Is Print Dying?

Not long ago, I wrote a blog-post asking what would happen if digital practices completely overtook everything else in the world, and included a small shout-out the ‘The New Day’, Britain’s first new independent newspaper since 1986. At the time, people were asking if the newspaper could survive in todays increasingly digital world. And now, two months after it’s original release, the newspapers cancellation gave us the unanimous answer of ‘no’.

This begs us to ask: is print a dying industry? Are we seeing the end of an era as more and more mediums, newspapers especially, turn into their digital counterparts?

Where’s All the Paper Gone?

Computers used to be costly, confusing, and frankly. ugly devices that only computer nerds and scientists ever found an interest in. So, for the most part, the everyman stuck to what they were familiar with: printed newspapers and the post.

That was until Steve Jobs came into our lives, and released the iMac, suddenly making the computer more accessible, aesthetically pleasing, and cheaper than ever. Technology continued to evolve, with the likes of laptops and mobile phones. And nowadays, not only is technology becoming more affordable, but it’s also becoming more portable. Gone are the days of computers being reserved to the office, as more people own smartphones than ever before, and the internet becomes more accessible with 4G services, and free wifi-hotspots in multiple towns and cities.

In short, the need for printed items, purely as a source of information, is declining rapidly in the western world. Information accessed via technology is overtaking printed information, due to its increased speed, reduced cost, and enhanced interactivity (it’s true what they say, “never look at the comments”).

Why Does Print Still Exist?

There are two main reasons why printing still exists in the vocabulary of people in the creative industry. For one thing, printed mediums are often a lot more practical than digital ones. Packaging-design, for example, can only be done with printed materials, regardless of whether or not the product is technological. I hardly believe we’re going to see holographic shopping-bags in the future. Signage also remains mainly print-based, since whilst electronic signs still exist, they provide little functional value, and aren’t as cost-effective as standard printed ones, due to the constant need for power to make the signs work.

The other reason is that there’s more variety when it comes to designing print-based items. With digital mediums, a designer can choose certain videos, cuts, animations and sound effects. Yet with print, a designer can choose from a variety of sizes, thicknesses, paper weights, finishes, cut-outs, embosses, debosses, printing techniques, textures, cover materials, special materials, mechanisms, bindings/stitchings, and even scents (limited editions of Katy Perry’s album, ‘Teenage Dream’, were given a ‘cotton candy’ fragrance). Plus, there’s something more aesthetically pleasing seeing a printed item on a shelf than there is seeing a digital item on a screen, overall enhancing the user’s experience when handling the product.

Where’s Print Actually Increasing?

Yep, believe it or not, there’s one kind of printing that works harmoniously with digital mediums, and is continuing to grow and improve in its quality by the day. What kind of printing is that, you may ask…? 3D Printing!

I’ll admit, I was initially rather skeptical about 3D printing, since I wondered if the products printed would be as durable as derivationally manufactured items. But, after a little product demonstration I was given last year, I was sold. Interests in 3D printing are not only expanding, but also diversifying, as the fashion industry has also take interest in the new technology.

Industries Never Completely Die

Remember back in the early 2000’s, when we thought CGI was going to eradicate both traditional animation, and practical special effects? Well, we’ve since discovered that traditional animation, much like print, offers more variety than CGI does. And, many a critic have grown tired of CGI effects, and favour traditional effects which involve makeup, puppets, and a lot of trial and error.

Remember when it was thought vinyl record were going to be wiped from public consciousness, too, since we now have CD’s and MP3 players? Well, the industry has now seen a resurgence in vinyl’s, since they have a stronger sound-quality, and are more nostalgic than the more modern technologies are. And, once again, a collection of vinyl’s on ones shelf is more impressive than a song-list on iTunes.

What Wen’t Wrong with the New Day?

Think back to what I said about the internet taking over printed materials as a source of information. When reading the news, few of us are ever bothered as to whether or not the paper is 120gsm or higher, or if the paper becomes saturated from the overlapping layers of ink. All people care about, when reading the news, is the news itself. So long as the typography makes the type legible, which would have to be considered regardless of whether or not the article would be put under the press, that’s all that matters regarding the design and layout of the article.

