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What’s the Future of Print Design?

Written By Nick Mendez | Nov 10, 2015

Design is always evolving; taking new chances that are informed by the past, but make every effort to avoid repeating it. No one wants to look outmoded.

People haven’t stopped making things. Tangible, paper things.

These days, so much of that conversation takes place around digital mediums—web design, mobile app development, responsiveness, scalability, and the never-ending stream of analytics that follows. The internet and smartphones are new and exciting platforms, and the speed at which they’ve evolved is nearly miraculous.

But I don’t need to tell you: people haven’t stopped making things. Tangible, paper things. Things you can hold, and smell, and hand to your friend without worrying about getting their oily fingerprints all over your portable supercomputer.

In Portland, there’s a whole lot of this thing-making going on at the Independent Publishing Resource Center on SE Division. Opened in 1998, the IPRC provides classes, technical resources and support for zine makers of every persuasion. Their 6,000+ strong zine library covers topics from politics to sex, music to cooking.

More than that, there’s a palpable energy to the place. You can feel how excited the zine makers are to have a space to explore the medium, and a community to share their creations with.

I couldn’t think of a better place to ask a seriously loaded question: What’s the future of print design?

The brave soul who agreed to tackle that question is Noland Chaliha, an instructor at IPRC and a zine baron in his own right. Noland works in web development, but still found time to found his own micropress called SNOOT BOOKS.

His experience building the tangible and ephemeral alike provides him with a fantastic perspective on the future of design, and more pertinently, where print design can still break new ground.

I’ll let Noland speak for himself (above) but I will add a particular reflection that we shared off-camera.

The reward for your hard work comes from their very human reaction.

So much of the digital design and marketing world is wrapped up in numbers. Everything from time spent on site to click through rate and heatmaps—things that tell you which parts of your design worked, and which didn’t.

That’s all good and fine, and that data’s a goldmine for advertisers, but there’s something much simpler about sharing a zine, for instance.

You toil and sweat to build a thing, and when it’s done, you hand it to someone you trust, whose opinion you respect, and see what happens. There are no cold analytics or ratios, just their facial expression. The reward for your hard work comes from their very human reaction.

The second issue of our own zine, CONTENT, is available now. Come by and grab a copy. I promise not to stare at your face [for too long].

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.