11 Songs about Paper & Print

After writing a recent blog-post about the significant role of print and paper in our culture, I started thinking about how that has to show up in our popular music as well. And since blog-posts love to take the form of lists, why not take a look at how print, paper, and ink have been portrayed in popular song…

Paperback Writer – The Beatles (1966)

Seems appropriate to start the list with a classic from pop music’s royalty. The paperback novel emerged in it’s mass market format in the 1930s, and quickly became the affordable, accessible way for works both great and less than great to reach new mass markets of readers. Lennon & McCartney show a man desperate to land a job as just such an author. 1000 pages? That’s one thick paperback.

If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot (1970)

Sticking with the theme of a paperback novel, the simile in Lightfoot’s ode to lost love is a comparison between his thoughts and a book, “the kind the drug stores sell.” The hero, the broken heart, the ending that’s “just too hard to take.” A ton of romance novels have carried that plot-line over the years.

Everyday I Write the Book – Elvis Costello (1983)

The best example I know of a song trying to be a book – Costello describes his love affairs ups and downs as chapters, paragraphs, seeing himself as a man with a mission in “two or three editions.” He knows that regardless of how the affair plays out, he will “still own the film rights and be working on the sequel.”

Paper Roses – Marie Osmond (1973)

Well, originally is was Anita Bryant who had a hit with this tune. But a very young Osmond, well before Weight Watchers and Dancing With the Stars, sang about a false love with a comparison between real roses and ones made of paper. Let’s make it clear, however, paper roses last longer than the real thing, are also biodegradable, and require no pesticides to produce. No reason to go around knocking paper roses!

Centerfold – The J. Geils Band (1982)

An iconic publishing image, the centerfold of a magazine was spotlighted in this 80’s song about a young man discovering his high school homeroom angel in a porn magazine.

Black and White – Three Dog Night (1972)

A hit in 1972 for Three Dog Night, the song uses the image of ink on paper to flesh out their metaphor of racial equality and harmony. Interestingly enough, the song was first written in 1954 in response to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling desegregating public schools. The original verse: “Their robes were black, Their heads were white, The schoolhouse doors were closed so tight. Nine judges all set down their names, To end the years and years of shame.” Pretty cool, huh?

Yesterday’s Papers – The Rolling Stones (1967)

A lesser known Stones ballad compares a fading love affair to old newspapers. A clear illustration of how print and the daily newspaper for many years were central to our culture: “Every day means the turn of a page / Yesterday’s papers are such bad news / Same thing applies to me and you.”

Want Ads – Honey Cone (1971)

A big hit in the early 70s, long before match.com, Tindr or Grindr. This song, redone by Taylor Dayne in the 90s, is about a time not so long ago when trying to find a match by running an ad in the classified section of the newspaper was a novel approach. “He’s been lying… I’m going to the Evening News.”

Signs – The Five Man Electrical Band (1971)

A big, angry protest song from the early 70s, this tune decries the exclusion and intolerance of society for the “long-haired, freaky people.” The printed signs… “blocking up the scenery, breaking my mind.”

Paper and Ink – Tracy Chapman (2000)

Chapman’s fifth album reminds us how print can be valued – especially when printing money.

Legal Tender – The B-52’s (1983)

When print goes bad: the B-52s gave us what is arguably the best dance song ever about a federal crime. Jelly jars and heavy equipment, the B’s were in the basement learning to print.

Any songs yet about a Kindle or iPad? I don’t know, but I’m sure there soon will be. I purposely didn’t include any songs here about letters or mail – there seem to be enough good titles on that topic to merit a future blog-post.

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

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Printing 101: What is Spot or Two-Color Printing?

Mixing pure inks to create a PMS color

Too often as printers, we assume everyone else understands the basics of print technology. Full color, spot color, process, digital, offset, thermography, letterpress, wide format… there are many paths to create a beautiful and effective printed product – decisions have to be made about which path is the best to take. The type of printing you need for your project should take into account many factors: budget, branding concerns, time constraints, intended use, and essentially the overall scope of your marketing plan. It becomes important that you have a printer you can communicate with freely and clearly. Your printer should be able to explain your options clearly. One basic topic in looking at the options for color printing is to understand what is meant by spot colors vs. full color.

Spot color refers to color generated in offset printing by a single ink. That ink could be a “pure” color or mixed according to a formula. Process, or 4-color printing, uses four spot colors to generate a full-color gamut: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). Some more advanced processes use six spot colors, adding Orange and Green to provide an even larger gamut. This is called hexachromatic process printing, or CMYKOG. At times, however, you may want to print using just one or two colors – for example let’s say blue and black. This is a classic example of two color printing.

