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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. 


Invitation That Uses a Stepped Accordian Fold (Video)

This week's featured piece is an invitation designed for Advantage's exclusive corporate event. The invite keeps the clients corporate identity and branding in mind. The end result was a stepped accordion fold invitation, where attendees could view one page at a time like a book or extend it out to view it all in one glance.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

If You Think Only Local, You Might as Well Go Home

If you’re a print provider that only prints and sells locally, think again about the potential growth that projects from outside your geographic area might bring to your business.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

Destination Wedding Invitation and Tourist Guide in One! (Video)

The love for design and typography is clearly evident in this destination wedding invitation, which also serves as a tourist guide with maps, a cut-out bib, and tourist destinations of the host city, Chattanooga, TN.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

Warm Wine and Making Things Right

How many times do you have to reprint a project because of legitimate errors? How many times do you offer a discount to a client who agrees to keep the piece as is? Let's hear some of your thoughts on how you would handle clients that are not happy with their printed piece, even if it might be exactly what they specified.  Read More >>

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The Other New York (Self-promotion Piece Video)

Printing firm Digital Color Concepts (DCC) in Mountainside, NJ, in collaboration with New York City creative agency OTTO NY, and a cast of photographers and street artists, celebrate the power of visual communication in a revealing tour of New York City after dark—or "the other New York" as they came to call it.  Read More >>

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Don’t Give Your Customers What They Want

Customers can’t always tell you what they want. Use their idea as a jumping off point then read between the lines. Use your vision and your knowledge to always be a step ahead of the standard requests.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

The Oyster Self-Promotion (Video)

This piece, designed by Faust Associates in Riverside, IL, and printed by Rider Dickerson in Chicago, features an unusual hand-folded format—a seemingly simple 12x12" opens up to a flat 24x36" in a way that resembles the edges of an oyster shell.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

Understanding Artisan Entrepreneurs

According to the Future of Small Business Report, “The next 10 years will see a re-emergence of artisans as an economic force.” These artisan entrepreneurs are not just bakers and chocolate makers, they’re designers, authors, manufacturers of small but exclusive lines of luxury items, niche consultants, life coaches...the list goes on.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

Destination Wedding Boarding Pass (Video)

What better motif for a destination wedding in Puerto Rico could there be than a boarding pass? That's what designer A Day in May of Traverse City, MI, had in mind when creating this clever, yet sophisticated save-the-date piece.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

The Big Lie About Paper Grades

Earlier this week, I came across a paper merchant’s Website (I will not mention any names here, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones) and was dumbfounded. They proudly show their visitors the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) brightness chart, claiming that brightness equals paper grade.  Read More >>

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Stationery with Style (Video)

Michelle Yang, Ben Graham and Steve Watson from Seattle-based design firm Turnstyle, created an identity and corresponding stationery system that is not only graphically memorable, but also sports a tactile memorability—all while oozing sophistication.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

Keeping Score: Business Cards vs. Smartphones

When do you give out most of your business cards? Yep, when you see people. And as a lot of business is done face to face, there's nothing like a really nice business card to break the ice when you first sit down to meet a client or network with a peer at a tradeshow.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

Enchanted Wedding Invitation (Video)

This week, Sabine Lenz, from PaperSpecs, highlights a wedding invitation line from RoxyLou Design + Press in North Attleboro, MA. A flowing engraved script; a tender pink, gold and yellow palette; romantic curling tendrils and tiny butterflies make up this beautiful invitation.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

Business Cards Made From Wood - So Yesterday, Or Is It?

Over the last few years, we’ve seen our share of wood veneer business cards, but the veneer and printing industries have evolved. But let’s back up for a second and look at the amazing way these substrates are created. And believe me, this is worth a sales call to a potential customer all by itself.  Read More >>

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Stitch the Stars Calendar Craft Kit (Video)

Mama's Sauce, a boutique letterpress and silkscreen print shop in Orlando, FL, designed this fun and interactive 2013 calendar craft kit. Printed on French Paper in Construction Nightshift Blue, this piece was designed for the hands-on personality.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

The Martini Client – Stir Them with a Twist While Adding a Twist

It was around Valentine’s Day when a red-striped promotional piece captured my paper lover’s attention within a millisecond. GLS, a single-source marketing services provider based in Minnesota, used CMYK and a triple hit of white to produce a beautiful striped pattern and ribbon effect. But it was the striking look and velvety feel of some of the hearts and stripes in the design that left me weak in the knees.  Read More >>

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ID Image+Design Identity (Video)

So how would a designer drill down to the core identity for a dental design firm? Take a look at this week's video from Sabine Lenz to find out.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

Is Good Business Sense Derailing Your Success?

You have no choice. When a hand-addressed envelope crosses your path, you won’t be able to toss it out. Your impulse to find out who made the extra effort to get your attention is too great. You have to open it. And this is your first step to success.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

The Red Night Invitation (Video)

This invitation grabbed our attention here at PaperSpecs. Red wines are the theme of the evening, and the letters R-E-D figure as the prominent design element in a clever marriage of the word and the color.  Read More >>

Industry Centers:

QR Codes: The Silent Killer of Your Brand

Marketers seem to think that the mere use of a QR code is enough. Utilizing a QR code without a major incentive will leave a bad taste in your client’s mouth and might end up doing more damage to the brand than good.  Read More >>

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