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Sabine Lenz

Making the Grade

By Sabine Lenz

About Sabine

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 


Look Outside Your Own Hula-Hoop


Maia was facing the same problem most creatives do these days. She wanted to express her creativity, yet her print runs were more on the smaller (read: digital) side.

“Are there ways in which I can spruce up and add to the digital print aspect?” she asked. Always helpful, I pointed her to one of our PaperSpecs Webinars about new aspects of digital printing—with the expected result. Maia was over the moon about the possibilities.

Not wasting any time she called her local printer, who had not one but two Indigo presses. I felt all warm and fuzzy and content inside, assured in the knowledge that Maia was in good hands, and I had helped another designer to create an even better printed project.

But—and you saw this one coming, didn’t you?—not even 24 hours later, I received an SOS from Maia. Her printer with the two Indigo presses had never heard of the processes we featured in our Webinar and—shame on him—doubted they were even available on our shores.

First up, the Webinar was more than a year old at the time, featuring technology that had been launched at the last drupa. Granted embossing, raised ink and some of the other aspects we touched on are not available on all digital presses, but there is something to be said for looking outside your own Hula-Hoop—as a printer friend of mine calls it.

“It is not enough to know what your press can do,” she claims (and we will give her some anonymity here). “But you have to know what is happening in the industry. What is next. What your customers might be interested in. So you can get them all excited about the opportunities.”

We are doing our customers, and our industry, a disservice by claiming something is not available just because we do not offer it.

Take a leaf out of the "Miracle on 34th Street" book—if you do not have it, send your customers to Macy’s—or in our case:

  • a) Outsource it (and let’s face it, this is not a new concept to our industry), or
  • b) Get your client in touch with a printer who has said capabilities.

But at any rate, make it your business to know what is available, what is new, and what will be happening next.

Digital is a huge part of our industry’s future. You should know by now that digital presses can run metallic inks (well, gold at least), offer tactile results with raised ink, create spot gloss varnish effects, emboss inline, add high gloss textured patterns and...oh so much more.

Think outside your own Hula-Hoop; don’t be caught out by your clients knowing more about what is available than you do.

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