Archive for July, 2012

Alternative Perspectives on Going Paperless: E-Waste, Dark Data and the Environmental Impact of…

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Environmentalism and sustainability are part of the ethical zeitgeist in Western society, and a paradigm of our times is that digital communication and paperless interaction are better for the environment than the alternatives.  It’s not something we feel a great urge to stop and think about; not using paper in an instance when you could use paper will surely always be greener – it seems a no-brainer. To truly assess the environmental impact of “going paperless” however, you have to consider the resources and environmental impact of the alternative method.  Online billing, emailing without printing, reading books on the internet – all of these paperless alternatives have one thing in common: they use the internet, and use a device to connect to the internet.  This article will take a look at some alternative perspectives on the environmental consequences of “going paperless”; specifically the environmental impact of the tools and methods which allow us to use less paper; the internet and computers.

Dark Data, E-Waste and Grey Energy

The three terms dark data, e-waste and grey energy to the layman sound like they could come from a sci-fi film or dystopian novel; the reality is these are all terms for facets of the digital age which have environmental significance.

Dark Data: Dark data is a rather captivating name for all the bits of information which are stored on the internet which aren’t fully accounted for.  They are bits of data which get left behind, sort of like the echo or shadow of light data (data in current use) which can be forgotten about, or aren’t known about.  It wouldn’t be inappropriate to compare dark data to the scientific phenomenon of dark matter.  Dark data can be anything from all those user PST files on desktops, to data stored on a 2GB USB stick connected to a laptop.  It is estimated by the University of California that the average American consumes 34 gigabytes of data a day, and the majority of this is dark data.  This means that the energy consumed for you to check your emails is conflated by all the dark data milling around, and according to a study by the Institute of Sustainable Communication the energy it takes to sustain our digital demands has a direct impact on forestation.  The ISC reports that:

“The growing energy demands of consumer electronic devices, desktop computers, cellular networks, Internet servers and data centres are contributed to the destruction of more than 500 mountains and over 600 square miles of forest.”

E-Waste and Grey Energy: As well as the impact of real-time browsing, another environmental concern is what it takes to manufacture the devices we browse the web on.  As the digital revolution continues to develop at the rate of knots, so the appetite for the latest technological devices grows.  The result is increased E-waste (disposed of devices) on top of those devices which have actually become defunct, and increased grey energy (the energy it takes to manufacture new devices).  According to MIT-researcher Timothy Gutowski, manufacturing a one kilogram plastic or metal part requires as much electricity as operating a flat screen television for 1 to 10 hours.  On top of this, the majority of our E-waste ends up in landfills rather than being recycled, resulting in toxic substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium infecting water, land and air.

As much as the sentiment to protect forests is valuable and worthy, it seems that a reassessment of the actual consequences of our behaviour for forests is necessary in the wake of the digital revolution.  The Institute for Sustainable Communication comments that an FSC approved printing outfit may well be a more sustainable option than “going paperless”(see here for more information).  It seems then that rather than considering a paperless age as necessarily greener than a printing age, we need to assess the digital printing facts properly, and readdress digital printing costs for our environment in comparison to paperless costs.

Our friends over at Custom Earth Promos have put together an insightful article about eco-friendly products we should all be using, which you can read here. It’s a really informative guide to going green in the home that we think everybody should take a look at.

To make certain our prints are up to standard we ensure they are printed on FSC paper, as well as being 100% ECF Virgin Fibre. Although we are no longer FSC accredited, we have instead chosen to assign the fees paid through the administration of the FSC, to a scheme with the Woodland Trust called the Carbon Capture Scheme. You can read all about the Carbon Capture Scheme on our Purely Green page.

Get Noticed: 5 Really Creative Business Card Designs

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Business cards create both an instant and lasting impression.  A smart looking business card can speak volumes about who you are and what kind of business you like to do, and designed in the right way can convey a potent sense of character.  Simultaneously, a lack lustre business card can make you totally forgettable.  Your business card is what a potential client or customer will go back to; it is all they’ll have to remind them of you, so it is imperative that you get it right.  This article will give examples of some of the most innovative business cards out there to get your creative juices flowing so you can create a card worth hanging on to.

MODhair, Rome

MODhair is a rock n’ roll hair salon in Rome.  They needed a business card (above) which would instantly evoke their musical, edgy theme whilst still communicating their business as a hair salon.  The result was a business card designed in the shape of a comb.  The teeth have varying strips of plastic down their lengths so that when you brush along the edge of the comb with your thumb it plays a classic rock theme.  The card is made from black PVC with hot foil silver.