Pantone is clearly the authority on color – a provider of color systems and leading technology for accurate communication of color. The Pantone Matching System has long been the standard for defining “spot colors.” If you have a blue lion in your logo, you want that lion to always appear in the same shade of blue – not sky blue on your letterhead, royal blue on an employee’s shirt and some shade of purple on the website. The PMS system is a way to standardize that color for the printing process, and your printer can show you swatches to select the PMS number that you can then define as an integral part of your brand. Also keep in mind that with these two colors, you can enhance the design of your piece by using “screens” or tints of those colors. 50% of black gives gray; a percentage of the PMS blue will provide varying shades as well. With a good design, a two-color printed piece can have much depth and style. (Pantone is a rich resource for all topics on color. Check out which color they chose Color of the Year for 2012.)

Any PMS color, printed from a single ink, can also be translated into the closest CMYK match. Your blue lion can be printed by the 4-color process method when you choose to create a full color piece. There will be a slight variation in the shade or hue of the blue, however – no PMS to CMYK conversion is exact. In most cases, the difference is tolerable or even unoticeable, but with a few colors the shift is more dramatic. The CMYK gamut can not replicate all colors visible to the human eye. Again, your printer can show you side-by-side swatches of what the PMS color will look like once converted to CMYK. Some brands are so specific about their color that they budget for 5-color offset print jobs where full color printing is needed, but they are willing to pay for another pass to get the PMS color of that lion exactly right every time.

Have the discussion with your printer to learn the process they are using to produce your print materials. They can explain about color gamuts, PMS color matches, and even color psychology and selection. You will also want to translate these colors for other uses such as your website or online marketing. There you will need web-safe color matches that seek to maintain an accurate match for your blue lion on the web as well. You will be in good hands with a printer who can help you with both the artistic, creative process and the technical concerns of production.

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

There’s Something About Paper. Or, about that pdf diploma…

We love technology, but paper is still important

We love technology – the instantaneous flow of information and data, the interconnectedness of people who would never otherwise meet, the crowd-sourcing of digital solutions. In our line of work, we have marveled at the seismic shift in the ease and innovation of creating graphics and images, the global opportunities that opened when file transfers and commerce moved online, and the digital transition from plates and darkroom photo processing to computerized pdf workflows. It all makes for an exciting age in which to live. Technology has quickly, and not always painlessly, transformed the print industry from one about ink and paper into one of interactive communication, new media and data interpretation. And yet…. there’s just something about paper.

At the heart of this human love for paper is the physical, solid, stackable nature of the thing. It is organic. It has weight. You can hold it in your hand and point to the truth – “See? It’s right there in black and white.” Or color. Whether it is centuries of reliance on the physicality of having the “written word” in your hand, or whether it is something more primal, paper and printing hold a powerful place in our psyche. Think about it: your birth certificate, your child’s first crayon drawings from school, report cards, your ticket stub from a favorite concert, a treasured valentine or love letter, a “welcome home” sign, a sketch of a great idea, an autograph of your hero. At all the important, memorable moments of your life, paper has played a central role. It is usually the means by which you remember and treasure those events – unplugged.

Today, technology is clearly altering some of that relationship. The recent bankruptcy of Kodak seems to many of us who grew up in the last half of the twentieth century to be unthinkable. Yet they have announced they are going out of the film business. The woes of the USPS are a result of email and digital communications usurping the role of snail mail. Newpapers and magazines are struggling with the transition from paper to online versions. But paper still carries the word and image of our culture in ways that electronic media is not yet able to – by its very physical nature and our historic appreciation for its reliable, tactile properties. It is still capable of putting your message right into someone’s hands regardless of internet providers or the accessibility of a wifi signal.

Still not convinced? Watch this great video from Domtar’s “Paper because…” initiative that spotlights the contradiction between students who at first say they want to live in a paperless world – until they are told their diplomas will be handed out in pdf format.

An electronic diploma would convince most all students that paper has a clear place in our lives and futures. Maybe the tech future will gradually change this romantic attachment we have to the beauty and functionality of paper, but I doubt it will erase it anytime soon.

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

If You Have The Right Printer, You Have Your Marketing Consultant

Printers are Communications and Marketing Experts

Running a small business demands expertise in many, many divergent fields. You must excel at finance, employee relations, marketing, sales, and of course the specifics of the type of business you went into in the first place. In a large corporation, each duty or specialty is handled by an expert in that profession – or an entire heirarchy of experts: production, sales, marketing, human resources, R & D. As a small business owner, that’s all on you. Technology is only making that landscape even more challenging, daily.

