· Think Ink! ·

I guess it might be inevitably to think that the society we live in will change every time a new invention comes up, and this is both frightening and thrilling at the same time. It already happened with the telegraph in the 1840’s, the radio in the 1900’s or the TV in the 1920’s. There’s this fascination about the new yet mixed with hesitation.

The debate about the death of print doesn’t come us a surprise although it is been emphasised by the appearance of digital formats such as online publications or e-readers. Indeed at the beginning of the 20th century there were already some artists and philosophers that already dared to predict the depict future of 2000 due to all the technology innovations.

The French artists Villemard’s postcard from 1910 predicting the 2000 depict future.

The famous graphic designer, David Carson claimed the death of print in his 1995’s book “The End of Print” by claiming that the imagery would take the lead and supporting the position of the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan about the influence of technology on printing.  Nowadays, fully living immersed in those technological inventions, there are still people reluctant to just rely on the new digital methods and stays by the side of the traditional means.

The Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara is one of those who still believes in the magic of printing. He stated that “technology has no point unless it subtly awakens and activates the sense of its recipients” and exemplified our situation by naming one of the greatest talents of all times:  “Leonardo da Vinci created magnificent paintings. There is absolutely no one today who can paint this way. We must believe that this fact is due tot the loss of sensitivity and wisdom so obvious in his work. The same can be said of the skills of skinning apples or writing letters by hand. The necessary sensory perceptions and receptivity have begun to fade away.”

Definitely one of the most important points about the traditional printing is the fulfilment and satisfaction that a physical product produce on us. As human beings, we like to get all our senses involved in the experience. On the other hand, digital publications out stand for its immediacy and wider range of colours on the screen.

Hara stated that “computer can bring us sensations that were beyond the reach of designers of the past. It inspires in us such a dynamic and uplifting motivation that we’re persuaded to abandon our antiquated sensory approach.”

In order to realise by ourselves the reasons why we choose printed products, we were required to make a list of our more meaningful printed medias in our life story and give the reason why they are so significant. This is my list

  • The visa stamp for the UAE on my passport.
  • A little pocket calendar of 1997 (the year I was born).
  • All my personal diaries in which I wrote about my childhood and teenager years.
  • My first official certificate in English
  • Postcards from my German friend travelling the world.
  • My artistic sketchbooks
  • Tags from my favourite clothes.
  • Cinema tickets
  • My endless list of “Movies I have to watch some day”  in a A5 notebook.
  • A goodbye letter from my best friend.
The visa stamp on my passport
Postcards from my German friend

My little pocket calendar from 1997 and its little painting on the back

To finish the lecture, we went across various printed independent publications that were worth mentioning due to their particular and memorable features and high quality. Such as the Austrian magazine ‘Vangardist’ which was printed using ink mixed with HIV positive blood or the ‘Vogue Gold Millennium Issue’ from December 2000.

‘Vangardist’ magazine, HIV positive blood issue
Vogue “The Millennium Gold Issue”, December 2000

Actually, despite the strong impact of the digital medias, the print is still a trend chosen for many for more independent, exclusive and thoughtful products, as there’s still zine fairs, for example and many brands and editorials that rather prefer to make short carefully treated runs -revivalist print-, than long cheap runs.

To sum up, I would like to cite the letter of American designer Jessica Helfand in the last editions of ‘The End of Print’ to her daughter: “Print isn’t dead, sweetheart. It’s just sleeping.” She argues that as long as reading would exist, print won’t die and that reading is something that will never die as “reading is your ticket to the world”.


Reference List

Baines, J & Sykes, R. (1016) ‘Think Ink!’ [Lecture to GMD Year 1] T303: Contextual and Theoretical Studies. UAL

Carson, D. and Blackwell, L. (1997). David Carson. New York, NY: Universe Pub.

Hara, K. (2007). Designing design. Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers.

Pages, T. (2016). Villemard’s Vision of the Future – Sociological Images. [online] Thesocietypages.org. Available at: https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/03/09/villemards-vision-of-the-future/ [Accessed 6 May 2016].

Poole, B. and →, V. (2012). The End of Print (Again): Why David Carson Still Matters – Print Magazine. [online] Print Magazine. Available at: http://www.printmag.com/design-inspiration/the-end-of-print-again-why-david-carson-still-matters/ [Accessed 6 May 2016].


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