Personally, I do feel really bad for the people behind ‘the New Day’, since they seemed to put a lot of time and effort into making it marketable, and they made all the right moves by making the paper more concise and quality-based. They just focused their efforts on the wrong medium.

So, Is Print Dying?

Despite the fact that many print-based products are going out of fashion due to the practicalities of digital methods, I say that print-design, on the whole, isn;t going to drop completely off the map anytime soon. there are still multiple things print has over digital products, as well as products that quite simply aren’t possible, or practical, when made digitally. All that may happen is that print will involve to favour form over function, and become more upmarket than regular digital mediums.

Newspapers may be on their way out, but print is still here to stay.

Do you agree? Do you think print, as a whole, is on its way out? Was there some kept factor I forgot to mention? If so, feel free to comment below with your ideas.

What Would Happen if the Internet Destroyed All Other Media?

There’s been a lot of news recently regarding how much the internet is changing the face of media. Not only has BBC3 become the first TV channel to move entirely online, but The Indepentant announced that it would be going the same way, and people are already asking whether or not Britain’s newest newspaper, New Day, will survive in a digital age.

Not only did this make me wonder what would happen to the media industry if everything moved to being online, but also to the creative industry. Therefore, I decided to examine this possibility, and have listed the most likely changes that would happen for us creatives.

A World of Coders

I’ll start with the most obvious change; coding would become an essential skill for nearly all creatives. It’s thought that IT jobs will grow by 22% by 2020, and if more creative careers become anchored in the world wide web, knowing at least a little bit of HTML or CSS would become a priority.

Physical Products Become Upmarket

Predictably, as more people would become adjusted to digital tools, those who are traditionally skilled would become much rarer than digital creators. Therefore, traditional craftsmen would be able (and required) to charge more for their one-of-a-kind products, as well as focus on quality.

Digital Fundimentalism

Fundamentalism is a design-style that was extremely popular during the Modern Age that focused on geometry and ‘less is more’. Not only does this bring focus to the layout of a page, but it would be useful for reducing unnecessary data for a web-page. Therefore, geometric websites and brands in would most likely going to become the dominant aesthetic.

The Return of Retro

For every person who looks to the future, there’ll be one who’ll relish in the past. Therefore, there would most likely be a subculture of creatives who’d specialise in old-fashioned styles. Signs of this are already apparent, as the music-scene is shifting away from EDM into more folk-orientated sounds.

The Fall of Live Broadcasting

Almost every web-page has the option to leave a comment, so the chance to voice your opinion has never been easier. Not only that, but pre-recorded shows are easier to watch as more people become increasingly flexible with their daily routines. Putting both aspects into consideration, it would seem that live shows would most likely to decrease in viewership.

Rising Advertising Prices

Most things people expect to find online are free, so that would only leave advertising revenue as the way people to make money of their websites. Combined with the lack of space available on one page to market, adverts would most likely become more expensive.

More Aggressive Adverts

Another thing to consider is that unlike the old-days, we now have the ability to either hide static adverts, or skip video-adverts after their first 5 seconds. With this in mind, many advertising agencies would have to think about the even smaller time-span they have to get the brands they’re selling noticed.

Extreme Target Marketing

Unlike the older days, when TV shows were watched by family members of all ages, we’re seeing an increase in people using personal devices to watch their favourite shows. This means the family-market could decline, and brands would become more targeted towards specific demographics.

Is a Completely Online World a Good Thing or Bad Thing?

In all honesty, I don’t really think it’s fair to say whether or not a completely online world would be good or bad. Evolution brings both positive and negative effects to just about any kind of industry or society, and usually in equal measure.

The purpose of this post wasn’t to be a warning, neither was it to be a demand. it’s simply a nudge to suggest what could happen, and if so, how we should adapt out skills to fit into the changing environment.

Perhaps you think differently, though. You might think the creative industry might change in a different way, or you have an opinion as to whether it would be for better or worse. If so, feel free to comment about it below.

‘The Rack Pack’ Review

Well, here’s a first. I’m actually going to do a review of a TV Movie which has been exclusively released on BBC iPlayer, The Rack Pack!

Why am I doing this instead of something more graphic design related? Well… I actually designed some of the props for this film. Specifically, I designed these drinks-labels…

drinks labels
The labels I designed for this movie.

