Application: Lights, Camera, Color! Mohawk’s Newest Guide Impresses with Color and Texture

by Brittany Willes, editor, PostPress

As every designer and printer knows, the success of printed communication begins not with the words or images on the page but with the page itself. As asserted by Chris Harrold, vice president and creative director for Mohawk, “Paper is a powerful tool, on par with copy and design in its ability to deliver, enhance and create memorable impact. Just as food delivers more than simply nutrition, the flavor and presentation of a meal plays a role in how we enjoy and remember the experience.”

Just as flavor and presentation can enhance a meal, color and texture are essential tools for enhancing print communications. With that in mind, Mohawk set out to create a definitive guide that could re-educate the design and print communities as to the benefits of print on paper – with a clear emphasis on the enhancing qualities of colored and textured papers.

“We saw a real need to create a useful tool with detailed strategies on how to harness the inherent impact that texture and color bring to a print job,” stated Nicholas Motyl, project coordinator, marketing. The end result was Mohawk’s A Maker’s Field Guide to Texture and Color, a 115-page resource for designers and printers.

The field guide is divided into four sections. According to Motyl, “The first section is an introduction on the importance of materials in any print project and how they can be used to shape, support and amplify your overall message.” The guide then shifts into two sections on texture and color. Each of these sections features three practical strategies and then a summary printed demonstration showing the range of possibilities with fine paper. Finally, the guide ends with a resource section allowing the user to gain more information and build on the techniques addressed.

Just as the guide details how texture and color can impact communication, the guide itself features a range of colors and textures. For instance, the cover was created using Strathmore Grandee, Blazer Blue 100 Cover and features red and white foil. The guide was released with two different dust jackets – one targeted at teaching graphic designers how to utilize the field guide and another that offers tips for the print community when working with clients. Both dust jackets were printed on Mohawk BriteHue vellum 60. The designer’s edition displays Ultra Lava text, while the printer’s edition makes use of Ultra Lime.

Along with the cover, tabs denoting the guide’s different sections likewise feature decorative foiling. The color tab is set off with blue foil, while the texture tab features red. True to its title, the guide features a wide range of colored and textured papers, as well as a range of processes, including 4-color process, duotones, blind embossing and spot Pantone colors. Overall, everyday printing techniques were showcased on 32 differently colored and textured papers in order to demonstrate how the two combine to make an impression.

Furthermore, the guide makes use of a combination of 4-color process and UV inks in an array of colors, including match blue, match red, match brown, match gold, match purple, match pink, match orange, white and black. Some pages feature multiple hits of these inks for added emphasis. Additionally, the guide also displays both embossing and diecut processes for certain sections.

In order to print the field guide, Mohawk reached out to printer and marketing communications company Sandy Alexander, Clifton, New Jersey. The guide was printed using offset printing, digital printing and embellishing processes. Finally, the guide was bound using a special type of copper wire-o, giving the guide an overall clean and functional appearance.

With 115 pages of photos, illustrations and printed examples, it should come as no surprise that such a complex project would present its own set of production challenges. Hybrid Design, San Francisco, California, was responsible for designing and creating the guide. Collaborating with the printer, Sandy Alexander, required a great deal of time, cooperation and coordination. Despite the potential for obstacles and headaches, according to Motyl, “The process was remarkably smooth. We moved from concept to final print in less than six months.”

“Equal parts inspiration, education and conversation, the Maker’s Field Guide aims to equip printers, communicators and designers with practical strategies and powerful demonstrations of how persuasive uncoated textured and colored papers can be when fully understood and utilized,” Harrold affirmed. To that end, the guide has received a largely positive response from the creative and printing communities. Having distributed almost 10,000 copies of the field guide, “the feedback we have received confirmed our sense that this kind of tactical refresher on how to use fine paper was long overdue,” stated Motyl.