Celebrating the merits of print in INK

Printed copies of INK are available for purchase through The Denver Post. Supplies are limited so order your copy here today (US$10 per copy within U.S. shipping; US$15 per copy for international shipping).

SND Denver witnessed a very special project happening simultaneous to the conference and workshop: the INK R-and-D effort. Architects Nick Mrozowski, Krissi Xenakis and Carrie Hoover described it this way:

This project is not about one weekend in Denver. It is about the work we do every day. Our lives, our people and our livelihood. It is about a photographer’s family living a new life where a mega-city climbs out of the desert (pg. 12-15). It is about how we make our mothers proud, no matter what they think we do (pg. 32-33). It is about pushing our craft into tomorrow (pg. 8-9) and turning science fiction into reality (pg. 24-25).

This project is not for your coffee table. It is philosophical and analytical and meant to be read. It debates design as a system as opposed to a sensibility (pg. 28-29). It compares newspaper prose to a Canterbury Tale—in rhetorical terms (pg. 18-19). It shows us that we can democratize print publishing (pg. 6-7).

This project is not anti-digital. It is pro-print. It is physical and tactile. You can smell the ink. You can touch the paper and get your fingers dirty. Then you can cut it up and glue it back together (pg. 34-35).

This project was not a solo act. It was a collaborative effort. We asked a lot of favors and we owe many people thanks. Please, if you see any of our contributors (look right) give them a hug and a high-five. None of this would be possible without them.

This project will not answer all of your questions or provide all the solutions to our industry’s challenges. But, it should give you the inspiration to go out and find some on your own or maybe ask your #SNDdenver colleagues for a little help, like we did.
Print is not dead. It lives in our schools (pg. 22-23). It pumps through our veins (pg. 20-21). It gets stronger with every touch (pg. 4-5). And this weekend it flourished in Denver. See for yourself.

— The editors.

I had a chance to catch up with the three very hard-working editors of INK after they’d closed the edition:

Where did the idea for INK come from? How were you able to gather all the contributions?

Nick, Krissi and Carrie hammer away on INK at SND Denver.
KRISSI: Nick and I were interested in going to SND Denver, but wanted to use the opportunity to make and create. We pitched the concept to Damon [Cain, SND Denver site chair] as a 72-hour newspaper design R&D laboratory, and he was incredibly supportive from the beginning.

We started talking to contributors early this summer. Many of them are our friends and colleagues. And, bless their hearts, they all worked for free. We asked Carrie to join our team in late July.

NICK: Krissi and I first started talking about doing some sort of live publication at SND in January. I had heard about an on-site magazine from an indie magazine conference in Europe called Colophon. It seemed like a perfect thing to try in Denver.

The first person we called was Sam Hundley to do the center poster. That was a no-brainer. After that we thought about content we were interested in and relied upon our networks for ideas and contacts. This is a print product, but it was certainly a web project. Most of the communication took place via email and Skype and among sources and contributors from three continents.

As we got closer to the conference Carrie Hoover was recruited to help “up” the awesome factor.

CARRIE: INK is the newspaper we’ve always wanted to create. Krissi, Nick and I worked together at our college paper [The (Michigan) State News], and there we always tried to make our newspaper the best it could be. But I think this project gave us the capability to take that drive, and the experiences we’ve each had since college and create the paper of our dreams … or as close as we could get.

We gathered the contributions through connections we’d established in our careers somehow. Whether the contributor was a direct colleague or a friend of a colleague. The creative community can be so connected, and that made the collaboration aspect of this project seem almost natural.

Q: This was more than just a celebration of print, but almost an exercise or catalog of all the various analog forms you gather. How did you go about assembling all the original content — articles, illustrations and concepts? Are there any you left out, either due to time or space or a question of resources?

KRISSI: Each spread has its own story. But, our underlying theme was to celebrate print and really showcase some of its best features. We started out with 24 pages and by the end were asking Damon for over 40. Creating Stink saved us from having to cut conference coverage and we managed to fit the rest into the Ink.

NICK: Krissi and I spent some time together in Lisbon this summer. We started exactly as you described: by brainstorming ways of communicating in print. After that we brainstormed things we wanted to talk about. Then we cross pollinated our two lists for some nice combinations. We also made a list of people we knew we could rely on for awesome contributions and started doling out assignments.

Some were obvious, like asking Martin Gee to do a papercraft project, and my friends at The Lisbon Studio to do a comic. As we started talking with more people, more great ideas kept coming our way and the content started to grow.

There were a million ideas we left out. Some examples: scratch-and-sniff stickers, a flip book running in all the corners, wrapping the whole think in velum, etc. We just ran out of space, and some things didn’t fit into our budget, which was precisely zero dollars. The only expense was printing which was done beautifully by The Denver Post (and 10 bucks for an online file-sharing account).

