Generally speaking books on special print processes fall into one of two categories. The first showcases the processes but keeps the secrets of the practicalities to itself—perpetuating the irritating myth that average ideas can be transformed into good design by the use of one special process and some fancy stock.
The second type is the PRODUCTION MANUAL, (aimed at Steve from the print room) digitally printed on 60 gsm rubbish that might have an 8 page colour section in the middle if you are lucky.
This rather lovely book graced our desks at the end of last week and falls nicely between the two, almost literally —one half of the book is concerned with the purely practical side of experimental print finishes and the other is a showcase for those processes. Designed to function as an 'Encyclopedia of Experimental Print Finishing', the technical side splits the content into Printing and Varnishing, Foil Lamination, Embossing, Cutting and Edge Finishing—all of which are explained in detail and given an iTunes-style 'star' rating for cost.
What makes the book even more appealing from a designer's perspective is that samples in the showcase half of the book are all individually created pieces of work (some better than others) by luminaries such as Antoine + Manuel, Hort and Pixelgarten.
We don't even want to think of the production costs of a book that displays over thirty print processes—not to mention the extra ones that are part of the book's design, but we assume that the £60+ price tag takes care of that. The design of the book itself is a little hit-and-miss, we love the split content but it's let down a little by the reference samples being spiral bound— and also by the suspect use of flecked holographic board for the cover. In short, it doesn't really stand up as a piece of design in its own right, but it's a nice concept and probably a useful tool.
This review is interesting because it focuses on the design of a book that is about print finishes which you would expect to receive from a printer. The criticism here highlights the inappropriate uses of finishes and how they can highlight flaws within design. I now realise that it is important to remember that not all design work needs fancy print finishes, in fact, good design probably doesn't need it at all. I want to learn more about print finishes because they are such and important part of the design process, rather than an after thought. I am going to look for some more information about finishes and hopefully feel better informed by the end of this module.