A graphic designer’s nostalgia

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone say, “Did you check your mail today?” My hunch is that you’re thinking of your inbox. Physical mail boxes have come down to being associated with unnecessary marketing direct mails, 90% of which directly make their way to the trash can. Being a designer for over 10 years, I do see a major shift in marketing trends where the focus is more on making digital communications more ‘interactive’ than to choose beautiful paper to print glossy, embossed, spot printed graphics that people can touch and feel.

It’s probably within reason to project that by the time our kids grow up to be adults, they’ll not even know what paper feels like. Newspapers are replaced by digital publications. Sustainable packaging solutions include everything from reusable paper made of bee wax, cloth packaging and even banana peels. Handwritten letters are replaced by emojis and books and publications are all available online. But does that mean print will completely loose it’s relevance in the coming years?

Drawing from Projection (William Kentridge) at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Many designers ascribe to the wisdom that “if paper had been invented after the personal computer, it would be hailed as a historical breakthrough.” An article in Fastcode design states an interesting statistical study conducted on about 1200 American adults, above the age of 18 who live a highly ‘online’ life. The study states that about 79% of those adults feel nostalgic about memories in physical forms like notebooks, photos, letters and inscriptions. A lot of us still value and collect handwritten notes given to us by our loved ones and maintain handwritten diaries, sketchbooks and scrapbooks. Even in design, archaic printing methods such as letterpress, screen printing and calligraphy are making a huge comeback for it’s novelty and personalization. This makes it easy to think that print is here to stay, at least until all people who are currently 18+ are alive.

Letterpress Apparatus, Skansen Stockholm

But what about the next generation? Do we really think our kids would ever know the feel of textured paper or how it feels to draw, paint or write on it?

Swipe, scroll, type, tap are words that are quickly replacing writing, drawing, flipping and touching. And, we designers have to keep up with that. Trends of graphic design in the future state that although print may not continue to remain the most important form of communication, it is indeed one of the most integral part of it. The magic words are ‘co-exist’ and ‘co-relate’ when it comes to digital and print media.

While graphic designers of our generation work hard to adapt their skills to a digitized future world, one of the most important things that they can also do is to make sure they don’t let the generation Y lose sense of tactility. If we were to give something to our future generation, let’s give them a bit of nostalgia. So here’s a proposition for today’s graphic designers — Get those kids off the screen and let them get dirty with some inks and let them get a few paper-cuts. Then may be they’ll too have something to be nostalgic about.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Storyteller • Designer • What ‘if’ Enthusiast www.anujasinghal.com

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