still got a sense of the vitality of printed material’s relationship to design. I believe human beings’ relationship to printed material is just as important as our relationship to digital material, social content and even voice.
PRINT will apparently live on as an online community and while I hope it thrives in that new iteration our industry should continue to champion the types of design and thinking that can only occur on paper and tangible formats. Furthermore, designers and thinkers still need to seek validation for their craft beyond the reach of their social feeds. Regional and national award shows such as the Addy’s are great, but in a sense they are ephemeral, (if not highly political). They are fleeting, but the record and residue left behind through printed and published material leaves strong evidence and inspiration for us and the future makers and thinkers in our industry…and in our communities.