Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sustainability challenge: Designing for the right size sheet

5-Trees Brochure
One of the more interesting challenges to being sustainable comes not just from choosing the right papers and inks for each job, but from making the most efficient use of the press sheet (a term which here means "sheets of paper used for said print job"). Paper for offset press comes in a variety of sizes beyond the traditional 8.5 by 11 and 11 by 17 (or A4 and A3 used in Europe—I think those are the names, anyway.), and it's often worth a conversation with the printer prior designing a job to determine the best use of the sheet.

This principle ended up coming into sharp focus while I was creating the brochure for 5-Trees, an environmental compliance documentation company in Burlington MA. The brochure, which highlights the company's expertise in education and compliance documentation for RoHS and other key environmental initiatives, needed a look that carried through the global, all-encompassing theme of their existing branding and bring something more to the table than a typical brochure, while still sending an eco-friendly message. Originally, I had concepted this as an 12 by 8 brochure, which folded to 4 by 8 with a die cut on the front flap. "What the heck are you talking about?" you might say—but trust me, it was nice. A triumph of a piece.

5-Trees Brochure Until the job went to press, and I discovered that the printer had quoted the job on an entirely different print size than what I had specified originally (and referenced an earlier quote for). In the proof stage, I got a call from my print rep mentioning this fact, and telling me that to do the job at the size I needed, they had to buy an entirely different sheet of paper, and not only would that jack up the price $400, it would end up wasting a ton of paper in the long run, as the sheets wouldn't cut quite right for this job.

The annoying part of this is that I didn't learn any of this ahead of time. The not-as-annoying part of it is that I only had to reduce the overall length of the piece by 3/4 of an inch to get it down to a doable size on the original sheet they were using, a change which was barely perceptable to the client, and actually made the brochure more elegant.

The other good news is that for my next big gig, the invitation for the Human Rights Campaign's Annual New England Dinner, I talked to the printer before I even started CONCEPTING the piece, so we were able to find the perfect balance of efficient paper use and aesthetics before I spent time designing the piece.

1 comment:

LeAnnLocher said...

Great post Dani! I couldn't agree more. The more we work in tandem with our printers, the more we can work to design with less waste and with the best processes available.

Another way to maximize press sheet size is when there is going to be trim, create additional pieces that can run in that trim area so that instead of creating paper to recycle, you're creating paper to be used.