Judy Schulz / AIGA Fellow

Judy Schulz was recently honored by the American Institute of Graphics Arts with the distinguished title of AIGA Fellow. As Olmsted-Kirk’s vice president of sales promotion and marketing, Judy has provided the Texas design community with support and counsel through her vast knowledge of printing, design and paper, along with her considerable charm, wit and energy. As both a paper professional and a valued consultant to graphic designers throughout south Texas, we couldn’t imagine anyone better to comment on the state of print design today. We spoke with her as she was making final arrangements for this year’s AIGA Austin Design Ranch on the Guadalupe River in Hunt, Texas.

Design Print Impact: Judy, what’s your view of what’s happening in the printing industry these days?

Judy Schulz: Well, it’s actually really exciting. There is a lot going on, and print definitely is coming back. We’re having a really good year and we’re seeing many designers working on high-end campaigns. There’s a desire to create materials that stand out and designers are being really creative in the way they make their print work highly tactile. They are using both print and papers in ways that are rich, soft and comfortable – the way big, thick elegant coffee table books make you feel.

Major brands are certainly doing a lot of print today, especially the kind with high-fidelity product and image photography that needs a premium smooth text and cover like Astrolite. In-house design teams at the brands are doing some really great work…but actually, there’s great print design happening at all levels. Paper is back.

DPI: Any thoughts on what’s behind the renewed interest?

JS: Well, one side of it is the need to get noticed. And the other is a strong desire for people to create things that have lasting value. There’s a big interest on the part of designers in discovering and practicing the art of craft. We love to make things that are beautiful and enduring.  That is a big theme for this year’s Design Ranch, in fact.

Printed material has a huge appeal for younger designers. So many have grown up in the digital world that when they see beautiful papers with creative bindings that have been well-printed, they get so excited. It’s why I’m thrilled to see Monadnock putting their effort behind the DPI campaign. Young designers really want to practice that level of print design, but they need to learn more about the discipline, and the resources to do so aren’t easy to find.

DPI: So are the designers doing great things in print older veterans, or young guns that are new to the game?

JS: It’s a combination. For one, the major brands are certainly doing a lot of print today, especially the kind with high-fidelity product and image photography that needs a premium smooth text and cover like Astrolite. The in-house design teams at the brands are doing some really great work, like Meggan Webber and Andrew Lopez at the Livestrong Foundation. But actually, there’s great print design happening at all levels. Paper is back.

DPI: So how can the Design Print Impact initiative be of help to the industry?

JS: Younger designers need to learn about preparing their designs for print. Digital design is just as complicated, but they see the result of changes immediately. They can also make corrections if there are any glitches. Inexperienced designers don’t understand even simple principles, like putting art for die-stamping on a separate layer. As a result, there’s a big burden on the printers to fix things. I’d love to see paper companies returning to the educational pieces that were done before. But it would work better if it were done in bite-sized pieces. Perhaps the DPI campaign can help fill that void.

Younger designers should also learn about all of the capabilities at their disposal at the printers. The designers who are doing the best work have a real eye for it, but most of them have also been mentored. Unfortunately, some designers get really successful early and they move on to their own firms without the benefit of learning the ins and outs of print. Helping them connect with knowledgeable folks would be nice. Of course, we do a lot of that kind of education here at Olmsted-Kirk.

DPI: Yes, O-K  is well known for your entire promotional effort. Has it paid off?

JS: Definitely. We’re doing great and premium paper has been a big part of it. I predict that paper promotion will become even more important in the future and the success we’re having will spread across the country.

DPI: Cool. Finally, do you have any advice for younger designers interested in print design?

JS: Just do your best to learn what makes things great and don’t second guess yourself when someone suggests a way to cut corners. It’s important that you find suppliers and products that you can always trust to do and be the very best.

Website: okpaper.com

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