Bang Your Own Drum Stationery, UK

This business card design aimed to make Bang Your Own Drum’s name stick in the mind whilst also reminding customers that they sold stationery.  The card is bright yellow with a semi-translucent circle which acts as a drum skin.  The card comes with a drumstick pencil so you can literally bang your own drum.


At Lego they don’t use business cards as such; rather they take pride in their own products by using a lego person with each employees name on the front and details on the back as a business card.  The lego cards are designed to bear a resemblance to each individual employee.  It’s a pretty cool design!

Lush Lawn, Michigan

The lush lawn property enhancement business card doubles up as a seed packet to advertise their services providing lawn maintenance.  The brown packet is embossed printing and opens up to hold real life grass seeds inside.

Word Search, Graphic Designer, Brooklyn

Jose Antonio Contreras designed his business card to advertise his services as a graphic designer with a word search puzzle on the front and clues to solve the puzzle on the back using a duplex printing technique.  Cleverly, the clues are his details.

These five designs are just a sample of some really creative business card designs.  It is hoped that they’ve gone some way to demonstrate just how much personality the humble business card can have when designed with enough imagination and playfulness.  So if you have a clear sense of your brand identity, then make sure you come up with a creative and smartly designed business card which will immediately and lucidly communicate that to the people who matter.

One Book that Changed the World: The Gutenberg Bible and the History of the Printing Press

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

To think of a time before the written word is pretty hard to do, but before the invention of the printing press, books, papers, magazines, even pamphlets and leaflets simply weren’t a part of the common person’s daily life.  The invention of the printing press and the development of the first ever printed book can’t really be over-estimated in terms of influence and importance for the Modern era.  Mass produced writing in many ways led to the intellectualisation of society; it did more than simply spread ideas, it created the foundations of the European psyche which even today aspires to more knowledge and greater knowledge as a kind of inherent good.  This article will explore Gutenberg’s invention, the importance of the Gutenberg Bible, and both its immediate and long-term effect on European civilisation.

The Printing Revolution

Around 1440 Johannes Gutenberg, a German blacksmith and goldsmith, invented the first movable type printing press in Mainz, Germany.  Gutenberg adapted existing technologies learnt through his profession as a goldsmith and blacksmith, as well as inventing his own new technologies to perfect the printing process through every stage.  One of his most notable inventions was the hand mould which made possible precise and swift creation of metal movable type in large quantities.

Within just a few decades of the invention an explosion of printing activities began in Europe.  As early as 1480, 110 printing shops had been set up in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Bohemia and Poland.  Printing spread from a single shop to 270 cities throughout the whole of Europe by the end of the 15th century, and from this time on it is understood that printing became universal in Europe, with more than 20 million copies printed by 1500.  This rose to around 150-200 million copies being printed in the next century.

A good way to understand the rapid impact of the printing press is to compare European output with output in the Eastern world where printing press technology had yet to reach.  European presses in 1600 could produce 3,600 impressions per day; in the East no more than 40 pages could be produced per day.

The development of the printing press had huge influence in the scientific world and is said to be a direct precursor to the scientific revolution, as academics could speed up research and experimentation by reading widely disseminated scientific papers.  The printing press allowed for the first establishment of “best-sellers” such as Erasmus’ work or the work of Luther.  Disseminating ideas established a democratic ownership of knowledge as thought could now be shared with a wide section of society.

The Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible is considered to be the first “mass-produced” book and is admired not only for its significance in this respect but also for its artistry.  Gutenberg produced 180 copies, all of over 1,200 pages at a size of 307 x 445 mm.  Gutenberg was committed to achieving the visual impact as hand written books had done before the printing press without having to spend the time and labour of hand writing.

The book was printed using the press and adorned with elaborate drop caps and opening and closing sections produced by scribes of the time.  The book then is a brilliant juxtaposition of old and new technologies; beautiful in terms of both mechanical accuracy and consistency and skilled, artistic calligraphy.

It was a stunning achievement received with awe by Gutenberg’s contemporaries.  48 copies still exist and are considered to be the most expensive books in the world.  There are four complete copies which can be viewed by the public in libraries in Britain, France, Germany and the US.  You can also view an online display of the Gutenberg Bible via the British Library website.

With the rise of digital media and electronic books it seems timely to consider the influence of changing printing technologies on the cultural world.  In many ways we stand on the threshold of a revolution similar to that of the printing revolution, and yet the Gutenberg revolution of the late 15th century still has ramifications today, for example in developments in digital printing technology and the digital printing industry.  Both eras are comparable in the rapidity of change stemming from a new technology.  It’s an exciting thought then to consider where our current technological developments may take us, when the Gutenberg printing press still has consequence some 600 years later.

Chic + Unique by Swash & Fold

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well we challenge anyone to behold these orders of service and say they are not beautiful! Swash & Fold, a boutique design agency, were asked to produce some orders of service for Lisa & John, the brief was simple “summery and laid-back”.

