03. Craft shops getting digital

Kastaar used a Vandercook proofing press to print posters like this for a combined analogue/digital campaign

The letterpress revival of the 2010s has quickly become a hipster cliché. But handcrafted printing techniques aren’t just about looking back to the past, but are being used in campaigns that combine the best of analogue and digital.

Kastaar is a graphic design studio-cum-print shop in Antwerp, Belgium that specialises in rescuing abandoned old printers and recently won a European Design Award. “We’re always looking for ways to combine wood type with the latest new tech like 3D printing, CNC and laser-cutting,” explains Stoffel Van Der Bergh, who runs the studio with An Eisendrath. “We don’t want people to think of wood type as something from the past, but something that’s very much part of the modern digital world.”

So for instance, Kastaar dragged a Vandercook proofing press to Integrated, Antwerp’s design conference, and offered to print posters for attendees based on the best tweets from the event. They overlaid two quotes per poster in a way that each would be revealed if you closed one eye when wearing red-blue 3D glasses. This innovative campaign blew up on social media, and acted as a great example of how to engage people digitally via vintage printing techniques.

04. Interactive print

Vespa asked 900lbs of Creative to create an AR experience that works in conjunction with a print magazine ad

In an era where consumers are spending more and more of their time interacting online, static designs are losing their appeal. So print is having to get more interesting and eye-catching to compete.

At the simplest level, we’re seeing more and more use of foil, spot varnish and other textures to grab the attention and engage people’s senses. Going beyond that, more and more print campaigns are harnessing the power of augmented reality (AR) technologies.

Examples include the Vespa print ad by 900lbs of Creative which let readers create their own customised scooter using AR; and Volkswagen’s billboard ad which, when viewed through an app on your phone, showed its new car bursting out of the billboard in a spectacular fashion.

A few years back, there was a similar craze for integrating physical tech into print ads, such as the print ad for NIVEA featuring a miniature solar panel to power your phone at the beach. That seems to have died down recently, no doubt because it’s just too expensive. But we may it re-emerge soon, thanks to the ongoing development of “next generation paper”, which is being described as a print-and-digital hybrid.