Last week I joined some of my fellow Nashville-area designers on a day trip to the Domtar Paper Mill in Hawesville, Kentucky. With our guide, genial Domtar regional rep Jason Abernathy, we got a first-hand look at how paper is made. In a nutshell, I was blown away. This humongous facility on the Ohio River operates 24/7, producing a giant (and I mean giant) roll of paper about every 20 minutes. Domtar prides themselves on their sustainable practices, from forestry all the way through the milling process, so it was an inspiring and fascinating day.
I happen to be something of a paper connoisseur. I love everything about the stuff, from the look, to the texture, to the feel of it between my fingers. In fact, in just a couple of feels I can usually give you the name of the paper in question. So I listen with interest to the debate as to whether paper is “going away.” It’s not. But, like the vinyl record, paper is slowly but surely being relegated to a more rarefied, specialized place.
With people spending their time online, print media – newspapers and magazines – have suffered through some lean times. At the same time, the advertising industry has moved away from “push marketing” with print ads to digital’s more immediate, consumer-controlled approach.
Here at Cronin Creative, paper continues to play an integral role. We do spend a lot of time in the digital realm, designing websites, digital ads, etc., but we understand that paper still has its place, and that the one-two punch of online and printed materials can deliver a formidable marketing wallop.
As a paper person, I’ll often print out an online story just to read from a sheet I can hold in my hand. Paper slows us down a bit and allows us to be truly attentive to what we’re reading. It works on the writing side as well. Studies show that students retain more when they write on paper. And there’s a big – some would say spiritual – difference between writing in a journal and typing on a keyboard. There just is.
Of course, the real beauty of paper is all about the drawing, the essay, the artfully folded airplane – all the wonderful, creative things we can do with it. With that in mind, I’ll leave you with this good advice from William Wordsworth.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”