Last week, we worked with our good friends at The Contemporary (formally the Dayton Visual Arts Center) to create invitations for their 25th annual art auction. To celebrate this silver anniversary, they wanted something really special and collaborated with LMG to come up with a killer design. When Eva, the executive director, was at Oregon a few weeks earlier, she saw a piece printed on black paper with a really unique design.

“How can we take LMG’s design and adopt it to a print technique like that?” she asked us.

After meeting with Eva and Jenny from LMG, Eva looked at the cost of doing the whole 3-panel invitation design on black paper using a white ink plus some 4/color images. We all knew that option was just too expensive, so we brainstormed a solution.

I suggested doing only the first page of the invitation on black paper, putting a piece of cool art by a local artist on the back, and then doing the rest of the invitation on white paper with black ink only. We could print the outer envelopes with a solid black flood — making some adjustments to meet USPS regulations — and then convert them. That fit the budget, it was a really unique design, plus we still used LMG’s design concept.

Great things can happen when the printer becomes an integral part of the creative process.

I tell this story often during Dscoop 2019 in Orlando, where the world’s largest community of digital print companies connect for like-minded growth. While here, we’re seeing how technology is expanding our capabilities beyond anything printers could have imagined years ago. We are also realizing that the application of these capabilities can lead to creations we haven’t even imagined yet.

That goes for us as well as the design community. We’re thinking about how we can collaborate with the creative community and we’re asking some big questions. How can we work together to create works of art on paper that are fresh and new? How do we develop these fresh looks and ideas? With that collaboration, can we produce memorable pieces that individually we would not have envisioned on our own?

One of my first stops at Dscoop this year was the GPA Papers booth. GPA is one of our valued paper partners because they are such a forward-thinking company. They want to be proactive, not reactive, and they know that giving us creative ideas is how they get their paper in the hands of our customers.

GPA has always excelled at matching unusual papers with designs that pushed the boundaries. They helped push our thinking behind the concept of “Design for the Paper,” meaning the use of substrates and substrate color to enhance the design. Substrate color is a huge factor we often overlooked before we had the ability to lay down white ink as a background for color, thus making those colors opaque on darker colored substrates.

This factor is one that has helped Oregon push innovative ideas to clients who look to us to create signature pieces for their audiences at prices that won’t break their budget. This effort must include the input of brands, designers, printers, content producers and other members of the creative community, as we are all looking to get ahead of the curve.

The group I call the creative community can do incredible things. Good clients pay them to communicate ideas and messages, and that all flows to printers in the end. When we make them our partners, when we help them find solutions, and when the client finally succeeds in turning their original intention to reality, we have the chance to break new ground. We have the chance to shift the perception of print to an industry that’s moving to the cutting edge, not one that’s past its prime.

When we collaborate, in the end, we all win.