There’s even an old blog-post about the time I spent designing them, and watching the show be filmed. So, it only seemed right for me to review the show I helped created (if only by around 0.2%).

Synopsis

Based on true events in the early 80’s, Alex “Hurricane” Davies is a bombastic, alcoholic snooker-player whose just too good at his craft for anyone to criticise. That is until Steve “The Nugget” Davis comes along, a nerdy, ginger-haired newbie to the sport who spends his spare time playing arcade games and staying clear of the booze.

Steve’s manager, Barry Hearn, knows he has the skills, but not so much the personality for being in the limelight. So, he gives the lad a new haircut, a new suit, and trains him to be the well-manored yet startling snooker-professional we all associate with the sport today. But as Steve gets more positive publicity throughout the tournament, it looks like it may be more than Alex’s championship that’s on the line here.

Davis made to look threatening.
Davis made to look threatening.

The Good Points

Let’s start with the actors in this film, because they all did wonderful jobs. Luke Treadway did really well as Higgins, especially as we watched his life go down the pan. Will Merrick was really good as Davis, too, and it was fun to watch him grow from being the underdog to the quasi-nemesis. Kevin Bishop was spot on with his voice when playing Hearn, as well. Honestly, there isn’t really an actor or actress in this movie who I was swap. They were all right on the money.

Higgins and Davis prepare to lay against each other.
Higgins and Davis prepare to lay against each other.

I also thought this was written especially well, not only for the memorable characters and sequences, but also because it managed to cater to both sports-fans and the general audience. I’m saying this, because even though I’m not into snooker by any stretch of the imagination, I still felt as if I could grasp how rules of the sport worked simply by watching the film. I didn’t have to think too hard about what they were, I could just watch them play and grasp if they were doing well or not.

By the way, were these actors really playing with real balls? There’s one continuous shot I remember in which we see Higgins pot them all one after the other, and I was trying to figure out whether or not this was really him doing it, or whether there were some very clever effects being used in post-production. Either way, it was still very impressive.

Was this moment real, or some very clever movie magic?
Was this moment real, or some very clever movie magic?

Speaking of which, I loved it how cinematic this movie felt. It didn’t feel like the director shrugged his shoulders and said “oh well, it’s only going to be on iPlayer, so we don’t have to work as hard on it”. No, I actually felt as if I could watch this on the silver-screen and be very satisfied with what I saw. I loved the desaturated colour-palette, I loved how the editing flowed seamlessly between all of the different camera angles, and admittedly, I’m a sucker for the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. There’s just something about wide-screen that I fall for every time.

I realised this back when I saw this movie being filmed, but what I didn’t realise was that what I actually saw was the movies ending. And I have to say, there’s something really chilling about this. Despite all of the editing in the finished product, I can tell you from personal experience that this scene was actually acted and filmed in one continuous shot (albeit multiple takes), and it really felt like these two characters had been in this mad journey this entire time. They had their highs, and they had their lows, and with the way they were talking to one another and saying their farewells, it actually kind of left an impact on me.

A still from the very shot I got to see being filmed.
A still from the very shot I got to see being filmed.

My Little Criticisms

What, you didn’t think I was just going to be calling this movie perfect on the pure basis I had some involvement in it, did you?!

Well, I for one think honesty is the best policy, and I think it’s only respectful to be honest with the crew of this movie about the little problems I had in order to know what improvements could be made in the future. And besides, it really was only minor problems I had with the show.

Most notably, it was simply that I noticed a few details in the props they used which gave the game away that they weren’t real. For example, when one character stuck a cigarette in his mouth, I could see the indentation of where the fake logo was glued over. I can’t really criticise the show for that, though, because the naked eye wouldn’t have noticed. You’ve got to really know what you’re looking for to spot these errors.

Also, the soundtrack could have perhaps been worked on. Don’t get me wrong, the actual playlist is fantastic. One of the songs they used, Baba o’Riley from The Who, is actually my favourite song (I love songs with a strong build-up). But whenever a song started playing, it seemed to come out of nowhere. Once again, perhaps that’s simply a case of me being farmiliar with the material.

Overall Opinion

On the whole, I found this to be a really well-produced, cared-for, enjoyable TV movie, and surprisingly enjoyable for those not into Snooker. If it comes out on DVD sometime soon, nothing’s going to stop me from buying a copy.

