Painting with paper

Can your print project be interactive? It can when you spec a colored paper that catches the eye and invites the touch. Here’s how to get the most out of these special stocks.

As graphics professionals, we would do well to acknowledge a truism that the marketing experts at mass-retailers have known for years: People buy with their eyes. And nothing appeals to the visual sense more than color.

So it’s good news for us that paper mills are introducing new colored sheets that will make even the most jaded reader linger over your project. Many of these new colors tie into national trends in fashion and home decorating.

One of the hottest of these trends is related to people’s yearning for a return to the home. (Whether it’s the chicken or the egg that’s at fault, the desire for a renewal of the home seems to happen whenever Republicans come into the White House.)

In any case, mills are focusing on using earth-tone pigments in their pulps, especially for uncoated papers. Strathmore, for example, makes a slateblue paper that manages to appear warm and accessible, even though it’s on the cold side of the palette. GeorgiaPacific’s brick browns and rich beiges evoke the coziness of the hearth.

Some of these colors are softened even further with an applied texture. Neenah Paper’s Columns line, for example, is manufactured with alternating concave and convex ridges running vertically through the sheet. One especially effective color in this line is a black that literally feels soft to the touch and is also easy on the eyes.

Screaming fluorescents aren’t just for quick-copy jobs and school projects; they’re as popular as they’ve ever been. Foil-stamping holds its own against a neon-blue background on the left page of this spread from Wausau’s Astrobrights promo. The right-hand page, surprisingly, is printed on Stardust White, a sheet with brightly colored speckles throughout. The page was printed in four-color process using fluorescent inks and a spot varnish.

On the other end of the scale, bright color still sells, too, just as it did during the last Republican reign, almost two decades ago. (Remember Nancy Reagan Red?) Tapping into this trend is Wausau Papers’ Astrobrights line, a collection of fluorescent papers so bright that they almost make a reader reach for sunglasses.

Sometimes, to attract attention, it’s more effective to whisper than to shout. For this reason, many mills are offering more muted colors. Green Field Paper Co., for example, makes organic-cotton sheets from naturally colored cotton. Coyote Brown and Sage Green have no color additives-their hues come from the cotton bolls themselves.

Another way that mills add muted color is with flecks of material in the paper pulp itself. Green Field’s Junk Mail, for example, gets its flecks from ground-up pieces of that stuff that usually ends up in your trash at home. Neptune by Le Desktop gets its speckles from seaweed harvested from the weedchoked canals of Venice. Golf Paper, also by Le Desktop, derives its flecks from grass clippings collected from golf courses.