CARRIE: I think we looked for topics and people to deliver pieces expanding upon print in someway. Sort of taking a look at where print is headed, and everything that goes with it. What’s next? What’s exciting? What’s different? What’s the best? What’s really working? We wanted all of those kinds of elements in INK. Print is a two-dimensional medium that is capable of producing multi-dimenisonal experiences, and I think INK seeks to deliver just that. I think there were some ideas we had that didn’t make it into the paper, but the biggest one transformed into the zine. We wanted as much collaboration as possible, and the zine ended up being perfect for that.

Q: What was your favorite part of the project?

Nick and Krissi insert Zines and prepare copies of INK for SND Denver attendees Sunday morning in the lobby of the Denver Sheraton. (Photo by Steve Dorsey)
KRISSI: It was incredibly exciting to work with so many fantastic sources and collaborators. It was satisfying knowing that they were just excited about the medium as we were.

Also, handing out the papers Sunday morning felt really good. We had a lot of interest from non-conference attendees too!

NICK: Without a doubt the best part was talking with all the sources and contributors and the energy they all brought to the project. It’s good to know that there are so many people out there who are just as excited as we are about clever communication and print. Newspapers should give these wonderful people more opportunities to experiment and take risks. The results can be amazing!

CARRIE: The collaboration. I’ll most likely be the sappy one here, but my favorite part of this project was working with my incredibly talented friends Nick and Krissi. Have you ever had people you love working with so much that it makes any project amazing? I feel like we all push each other in different ways, and that allows us to grow, learn, and create successful work. I also very much enjoyed working with every person who walked into the R&D lab (during the conference at SND Denver), because they all made INK more special. And to all those who contributed, but couldn’t be there. Without collaboration, there would be no INK.

Q: What did you learn from the project? What would you do differently if there were ever an INK 2?

KRISSI: We hadn’t exactly thought through the entire fish-bowl concept, so we weren’t prepared for the amount of talking and explaining we needed to do throughout the weekend [as people visited the R+D workspace], combined with designing and editing. And, we hadn’t set aside separate deadlines for critiques. These would be easy fixes if we did it again.

NICK: I was really surprised at how many people were ready and willing to help. We asked for a lot more things than we thought we’d get back, but nobody ignored us or bailed out. We had originally planned on producing 24 pages but had to increase to 40 — and it was well worth it.

If we did it again, I’d have an emcee with us at the event, and one or two official sessions to present the project at its conclusion. I’d also try to distribute it on Saturday night during the conference instead of Sunday morning in the hotel lobby.

Font Bureau's Zocalo
CARRIE: Ha-ha, well this one goes out to Font Bureau. Nerdy of me, but I NEVER thought I would like working with an italic typeface. Zocalo Display is so beautiful and versatile! We started out with a bold Zocalo for the headlines at first, and totally fell in love with the bold italic. We ended up using it for all the headlines!

If there were an INK 2 … I think we’d do everything a little differently. I think the message of INK is growth, change and pushing boundaries. So, I think it should follow its own message and continue to evolve. I’m not sure I could tell you what that next phase would be. Maybe it’s too early to tell.

Q: Do you have any ink of your own?

KRISSI: At one point in my life, I thought about getting an octopus tattoo that would start at my ankle and then wrap around my foot. Nick drew it on with a sharpie as a test drive and it lasted about a week. We mutually decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to make it permanent.

NICK: Blank canvas here. I’d want to get something meaningful and not cliché. When I find out what that is, I’ll get one.

CARRIE: A lady never inks and tells 😉 But I will say this, ink is permanent, so choose wisely and have no regrets about it.

KRISSI XENAKIS is developing her thesis as Graphic Design MFA candidate at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has worked at The Denver Post; Link, a free daily publication from The Virginian-Pilot; and Dotomi, a personalized media company.

NICK MROZOWSKI is the creative director of i, Portugal’s newest national newspaper. He has worked at U.S. newspapers The Virginian-Pilot, Link and The Detroit News. He is a graduate of the Michigan State University School of Journalism.

CARRIE HOOVER is a freelance creative residing in Boston, MA with her fiancé and two cats, she’s formerly a newspaper designer, and all around creative lady. See what she’s working on next at www.destructokitty.com.

(Order your printed copy of INK today!)

About Steve Dorsey

@Gannett VP innovation. Boards: @INMAorg, @SND. He was the 2011 president of the Society; 2015 Lifetime Award recipient. Dad to Fiona; partner to @paprgrl76. Relocated Detroiter. Tigers fan. Designer. Editor. SU grad.

Leave a Reply