blog hero


Get the latest in print & creative arts business updates, trends, and inspiration.

Passion for Print Remains in the Age of Social Media

53rd Annual Print Design SurveySponsored by Verso Corporation

For the 53rd year, GDUSA has conducted a reader survey about print design. When print was predominant, our surveys got into the weeds: details about projects, presses, papers, practices. Today, print is an option and a choice and, therefore, the survey focuses on existential questions: its role, purpose and future. Here, the 2016 results and comments are both suggestive and informative.

First, print remains crucial as to how professional graphic designers make a living. More than 9-in-10 designers work in print as part of their mix and nearly 3-in-4 projects involve a print component.

Second, designers retain responsibility and control for large swaths of the print process, with roughly 8-in-10 involved in print buying and paper specification.

Third, designers believe print perseveres because of its classic strengths. Foremost is touch — sensual, physical, real, permanent, credible – the human connection that is missing in the virtual world.

Fourth, these classic strengths are amplified by context. In today’s digital clutter, and the current rush to social media, print has the potential to stand out and be special – fresh, welcome, surprising, disruptive, personal, engaging, meaningful, a statement that a brand values itself and its customers.

Fifth, it follows that print lends itself to certain audiences and offerings where the communication needs to be retained, contemplated or trusted: luxury goods and premium services, fundraising and memberships, event invites and announcements, real estate and capital equipment purchases, fashion and cosmetics, law and medicine, real estate and investments, music and art, are telling examples.

Sixth, print’s special role comes with responsibility: superior print design, well-crafted production, strategic deployment, sustainable manufacture and distribution matter as much, perhaps more, than ever.

Our 2016 survey was sent to a random selection of 12,000 GDUSA print magazine and e-subscribers, and generated 1,089 responses. The benchmark results convey a clear message: print remains essential to the graphic design profession. A few specifics: 97% of GDUSA readers work in print as part of their mix and spend 72% of their time doing so. Control over key elements of the process still resides with the designer: 82% buy or specify paper and 87% buy or specify printing. Other notable findings: brochures and collateral are the most frequent print projects; package design is seen as a stable area of the business since it’s role is less directly impacted by the internet than other print-related activities; digital printing and digital papers are mainstream; sustainability continues to influence design solutions and purchasing decisions; and designers maintain significant purchasing influence with regard to related products and services such as type, images, software and hardware.









Designers feel strongly and positively about print. They value print for its classic strengths and how these can be effectively leveraged to convey a message or a feeling. Foremost is touch, but other practical attributes continue to matter: permanence, portability, convenience, accessibility. Print works, in the view of respondents, because it creates a human connection and a trustworthiness missing from the ephemeral, oversaturated, often anonymous world of digital communications. In addition, many observe that the relative rarity of printed communications makes the impact of print felt even more.

This article originally appeared on Graphic Design USA.

Sign Up to Start Receiving Chronicles

Contact me for the next session

Contact me about the next Print 101 class


Get a Free eBook on using Ancilliary Benefits to Retain Employees