To bring in help or advice on any of these areas is costly and risky. When it comes to marketing, however, your best resource is right at hand. And – this is by far the best part – it is FREE! If you have the right printer, you already have a highly trained marketing consultant who knows print, branding, direct mail, web strategies, social media and has years of experience in both high and low tech marketing approaches that work for businesses just like yours. The most assuring part of this partnership for you is that the print/communications company only succeeds when your marketing succeeds! Start taking advantage of this asset – the print industry itself has had to reinvent itself in this new high tech economy. They know what works.

Even if you have a background in marketing, the rules of the game over the past 10 years have changed DRASTICALLY. (Check out this amazing and exhaustive infographic on the History of Marketing.) The marketing success that got you and your small business to where it is today will most likely not take you to future success in the emerging economy and IT world. Do you have the time and resources to become an expert in web design, SEO (search engine optimization), interactive online marketing, web metrics or analytics, to position your operation to embrace the new and as yet unknown technoligies that are right over the horizon? In most cases, the answer is no – and unless your business IS marketing, you should not have to. Turn to your printer for help.

The term “printer” is misleading. Today, printers do far more than put ink on paper. They have become marketing and communications specialists, and they are your closest and most knowledgeable sources for consulting with you on your overall marketing strategy. A good printer will understand your budget, your marketing goals and be able to suggest many options for creating results: integrated marketing strategies, direct mail, targeted variable data printing, promotional products, signage, branding, website development and e-commerce, social media marketing techniques, and unique design ideas. Discuss with them your target audience, who your consumer is, what your mission and specific goals are for the year. These are the facts your sales rep needs to recommend specific marketing strategies that you can use to translate into profit and customer recognition of your brand and your work. So the question is: why drain your energy trying to learn the new world of marketing on TOP of running your business when you already have a marketing consultant waiting to talk with you?

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

We Love Paper: 4 Favorites and a Few Resource Tips

We love paper. Its feel, smell, texture, weight. Selecting the right paper for a print project is an important part of the design of any printed piece. We understand that most designers and print buyers are not experts on paper, nor do they have the time to become one! They, therefore, rely on a good relationship with their printer to make smart paper selections. It can get confusing: matte, glossy, semi-gloss, premium, UV coating, lamination, caliper, grain direction, brightness, opacity. Then there’s all the information about recyclable content, chain of custody and other green concerns. Throw in the chemistry involved when ink or toner hits the paper and you encounter terms like dot gain, absorbency, coating, rasterization. A lot of science lives behind the manufacture of paper and the printing process itself. So how do you begin to choose the right paper for your job in the face of so many choices? Paper choices and the confusing selection available

Let’s start with a wide view, by looking at a few manufacturers of quality lines of paper for print. Below are a few of our favorites – papers that are affordable, yet offer top quality performance. They all come in offerings of varied finishes, grades, weights, colors and are optimized for both press and digital printing.

Sappi Flo – an industry standard print paper at an affordable price. High quality and environmentally sustainable. (Sappi also produces a hilarious online video series about the insanity in a local print shop called “Off Register.” Well worth checking out!)

Domtar Cougar – a great environmental choice, Cougar papers offer vibrant color contrast, smoothness and high quality.

Classic from Neenah – the Classic line from Neenah, aptly named, offers best-in-class quality, performance, compatibility and availability. The family includes Classic Crest, Classic Columns, Classic Cotton, Classic Laid and Classic Linen.

Mohawk – fine paper and envelopes, engineered for brilliant color, runability and detailed images.

There are five basic grades of paper: bond, offset or uncoated book, coated book, text, and cover. Within each of these grades are varieties of content, appearance, end use, original purpose, grain direction, finish, opacity, brightness… you get the idea. You have a LOT of choices. And in the realm of specialty papers, there are even more. With your printer’s help, you can narrow down what selection will work best for your project and budget. All major paper manufacturers are happy to supply samples, information and guidance on paper purchases.

In the process of browsing for the right paper, you might get curious about some terms you run across, such as sizing (a solution added to paper pulp to make it less absorbent), brightness (the percentage of a wavelength of blue light that paper reflects), caliper (the thickness of a sheet of paper, measured in 1/1000ths of an inch and referred to as point size), or acid free (paper with no acid, they have a pH higher than 7 and alkaline properties to resist aging). For a great detailed glossary of all things paper, check out the Glatfelter site. They are a global provider of specialty print papers. Or call us. As mentioned earlier… we love paper.

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Color Makes Sense: On-Demand Color Printing

People pay more attention to marketing in color. It’s just a fact. And in the past, the cost of high quality color printing could be a deterrent to many firms with a limited marketing budget. Full color print was only cost effective for long press runs of large quantities. Those days are over. New digital print technology has risen to meet the need for short run, on-demand, variable printing that fits most anyone’s marketing budget. Targeted, personalized mailings working in concert with web and email outreach have truly revolutionized marketing and the resulting ROI for all budgets and enterprises. Understanding some basics about color printing techniques will help you make the best choices in print buying.

