Each year, I am fortunate to receive not only a lot of holiday greetings, but cards that are so carefully thought out, they are really hard to part with once the season passes. One of my favorites was a palm-sized, die-cut, snow-globe-inspired sleek number from Legion Paper — it is still displayed in my home in fact — featuring stark Sirio Ultra Black from Italy on front and the surprising glimmer of Mirri Sparkle on back. Who knew it would be the perfect surface for writing a message?
So much went into its physical production as you can see in this fun video.
To create the missive, Legion worked with designer Jennet Liaw and printer Mama’s Sauce. This interview with some of the card’s creators originally appeared in Legion’s blog.
What was the directive from Legion and how did you translate that into your design?
[Jennet Liaw, designer] The brief was very open-ended, which made it great fun for me to design completely from the direction of spotlighting the paper itself, and to play with printing technique choices — this is something clients are often stingy on. I knew I wanted to apply a foil, as well as make a die cut, so I kept the stroke weight simple and illustrative to balance out those techniques into the clean aesthetic that I personally like … made extra special for the holidays with sparkle and shine.
Did you revolve your design around the paper, or the other way around? Sirio Ultra Black is the blackest paper we’ve ever seen — how did that effect the design?
[JL] It seemed counterintuitive at first to use the blackest black to create a card for the holidays, a time usually associated with festive reds and greens, or warmth and earthiness. But it was an opportunity to create a high contrast effect, perfect to show off just how incredibly black Legion’s paper was, and how beautifully bright the white/foil that Mama’s printing would create. I enjoyed that the final product was a gently alternative take on the holidays — crisp like the wintry air and festive in a clean way.
What print methods did you use, and what worked well with the paper?
[Hogan Birney, printer] We ended up choosing Hot Foil Stamping for the entire piece as it is the best way to letterpress light colors on dark papers. The metallic foils work great as they cover very nicely and provide that shine that foil stamping is known for. A shine that works really well with the holiday theme and we knew would tie in with the Mirri Sparkle Paper. White foil is a bit tricky on dark papers and larger coverage areas, but since this piece was run one at a time, we had some flexibility and were able to get the white foil looking great.
You were a little hesitant to use the Mirri Sparkle. What are your feelings on it now, both in terms of design and production? Would you use it again and recommend it?
[JL] It’s an incredible paper. I had shoved the folder of samples in my suitcase to review while traveling, and when I casually drew out the Sparkle at the airport, it turned literally heads. After working with it, I know that a dominant paper like that can’t be a second thought or late decision — it’s definitely the star. I’m a believer in going full force, all the way, with any design decision — if sparkle is the goal, Mirri Sparkle is an awesome choice.
What finishing did you use and what worked well with the paper?
[HB] The cards were trimmed using a custom cutting die, created to mimic the shape of a snow globe. The card size and design direction that Jennet took allowed us to use the exterior portions for a border that would incorporate punch-out directions and a stand for creating a sort of three-dimensional snow globe. The Sirio Black mounted to the Mirri Sparkle die cut extremely well due to its dense nature and slightly coated surface on the sparkle side. Being that it was a thicker paper, the die cut created a nice bevel on the face side of the card.
Designing for a paper company, where the goal is to highlight the paper as well as the company – does that change your process at all?
[JL] Definitely – there’s a place in everyone’s heart for NYC, where Legion is based, so a subtle snow globe format was the perfect setting. Having that in mind also offered an opportunity for me to play with the forms of the iconic skyline. As I looked through images of the NY skyline over the water, I was inspired to put a twist on it by reflecting the buildings as scrolls of Legion paper, the star of the whole project. Also, if you look closely, the background pattern of the card has Legion’s logo woven into each corner (one of which punches out to become the “foot” of the standing globe)
Anything else you think the design community might want to know?
[HB] I think that it is important to note what can really be done with a simple piece. This is only a 2/0 (2 color on one side only print) that has a very dynamic and interesting look. By using different paper colors mounted together and making great use of the space from a design standpoint, it opens up room for the materials and process to really shine. Its very easy to get caught up in trying to get four colors on one side and two on the other that are printed, but by keeping things simple, not only does it help with production consistency with processes like ours, but it also helps with your production costs without sacrificing a unique look.
This was such an incredible creation, one I’ll obviously have trouble parting with. Speaking of incredible creations, I have to urge all National Stationery Show exhibitors to be a part of our Class of ’70. I have blogged about it already, but you can get more details here. Sponsors include NSS, Stationery Trends and Parse & Parcel, who is creating a container for all the cards that promises to be fabulous!
And, every exhibitor in the trading card pack will be highlighted in my seminar, NSS Class of ’70: Taste Makers and Trend Shapers, which takes place before the show even opens its doors on Sunday, May 25 at 9 am. I can’t think of a better way to drive traffic to your booth! In the meantime, use the hashtag #NSSClassof70 on social media to help promote this project.
I am off to Atlanta tomorrow so I’ll be back here next week, with lots more goodies from AmericasMart to share here!