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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. 


The Secret Power of Razzleberry

The pink was so bright it could have done some serious eye damage. Yet as the designer had cleverly flooded the sheet with lots of black—leaving out small areas to mark intricate patterns—the poster was eye catching and memorable.

Why am I telling you about the limited edition Art X 2013 Commemorative Poster? Was it the largest poster ever? Au contraire. At 11x17", it was on the small side. Was it the most elaborately printed poster? Nope; it was simply screen printed, and with only one color at that.

The reason I am telling you about it is to remind you (and myself, for that matter) that sometimes a paper’s color is its most powerful, and often most undervalued, asset.

In this case, the designer had chosen French Paper Pop-Tone Razzleberry as the basis for his poster. Razzleberry has a nice pink fluorescent touch without being blindingly bright.

As only 100 posters were printed in all, one could argue that a quick digital print job on your standard white sheet would have done the trick. But as much as I love digital print, there are just certain colors that we are not able to recreate—at least not yet—and razzleberry and its equally bright sisters (or metallic cousins) are among them.

Fact is that a colored sheet makes a marvelous base for a number of outstanding marketing pieces—and I am not talking fluorescent, eye-catching fliers that announce your next garage sale. Granted, if you are looking to print a four-color job, the shade of your base sheet will greatly influence your overall color outcome, under-printing or not.

But there are times—and these are my personal favorites—when we can utilize the special effects of a colored sheet that are possible in combination with the tactile experience of holding the piece.

As in the case of our razzleberry poster, colored stocks can make a one-color job look stunning. Black is a safe bet with most colorful sheets. It gives a nice contrast for type and elaborate patterns and, with a double hit—or rich black—provides ample coverage for a lush look.

On darker sheets, any metallic ink (or white opaque) is ideal, but silver is the most effective because of its inherent reflectivity. Just remember, two hits give the best coverage (or many clicks of white for our digitally minded friends).

Another added benefit of using a colored sheet is that the paper is colored through and through. This means that even if trimmed to business- or note-card size, rounded or rectangular corners, there will be no white edges in sight. Just stunning color all the way around.

Will this be the most elaborate project you might print this year? Maybe not, but the ROI of a happy client is unbeatable.

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