Now we’re sure you’ll agree that the work of Swash & Fold is pretty darn gorgeous but there is no point in amazing design if you’re going to print on dreadful materials!

We feel that our print and hand finished work really sets them off and of course we wish Lisa & John all the best for their special day.

Emile Heskey

Friday, July 6th, 2012

How thrilled were the team here at Purely Digital when we spotted the gorgeous and talented Emile Heskey sporting a great fashion accessory. Here he is modelling one of our own printed creations – a pass to the Amber Lounge Fashion Show in Monaco.

And I think we can all agree he wears it well. Other famous celebs who were also at the illustrious do (and also seen wearing our handiwork!) include Vanessa Hudgens (of High School Musical Fame) and socialite Kim Kardashian. But Emile is a firm favourite in our office.

Printing Techniques That Increase Brand Consistency

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

A brand logo is the epitome of a visual company image. A successful logo will be implemented in the mind of the customer and create an awareness of the product and familiarity with the service offered. Creating brand consistency is an important method of bringing in a higher volume of sales and is very useful when expanding the business to a wider range of products or customers, which is easily created when using the brand logo effectively. Digital printing services can help to produce the desired image across a range of products in a professional manner that boosts the overall credibility of the company.

To begin with, a business card is a simple but effective product that many businesses employ as a means of spreading the word and making the company memorable. To create a professional look, a printing service can offer foil print or embossed printing so that the lettering stands out and catches the eye. This can be done with bold, bright colours or can be striking with perhaps black and gold or simply black and white. These digital business cards may also be created with either embossing or foil printing for the logo itself, depending upon the intricacy of the design. Again, this adds to the individuality of the business and creates brand consistency.

As well as business cards, foil or embossed printing can also be used for other products that are relevant to the company. For example, letterheads, invitations and other corporate material can be printed with the same design as the business cards, and can also be printed with the logo. This will implement the brand identity by carrying a consistent image among a range of materials, which is especially important for the business to business environment if, for example, you are hoping to expand the business.

Digital printing can also be used for business to consumer purposes. Although the primary product is likely to include the brand logo, it can also be useful to expand the business to secondary products that have the main purpose of displaying the company logo. Often these are loosely connected and cheaply acquired, for example clothes or bags. The exact product chosen may depend upon the target market and the primary product being sold, for example printed tea towels may be more likely to appeal to an older target market, whereas printed teddy bears could appeal to children. This can also be used for businesses that offer a service rather than a product, for example printed bags being sold with the logo of a nightclub, or simple T-shirts that display the logo of an exercise gym. Whatever the product, this is a cheap and simple solution that can increase brand consistency and help to boost sales figures on a long term basis.

Print On Demand Solutions For Self-Employed Entrepreneurs

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

For self-employed workers in business, the ability to print a small number of products without incurring unnecessary costs is a key method of saving money at the start of a venture and bringing in more profit as interest rises among potential customers. New technology developments within the industry of digital printing services means that a range of products can be printed rather than merely paper based ventures, including bags and clothes. This ability to create related products for promotional purposes means that it may appeal to a range of self-employed individuals in a number of industries.

Print on demand services are often useful for those that require some form of self-publishing. Often this especially appeals to authors looking to publish their work initially on a small scale. Using printing on demand means that there is almost zero chance of buying too much material and creating a financial loss by underselling or wasting material, so using a smaller scale initially can increase the profit margin and generate a higher profit overall.

Starting up a small magazine can be suited to on demand printing. Although it may be useful to eventually invest in personal printing equipment, the initial start-up cost can be significantly reduced by using the on demand service, and this in turn may help to increase the emergence of potential start-ups with limited funds within the present financial climate. As with a self-published author, it can be in their financial interests to begin on a small scale to give potential readers a chance to develop an awareness of the magazine so that you have a large enough following to eventually create a higher turnover with a loyal readership.

As well as writers, printing can be useful for visual artists such as photographers. As photographers often sell a specific quantity of prints to their customer, printing on demand is perfectly suited to the small number of products required. As well as this, the on demand services frequently offer a one-off printing job, which means that individual pieces such as portraits or a print of a painting can be produced effectively and conveniently for both the artist and the customer.

If printing is not the integral aspect of the business, an alternative use is to form a secondary income for larger businesses. This can be done by way of creating different products that display the logo of the company. These are often cheaply acquired, such as T-shirts or tea towels, but bring in a high profit and help to increase customer familiarity and awareness of the brand. This can be suited to any business that sells a product with a brand logo, therefore working with a print on demand company can help to create an effective promotional tool that increases both sales and profit.