“A magazine editor, a designer and a printer walk into a bar…”
No, seriously; this really happened. And a curious group of design and business professionals joined them just to see what would happen next.
The occasion was the first international event in Hemlock’s popular Print & a Pint series, a string of after work seminars designed to get people talking about the changing world of ink on paper.
Hemlock President, Richard Kouwenhoven set the tone for the evening by donning a printers apron that likely pre-dates the disco era.
“Our three professions have been meeting like this in bars for centuries,” he began, “And through all the years of changes, one thing does remain constant – the printer buys the beer.” The crowd raised their glasses in appreciation.
Besides the frosty ales, fine local wines, and savory appetizers, the Hemlock Seattle team also served up two captivating speakers to talk about the relevance of print in today’s communications mix.
Georgia Frances King is the editor of Kinfolk Magazine. She shared the authentic philosophy and inspiringly short history of this upstart publication.
“Kinfolk was created by a group of people who didn’treally know what they were doing at the time. They just wanted to share the concept of simplifying their lives, cultivating community and spending more time with friends and family.” King said.
The success of the printed magazine they created has taken the publishing world a bit by surprise, and focusing on the tactile permanence of print has had a lot to do with it.
“We don’t try to recreate the printed publication for tablets, or online,” she continues, “The content is available to read on our website, and along with our popular Instagram feed, the digital community we create really works to encourage people to order the printed piece.”
And order they have. Kinfolk’s circulation is now estimated at over 200,000 readers. Hemlock brings their own philosophy of print craftsmanship to Kinfolk, and also handles distribution and shipping from their Burnaby, BC warehouse, making things even simpler for the folk who produce this refreshing read.
From this specific new era print success story, the evening’s discussion took on a broader philosophical tone, as the mic was passed to Christopher Simmons, designer educator, writer, and principal of San Francisco design office, MINE™.
He opened with a slide showing a ‘digital locket’ (designed to replace the ones people use to carry miniature pictures of loved ones around their necks)
“You can use it to swipe through a series of images, but unlike a ‘classic’ picture locket, if you lose this device, it’s not really that meaningful. You still have the pictures on a hard drive. It’s the imprint of a message onto an object that gives that object meaning.”
Simmons then cruised through a bold and bright series of print examples, from silkscreened campaign posters to a mural montage created for the interior of a restaurant.
“The mural is made with layers of printed posters, torn and layered over again with other graphics. People in the restaurant can’t resist touching it, and the wall is taking on an aged patina in certain areas. With digital, you engineer every outcome – it doesn’t wear and evolve like that.”
The crowd was soon responding with questions and discussion of their own, and conversation turned to the permanence of print in a ‘read and delete’ world.
“When you invest $18 in a magazine, you are going to spend some time with it,” King said, “A Kinfolk magazine sitting on your coffee table says something about who you are.”
Simmons wrapped up the print/digital relevance argument neatly with one last example.
“I got this direct mail letter, in my mailbox, with the little window in the envelope and everything. And the headline was telling me to buy Google Adwords, because they are the most effective way to reach people.” Simmons shook his head as the audience executed a collective face-palm. “It was a piece of art, really.”
If you want to join the discussion, we would love to hear from you. And watch for a Hemlock Print & a Pint event coming to a bar near you.
You never know who might walk in.