Now, I’m not exactly the best person for making predictions for award-season. I thought Inside Out might have been a contender for Best Picture at the Oscars this year, and it wasn’t (good grief, will an animated movie EVER win Best Picture?!) With that said, this did remind me quite a bit of another TV movie I found to be exceptional, Murdered by my Boyfriend, and that had its fair share of BAFTA nominations.

So, keep your eyes peeled, folks, because this might be a BAFTA contender.

Keep your eyes on this, Higgins!
You heard me, Higgins!

If you fancy watching this movie, feel free to click here and experience the rack pack play the game the only way they know how!

Why I Love ‘Design Swansea’ Meet-Ups

I was absolutely gutted last week when I missed a‘Design Swansea’ meet-up for the first time. Ever since I first learnt about them, I’ve attended every single month. It’s just a shame that the date of this months clashed with pre-booked events.

So, to make up for it, I thought this’d be a good time to explain why I love going to these meet-ups. Furthermore, it might be nice to give you, my readers, an insight into why going to any sort of meet-up is worth the journey.

I Always Learn Something New.

Every time I attend, I always make sure to bring something I can write on. There are so many new things I can learn, and perhaps even research into further, I just need something to get it all down on. I find it hard to think of a presentation I’ve seen which I didn’t find to be worth listening to in one way or another, which shows you just how intriguing they are.

After all, my blog post before this one was actually inspired by a statistic that was mentioned in one the talks I listened to. He might have talked at the speed of lightning, but, hey, he’s a highly enjoyable character, and it allows me to practice my short-hand!

I Can Get Some Free Advice.

Nobody is perfect at their profession. Even those who are most dedicated to their work can either make a mistake or just not know where to go. So, it only makes sense, for when someeone in a profession like mine gets stuck, to turn to someone I can trust for advice.

These meet-ups are fantastic places for that. I was struggling one time to get a piece of HTML right, and after a short conversation with Gareth Evans (who I believe also designed the meet-up logo), I asked him if he could think of where the problem was from the screenshot I showed him. Kindly, he offered me some advice as to what the correct code to enter was. If I didn’t meet him at this meet up, I’d still be struggling right now.

I Can Get Away from the Computer.

This isn’t just a concern for graphic designers, as at least half of all jobs now requite some sort of computer work. And even if you’re on that computer doing a job you enjoy, it’s hardly ideal to be stuck in front of a screen, day in and day out, for the rest of your life.

That’s why it’s nice to have an event for us designers to go to where we can break the deadly cycle and actually interact with others. We can talk about how we’re doing in life, and as mentioned earlier, we can bounce both advice, and opinions, off one another.

It Allows for a Friendly Rivalry.

Seeing as the majority of us are either freelancers or working for rival companies, it can be easy for us to start bearing grudges against one another. After all, business is based on competition. With that said, it’s always wise to avoid making enemies as much as possible, since the majority of job opportunities come from those we know.

That’s why it’s good to have an environment were we can interact like this, because it shows that we’re comfortable with being where we are and not fussed as to whether we’re better or worse than any of our competitors. Nobody goes to these meet-ups just to wine and moan, we all go to to just relax and talk about the jobs we love doing.

I Can Be Myself.

I know it’s a cliched thing to say, but I can really be myself. These meet-ups are far less restrained than an office would be, not requiring me to conform to a dress code or work to a deadline. Plus, I don’t just have to talk about graphic things. The first day I ever went there, I spent a whole hour just talking to Gemma Williams about what kind of films we enjoyed.

And why is it good to be myself at a place like this? Because by showing the kind of person I am, it helps me to befriend those who share the same love for the design industry that I have.

And A Bonus… Free Pizza!

Hey, you can’t really go wrong with that!

Why Do We Lose Our Creativity As We Grow Up (And How We Can Prevent It)?

During a presentation held by a highly enthusiastic Dan Spain at my nearest meet-up, he talked about a 2006 survey held by Sir Ken Robinson. In the survey, 1,600 children were tested to see how many of them were ‘highly creative’ (or more specifically, how many could think in “divergent or non-linear ways”) at various stages of their life.