CMYK printing on a 4-color offset press

Color Printing: The Bright Way to Do It

Offset printing is still the choice for print in large quantities, or on very large press sheets. Offset presses maintain very high quality in image reproduction and can match true PMS or spot colors with great accuracy. Turnaround time is generally longer, allowing for press set-up and for the finished product to dry before finishing.

The advantages of digital printing lie in fulfilling the need for quick, personalized prints in smaller quantities at an affordable price. The high quality of digital printing has grown so rapidly in the past years that it is often indistinguishable from offset. It also requires no drying time before cutting, folding or otherwise finishing like offset printing does, if time is of the utmost importance. A couple of drawbacks to digital printing are some inexact matches for PMS colors and slight shifting of position in paper feeding over the course of the run. These issues are, however, being addressed to the point that they may be a thing of the past as digital technology progresses.

Printing revolutionized the world by the 17th Century
Wooden-framed 17th century printing presses were replaced by the early 1800s with iron-framed presses.

Check out our previous blog posts relating to both the technical and design aspects of the power of color printing:

Color Printing 101: The RGB and CMYK Gamuts

Print: the Heart of Integrated Marketing Campaigns

Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Year is Tangerine Tango

The Psychology of Color: What Do Colors “Mean”?

What is a “moiré”?


ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Setting Yourself Apart: Harnessing the Power of the Hand Written Note

We are connected today in every way possible – smart phones, texts, tweets, phone calls, mobile GPS, even blogs. But can you remember the last hand written note or card you received? I bet you can! And that is important – it shows the powerful impact of a handwritten note. They always find their way to the top of the mail that is piling up on your desk. The lost art of hand written notes is a powerful communication tool

Taking time to do hand written notes may be a struggle, but the benefits can be huge. As we all know in this challenging economy we are all looking for something that makes us stand out. This small inexpensive detail will speak volumes. A note to say thank you for a great meeting, happy birthday or even just thanks for your time shows that you are ready to give clients the personal service that they are so hungry for. They can act as a relationship builder or the stepping stone to your next order from your client.

Personalized note paper or stationery is a smart choice once you get into the habit of note writing. Having the paper and envelopes at your work station will save time and remind you to write a note when the time is right. They should be branded with your company look and feel, including your contact information

How ever you plan to use this powerful tool, just remember to be consistent. Keep a roll of stamps with you. Write the notes while conversations are fresh on your mind or their last order just shipped out the door. This is one time that you can keep “time on your side” by mailing when you are still fresh in the minds of your clients. And if you are really feeling ambitious, send all your customers a note wishing them a Happy Valentine’s Day, or even just “Thanks for being a great Customer.”

The power of this secret weapon lies in it’s sincerity. In a world that is often OVER-connected, a personalized, hand written note speaks louder than any digital communication can. Receiving the note in the mail is an actual physical interaction – something not yet possible online. Read more at these links about the power of hand written notes and the lost art of note writing. Sometimes, low tech is still the best choice.


ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

The Power of Design: the Madrid 2020 Olympic Logo Controversy

Good intentions – bad results. Olympic logos seem to keep going offtrack. Remember the London 2012 controversy? Well the latest logo disaster getting lots of attention online comes from Madrid’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. An attempt to represent both the Olympic rings, an architectural landmark in Madrid and the mark “M20” somehow turned into a childish looking brand symbol that seems to move the games from 2020 to 20020! Disaster – but an eloquent lesson in the power of design, both good and not so good.

Logo of the Madrid 2020 Olympic aspirations
2020... or 20020?

Above is the controversial logo. To many people, that first, all-important impression is of a chopped off symbol that seems to be a typo, moving the 2020 games into the future by about 18,000 years! A look at the original design below will help illustrate where things went off track here.

Art student's original design, via www.elmundo.es

The original idea was created by a 22-year-old student named Luis Peiret. What came to appear as “20020” was originally “M20.” However the Madrid-based advertising agency Tapsa made some confusing changes which to many derailed their branding efforts. When the initial response to such a design is so clear, you have to wonder why the design firm did not see these problems in advance, or if seen why they decided they would not overshadow their purpose.

A logo that needs to come with an explanation defeats the purpose of good design. In this instance, the arches in the design represent a historical landmark in Madrid, the colors represent the Olympic colors – however black was exhanged for purple (?) A Spanish online poll found 81% of people said they did not like the logo. Pieret’s comment: “This is not my logo.” Ouch.

The old saying is that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Perhaps this is a good example of how too many well-intentioned design authorities produced a confused, ineffective brand result. If you ever wonder about the power and importance of good design, this controversy over the logo could potentially hurt Madrid’s chances to host the Olympic Games – a high price to pay for a questionable design decision.

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.