Some notes on paper.

March 17th, 2015

This guest contribution is from paper guru, artist and all round nice guy, Mark Jessett. Mark represents world-renowned paper merchant G.F. Smith – sharing his thoughts and beliefs on paper and why it is remarkable, comforting and how it connects us.

The future of paper and print is not bleak. New media has not made it redundant and we don’t need a crusade to save it. Likewise, I don’t need to encourage you to employ paper and print in your work, to engage with it in your life, or to convince you of the value it brings. But I would like to remind you of some things you already know.

Paper is remarkable

Paper making is a triumph of invention; engineering, chemistry, science, technology and craftsmanship. I wouldn’t begin to know how the machines are built, nor exactly how the ingredients are handled and how everything works together, elegantly and precisely, to ensure that the paper produced is good and consistent. I just know that the process is wonderful.

Alongside this, and of equal complexity, we have the production of ink and the incredible workings of printing machines. Add, then, everything else that might happen to a piece of paper – folding, foil-blocking, embossing, stitching, gluing, die-cutting, perforating and so on and so on. Just think about all that magic.

And all of this happens at a relatively low cost, to give an end product that might be so special it makes the recipient feel special themselves. It can actually make someone feel cared-for. And when a brand reaches out to its audience through exceptional printed material, it can make them feel more connected and personally involved with that brand. They become more attracted and loyal to it.

Paper carries a comforting familiarity

Most of us, as young children, are given paper and some kind of drawing implement. In most cases, I suspect this provides our first experience of creativity, of making something. As we grow, our skills and sensitivity develop; we understand differing qualities of paper and how they affect the results of our creativity.

Some of us value this relationship with paper so much that it shapes our lives; we chose activities and careers that see us engaging with paper, exploiting it, enjoying it and sharing the results with as many people as possible. Others leave that kind of thing behind, but they still retain a memory of their early contact with paper.

Just as some people might build a highly refined relationship with food, so others build an increasingly sophisticated understanding of paper. There isn’t one person in our society who hasn’t eaten food or experienced paper, even in the most basic terms.

Paper connects us

It’s not unusual to hear paper described as beautiful. In my experience, this description is often inspired by the feel of a paper, rather than its appearance. Like perfume, paper is at once perfectly simple, yet extremely complex. It is commonplace, yet it can be appreciated with the greatest depth of feeling. In those rare moments of connectedness, it can be the subject of our most refined senses; a reminder of the sensitivity we possess as humans.

Consider this scenario: I have a book that is very precious to me. I have owned it and loved it for a long time. It contains information that might be useful to you, or that will enrich your life in some way, so I will lend you this book, or maybe even give it to you, and give along with it everything that it means to me. So we will share the value of that book and the knowledge and meaning therein.

Or I could just give you the address of a website that contains the same words and pictures…

Mark Jessett studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths’ College, London. He has worked in paper since 2000, first with Zanders and then with G . F Smith for the past 10 years. Trying to balance painting with real life – living very happily with his family in Devon.

You can follow Mark on Instagram and Twitter.

You can discover more about G.F. Smith Papers here.

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