In Living Color: How Design Has Evolved for this Generation

120Looking back at the last 30 years of design excellence, one trend stands out in a big way.

Print in full color? Who can afford that?

Thirty years ago, that was the prevailing attitude. Full color printing meant big dollars, and the majority of marketing printing was in black and white. Spot color was often the compromise upgrade.

Zachary Petit in Print magazine posed the question “How has design changed since 1980,” and then went back to review the winners of the Regional Design Annual for the last three decades.

“Why all the black and white?” he asks. “Cost restrictions made it so that longtime editor Martin Fox and his team could only select a handful of designs to feature in full color. Imagine how some of these would sing with just a few pops …”

Fast forward to today and the incredible advances in printing technology not only make color printing affordable, it’s economical for short and specialized runs in ways that were simply unimaginable in the ‘80s.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago, but in the way things have changed, it’s a lifetime. We remember when selecting a spot color meant a full-team budget meeting; full color was often reserved for the annual report or the Christmas catalog.

Now, full color is everywhere, and the only reason to choose black and white is for a specific design purpose rather than default. (Some designers are making use of the novelty factor of B&W, with beautiful results.)

In an age when designers have an unlimited palette, the choice of color is more critical than ever. Print providers that understand this, and invest in the right technology to provide outstanding color matching, are worth seeking out.