The art of print by Hannah El-Boghdady

The art of print

By Hannah El-Boghdady

Our production manager Hannah El-Boghdady explores how, even in the digital age, an ancient medium keeps offering dazzling new possibilities to us and our clients…

There’s always a mix of nervous anticipation and pure excitement when we’re waiting for a job to come back from the printers. Like unwrapping a present, the team gather round to unveil the new printed creation.

It’s a simple combination of paper and ink that creates this thrill and suspense. It’s that same combination of paper and ink that comes together to make something that connects on so many different levels with the person holding it, offering something more than just a message. It’s an intimate exchange, even if it’s just a sheet of paper and an envelope.

As a forward-thinking design agency, it’s crucial that Human After All continues to experiment with new innovations. This is exactly how we approach print, striving to create printed products that will capture our clients’ imagination as well as our own.

Human After All produces a whole range of printed collateral, from tickets and books to our own in-house magazine Weapons of Reason.

As with many magazines, it’s important to us that Weapons of Reason is printed rather than simply existing in digital form. Being able to design and articulate the message of the magazine through a physical object emphasises its voice and builds a stronger bond between the audience and the brand. Giving our audience a physical publication provides an intimacy that only the right paper, ink and binding will create.

This kind of publishing won’t be thrown away, but cherished and kept. This is what we want to achieve with everything we create and print: something so beautiful it becomes part of someone’s own personal belongings.

BAFTA’s golden tickets

One of our most rewarding projects has been the BAFTA Film and TV Campaign. BAFTA wanted a campaign that captured the timeless glamour and anticipation of its prestigious annual awards, and both the tickets and brochure had to express this.

To begin with, the design team created the layout of the ticket wallets. These were comprised of twin folds, opening to both the left and right, and die-cut pockets to house the ceremony ticket and menu. These pockets may seem like a small detail, but they were key to bringing the whole package together: it literally represented the night unfolding, from parking and canapes, to awards and dinner, to the after-party.

We wanted the tickets to echo the guests’ journey of the evening and contribute to the magic of the event. To do this and ensure the design team’s vision was executed to the highest standard, it was also very important to keep a strong relationship with our printers. This freed us to be experimental. The best piece of advice when printing your own material? Test what you’re doing, whether it’s special ink and paper combinations, finishes or production mock-ups.

Numerous tests were conducted to analyse how our chosen ink would work on the coloured papers we wanted to use - and they proved the importance of testing. Even though we were using gold ink, the coloured paper diluted the colour, making it really murky on the darker paper.

If we hadn’t tested this before the final print run, we’d have been in big trouble - and probably too traumatised to ever go near that ink again! Instead, we had time to experiment further and tweak the ink. The second batch of tests came back and worked perfectly. We were back in the game.

An element that added big impact to the tickets was the foiling. This is a perfect example of how a print finish can complement the design and how design can enrich the effectiveness of the print finish. The mixture of gold foil and contrasting design complemented and balanced each other, elevating the tickets and making them feel extra special.

Passion for paper

Paper is an extremely important factor for all of our jobs. The paper can have a huge impact on the design and can change the entire feel of a piece, which makes finding the right paper both a top priority and a passion for us.

Many techniques can also be used to take paper to the next level and create a whole range of textures, something we experimented with on the First Shot booklet we created for Jameson. This is one of my favourite projects.

We used a twill embossing and included gatefolds on the cover, giving the book an intricate texture and making it feel very high-end. Most of the time, these small details are what create the greatest effect on a publication, adding a subtle but unmissable sophistication to its look and feel .

Another great printed project that Human After All created was the Facebook wooden phones. Housing a Facebook infographic which unfolded like a concertina, the two covers were made out of wood etched with a smartphone design. I love this job because it demonstrates how different materials can be incorporated and merged to make something new.

Pushing the envelope

We’re currently trying to create the same excitement with the new job I’m working on. The challenge is to push the boundaries a little bit more. We’re experimenting with a range of finishes, such as scratch-and-sniff ink, pop-ups, die-cutting and roll-folds.

We always consider why we’re including these finishes. There’s a danger of going overboard and using a finish just for the sake of it, so it has complement the design and add something to the publication rather than simply being a novelty.

The most important factor, always, is that the needs of the client are met. It’s our job to make sure that whatever we print gives off the right personality and impression. It’s equally as important that the printed product shows off our designs to look the best they can on the printed page.

Even as technology evolves in the 21st century, print continues to offer unique possibilities to affect us and achieve wonders that are hard to match digitally. It’s for this reason that we champion print - and always will.