Creative professionals from the agency sector and print finishing discussed how graphic design and craftsmanship could better “find each other”.
Whether it involves “just” simple books or brochures, intelligently designed boxes and cases, cartons and slipcases, or very complex packaging and print projects: Those involved, such as creative professionals and print service providers, advertising agencies and book binderies, do not always rely on clear communication when carrying out the often small-scale “jobs”. In many cases, there are noticeable knowledge gaps and information deficits as well as unnecessary communication problems, with people talking at cross purposes throughout the work-flow and the value chain. This problem has recently brought together a number of experts from the fields of further education, graphic design, advertising agencies, and book binding for a joint discussion.
Frequent lack of interest
Moderated by Christine Merkel-Köppchen, owner of Buchwerkstatt Rheinhessen (Gau-Odernheim), an interesting expert discussion developed on the fringes of a supplier open house in Hamburg in the spring 2023.
Soraya Kuehne and Max Kuehne, owners of (craft) book bindery Begemann GmbH and Paperlux GmbH (Hamburg), want to draw the attention of younger customers to creativity in the print trade with a modern corporate identity, a website in German and English, and their own social media accounts. “Because not everyone today knows how a book is produced. That is why we try to teach this to young people", explains Max Kuehne. Soraya Kuehne and Max Kuehne can draw on 17 years of experience with the Paperlux advertising agency and many years of working with the Begemann book bindery, which they acquired in 2020. Yannick C. W. Teoh is a third-year freelancer and lecturer in typography and text at Design Factory International (Hamburg), and confirms that young people today are obviously more interested in electronic media than in the conventional craft of paper, cardboard, paperboard & co.
Deadline friction point
Holger Warnecke, joint managing director of Buchbinderei Warnecke GmbH & Co. KG (Broderstorf near Rostock), is the representative of the fifth generation of the craft and industrial business: “Unfortunately, lecturers and students do not have an 'acute' understanding of print. In this respect, the focus must be on the quality of the objects to be designed”. It is well known that discussions about deadlines are often “ friction points” during further processing. Ultimately, the “blame” for complaints would almost always fall on the book binder or the logistics provider. “Craftsmanship projects cannot normally be completed in a 24/7 rhythm like in the digital world”, Holger Warnecke points out. At the moment, communication about print jobs would be a proverbial one-way street for both sides, with people typically driving past each other far too often.
“We only deliver at the very end, when the project has already been completed”, explains Markus Menzel, joint managing director of Schmedt GmbH & Co. KG (Hamburg). Sometimes a material is requested from a specialist wholesaler and then a sample is provided - and shortly after that, the supplier is no longer involved in the decision-making process. In most cases, the exact purpose of the material is not specified by the client, so that Schmedt sometimes receives complaints due to a lack of information. Markus Menzel is therefore certain that in the future, Schmedt would like to “convert the existing volume of information into communication”.
Yannick C. W. Teoh, Design Factory International, recommends as a summary of many a dilemma: “rather approach one another and ask”. Even before the order is placed, it is important to focus on coherent communication, according to the Paperlux owners. Soraya Kuehne advises those involved in an order to “always take customers by the hand and to let customers know what is actually going on with the order”. Of course, in the opinion of most of the participants in the discussion, mutual information about the prerequisites and interactions of materials and technologies as well as mutual coordination of the required sequence of the individual process steps is important. This could reduce information deficits and comprehension issues and eliminate one-way communication.