Frighteningly, he discovered that despite 98% of them being highly creative aged 5, that dropped to just 2% by the time those same children were 25.

(AUTHORS NOTE: I’ve since been corrected that it was in fact George land who did the survey, not Ken Robinson. Thanks a lot, Google!)

As I left that night, I asked myself why we drastically lose our creativity as we get older. What I came up with were a variety of factors and a variety of ways we, as grown ups, can get around it.

We’re Not Looking After Our Bodies As Well As We Should.

lossofcreativity_yoga
We privileged westerners often end up living unhealthy lifestyles, which can include too few vegetables in our stomachs, and too many un-earnt pints at the local pub. And, there’s plenty of evidence to prove that having an unhealthy body can lead to having an unhealthy mind.

Furthermore, graphic designers can spend long, long hours sat in front of the computer, staring at bright screens with square eyes, and eating way more carbohydrates than one can burn.

This is why looking after your body is important. You don’t have to be a health-fanatic by any means, but little things like keeping an eye on what you eat, exercising, quitting bad habits, and only treating oneself in moderation, can make a big difference. Keeping your body and mind healthy will allow you to hold onto its creative juices the longer you live.

We Have a Dumb Idea of What Makes Someone ‘Smart’.

lossofcreativity_apple
Whilst I’m probably more respectful for our education system than most of my friends are, mainly because I’m just glad it’s compulsory, I do think it can do with some patching up.

Partially to blame on society, it tends to be overly dependant on revision and memory, when rationality and innovation are greatly underrated aspects to ones intelligence. One of my ongoing clients explains this astonishingly in one of his articles (and if having a grizzly-bear alter-ego isn’t a creative outlet, I don’t know what is).

Slowly but surely, our society needs to change the way we classify ‘intelligence’, and see that there’s more than one way someone can be smart. It’s not all about remembering the facts, it’s also about experimentation, discovery, defensive skills, and determination.

Computers Have Made It Too Easy to Find Answers.

lossofcreativity_calculator
One of the biggest faults of the Digital Age is that, quite literally, we can Google any question for almost any answer. Problem-solving is a vital part of divergent thinking, so the fact that we live in an a time where programs solve the problems for us means we’re not exercising our brains for finding the answers ourselves. Some professions require problem-solving skills as standard, but that’s a rarity.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but if your job doesn’t require those skills as much as others do, brain-teasers and puzzles are a good way of entertainingly training your head (Sudoku is a favourite of mine). Or, rock-climbing and orienteering can challenge your brain whilst giving you a breath of fresh air.

Whatever it is you’re doing, make sure you exercise your mind to avoid taking everything at point blanc.

We’ve Put Our Lust for Money Before Our True Passions.

lossofcreativity_coins
If you ask me, society has wildly over-glamorised money. From what I see, most high-paying jobs are extraordinarily stressful, and people in these positions barely have the time or energy to enjoy the things they buy. Furthermore, it’s not helped when those in higher positions disregard creative roles as ‘proper careers’.

So for one thing, let’s realise that the creative industry is perhaps more valuable than one may have first thought. To put it bluntly, it’s worth £71billion in the U.K., and $698billion (approx. £453billion) in the U.S.A.

Secondly, perhaps we should start measuring wealth by how much life one has lived. You really don’t need to buy 1,000 things you’ll never use! If you have a creative job you genuinely enjoy, so long as you can earn enough to survive, you’re better off using the rest of your energy living the short life you have with your friends and family.

After all, if I can survive with just Nokia 130 and without the latest iPhone, I think you can too.

We’re Scared of Trying (and Understanding) Anything New.

lossofcreativity_bohemianrhapsody
I have come to discover that even the most open-minded people, despite good intentions, can struggle to look at creations which aren’t ‘standard’, and realise that it might have been beneficial to break an unwritten rule to two.

A fantastic example of this is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Extraordinary and unconventional, it originally received mixed reviews, and a comment from Elton John saying “you’ll never get that on the radio”. 40 years on, it’s one of the greatest pop-songs of all time, as well as one of the most played ones on British radio.

This might be challenging, but if you see/hear a piece you don’t like, don’t just give it a thumbs down. Take a moment to question why other people enjoy things you don’t like, and not only will it allow you to see understand from a different point of view, but it might even turn that thumbs down upside-down.