I have been extremely fortunate to have a job that survived through the tumultuous economic storm. 2009 had its ups and downs. While I had the pleasure of working on a couple of extremely unique, high-quality, beautiful pieces for Sony this year (see http://tinyurl.com/yemkr8t), I also noticed a definite decrease in the number of print projects that crossed our doorstep at MORRIS.
Lately, it feels like I’m riding a wave that is repeatedly cresting and dipping. Since many of our Clients typically hire us to create cross-media campaigns, in my position as the Print Production Manager at MORRIS, its feast or famine, as we design multiple pieces—from postcards to posters to brochures and collateral to e-blasts, websites, microsites, and various other interactive items—most of them due within a short period of the other. I’m lucky to work for an agency that views branding from a holistic perspective, and understands the importance of consistency across various media touch points. Print, which is both agency and Client driven, is an integral part of those messages. Those pieces act in unison to deliver our Clients marketing messages to their consumers.
Recently, I’ve started thinking about the focus on digital, its effects on our behaviors, and the hypothesis that eventually, print will become obsolete. While at times it feels like our society is heading that direction, I can’t REALLY imagine a life without printed materials and thankfully, I’m pretty sure there’s a good majority of the population who agree.
No doubt, our technological world has created new efficiencies, expanded our horizons, and made it easier than ever to connect with our business associates, friends and loved ones. I’m grateful to live in this day and age, where there are so many amazing opportunities online. There are pros to this digital age, and without engaging in it, and interacting with it, there are many businesses that are missing out on the conversation, as social media creates more of a mom and pop atmosphere in cyberspace. It has brought brands closer to their consumers, reunited childhood friends, and made communication convenient, no doubt.
But, what about people who RELY on it solely? What about those people whom, instead of calling, use texts as their primary mode of communication? What about the generations to come? How has this digital age effected communication in general? How will our communication skills diminish over time as a result of this convenience? How has it changed our behaviors? It scares me to think about the skills and cultural experiences future generations will be missing out on.
For example, when is the last time you received a handwritten letter or card in the mail? Were you as excited as I, when you received one?
Back in the day—all the way through college—before computers were commonplace in people’s homes, I took incredible pride in the letters I wrote. The more pages the better. The envelopes themselves were works of art. And usually, if I wrote one, it meant I’d get one back. What fabulous anticipation! The truth is, I don’t even keep an address book anymore. And these days, I hate to admit it, but I spend so much time typing my thoughts, instead of writing them, that it’s a Brobdingnangian effort to put pen to paper and just CREATE.
I’m curious. Are there fewer fine artists these days? Has the improvement of design software created purely digital vision? Rarely do I see sketches anymore.
I would argue that our new model has created a diminished effect on “old school” mastery of handwriting and letter writing, possibly even art (which reminds me, I REALLY need to work on those things with my son, who is 5 and completely adept at motoring around a computer, but whose writing and drawing, well… see exhibit A below).
Aka: BReakFasT BaRs, PoT sTickERs RicE Mik and a couple extra letters I can't quite decipher (at least he included a happy little picture of the two of us shopping!)
CAN YOU IMAGINE (??), the world without books? (Where do you suppose I got the word Brobdingnangian from!?!?!)
The familiar feel of uncoated paper is comforting. Curling up with a book and escaping into another world just isn’t the same when you’re reading it off an electronic device. My eyes are bugging out enough after a day in the office. The last thing I want to do is look at a miniature version of my computer screen. One of my favorite things in the world is cuddling up and sharing a story with my son. We interact with each other AND the book. Seeing his reactions to the illustrations and how they relate to what I’m reading makes my day (and sometimes seeing those alligator teeth popping out of the book is necessary to get a point across!).
I think the key here is in finding balance. Like my son, I can hardly imagine a world without computers. And, as individuals, its up to each one of us to determine what is important and what we want to surround ourselves with. For his benefit (and mine too!), I need to work harder on keeping written and artistic traditions alive and on teaching him the value of face-to-face communication. This includes minimizing his time playing video games, showing pride when he handwrites a birthday card to his aunt, and encouraging him when he creates a scribbly, incomprehensible piece of art because all of those things are explicably tied to print, it’s power, its beauty, its place in history, and its presence in our futures.