Monday, 18 November 2013


Today we had a talk from Matt from GFSmith, this was really interesting and inspiring. It was great to have the chance to look at and feel such high quality finished printed products and appreciate the various stocks available. I have heard of GFSmith before from Leeds Print Festival visits but didn't really know anything about what they did. 

He talked initially about the history of the company as they have been around for 129 years now. I had no idea the company was this old!
The company uses paper mills from all over the world, but 60% are British. 

They have recently become more well recognised for their marketing and having seen this myself I can see why, there is a clear luxury, high end feel to the marketing. 
The company is well respected. 

Matt advised us to think about paper choice before we begin to design, as different stocks have properties  that could influence the way you design. 
For example, if you are going to produce a business card you want to make an impact and to be remembered, so you would more than likely use a high quality, luxury feel stock.
Also with letterheads, you should use a nicer paper to create an impact when you send a letter, especially as we so rarely send letters nowadays. 
When packaging a product you want to use high quality materials and techniques to sell the product. 
GFSmith papers are commonly used to produce brochures and again this is because people want to create impact and leave a lasting impression. 
The company also offers a hand made envelope service as you don't want to send out your highly crafted, printed brochure in a standard envelope. This service allows you to specify colour and stock to possibly match a product or simply have a higher quality envelope.
The papers are also used for menus, posters, magazines, etc. 

You don't deal with GFSmith directly, you contact your printer and specify which paper you want to use and they will then place an order with the company. 
You can order from GFSmith but there are minimum orders. 

Papers are categorised into colour book and black and white and are then further categorised to ease the searching process. 

Colourplan is the most successful and popular selection as it is very versatile and comes in a variety of weights and textures and in 50 colours. 

A benefit of using a coloured stock rather than printing a colour onto a white or creme stock is that you avoid white edges which can look unprofessional. The colour is often deeper if you choose a coloured stock.

You can also have a specific shade made if you order 2 tonnes of paper. 

Matt  then showed us some examples of designs created using GFSmith papers. These were largely inspiring as they were such high quality and most were innovative. 

One example showed how complementary colours can be used as an identity. 

He showed an example of a design from the studio Made Thought and told us to check out there website as they work with a lot of interesting folds and formats. 

I have looked at this briefly so far but I think it could be really helpful for the print info pack I am currently working on. 

Colourplan has been given its own identity now as GFSmith own this, whereas a lot of the other papers are not owned by the company. 

The Smooths is another category and these are less expensive stocks, used more for day to day printing. 

When showing us other examples he explained that it is important to consider stock as some papers hold images better some have a better texture, etc. and your choice should be dependent on what you are wanting from the stock. 

He mentioned another studio that I plan to look into more later as at first look they seem to produce a lot of print based design. 

Textures is another category and these papers vary from paper made with hops from beer to paper that resembles wood. These obviously wouldn't be appropriate for 4 colour photograph printing. 

There is also a Specials category with unusual stocks such as metallics, rough surfaces and more. The twist gold was one of my favourite examples. 

There are factory services available including the hand made envelope service and cut-to-size sheets, you can buy 25 sheets of any item.

Matt went on to explain that GFSmith held an event called Beauty in The Making. This showcased that GFSmith was about to around 5,000 people. 

Here are the twitter usernames for Matt and GFSmith for a quick method of contact. 



I photographed some of the examples that were brought in. It was great to be able to handle such high quality papers and seeing how these have been presented was interesting in relation to the print pack I am currently thinking about, especially as I wand to include some stock samples. 

Simple ring bound book, easy to quickly look through. 

Embossed design, highly tactile. Heavy weight stock. 

Smaller pages inside, interesting visual and way of separating image from text. 

Bright yellow on black, high contrast creates instant impact.

I love this promotion for GFSmith's colorplan's stock. I couldn't stop shaking it which shows how it is a good way of getting the audience to engage with promotions. 

Simple font and text layout keeps focus on high quality image and stock this is printed on. 

Different stocks have been bonded together here but in a very accurate way it almost looks like the colours have been printed onto the cover stock. I don't think I would be able to achieve such an effect with the facilities available at college but this again makes you want to pick up and feel the stocks encouraging interaction.

The circular design continued inside the book and again these swatches had been stuck perfectly. The swatches have been organised by colour which prevents the book looking random, it has a clear order. 

Organised swatch book perfect bound. Consistent and simple labelling of stocks ensures the colour and qualities of the stock are the focus rather than an elaborate design. 

Special textured paper used here working with the purpose. This shows how the texture of a paper can assist promotion/function of a design.

Another more interactive way of displaying swatches. These are much more interesting than being simply stuck in a book or bound together. 

I loved these special papers and can't believe you can print on these.

GFSmith also offer an envelope service allowing you to have custom made envelopes with the high quality stock. This would allow perfect matching with stock you may be sending. 

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