Print Isn’t Dead. It Won’t Be Anytime Soon Either.
The rise of digital media over the past few decades has led many to declare that print is dead. But, I truly believe print is far from dead. In fact, I think it offers such a unique experience that digital formats simply can’t replicate and maybe never will.
First off, you can’t deny that there is something special about holding a physical print piece in your hands, feeling the weight of it, and flipping through the pages. As a creative, I’ve always appreciated the artistry and creativity that goes into print design – from the binding techniques, to the paper selection, to the layout and typography. Print provides an amazing canvas for photographers, illustrators, and graphic designers to flex.
There are also agencies that specialize solely in direct mail and print campaigns. If print was dead, this wouldn’t be a thing at all. This is proof that despite the digital age, print has some serious staying power.
While some view print as limiting in terms of creativity compared to the endless possibilities of digital, I see it as an opportunity for experimentation. The “constraints” of working within paper and ink boundaries spur innovation. There are brands that use tactile print catalogs delivered by direct mail because it makes a statement and forges an emotional connection beyond what digital media can offer.
Looking through a beautifully printed book or magazine engages the senses in a way that scrolling on a device just doesn’t. There’s even research that shows print provides more focused reading comprehension and retention. The photography pops from the paper. The words feel purposefully placed. There’s a visceral, nostalgic appeal to print that taps into memories and aesthetics from years past.
Statistics back the endurance of print – in 2021, print book sales increased nearly 10% over the year before. Many magazines continue prioritizing their print editions and circulation numbers remain strong.
As vintage culture and styles continue to thrive, leveraging print introduces a classic medium to new generations. Print allows small batches, exclusive issues, and collectible runs – perfect for building hype. The best print ads, letterpress stationery, and editorial design from past eras inspire what’s possible. Iconic print pieces become references still discussed today.
Beyond nostalgia, the expansive archives of printed matter offer a wealth of inspiration. The history of print design over decades past informs new work and pushes the medium forward while respecting its roots. Vintage printed materials supply endless typography, color palettes, layouts, and photographic styles to spark new creative directions.
At Defy, we have an archive of print material that we often turn to for inspiration on projects that end up living in a digital format. If print is still inspiring us today, it can’t be dead. If you ask me, it’s very much alive and well…
By Nik Greenblatt, Founder and Chief Creative Officer