Printer, Paper Company and Artist Rock Together for Cause

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In a sign of how mainstream the environmental movement has become, a recent effort to highlight the printing capabilities of some green papers was the result of a collaboration among a graphic artist known for his album cover designs, a commercial printer and a large paper company.


The three parties hope to realize their goal with an invitation-only exhibit of re-created covers from albums by The Eagles, The Doors, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills and Nash, among others, on Domtar's EarthChoice line of paper.


The line, introduced in April for business applications such as direct mail and catalogs, claims to be the most comprehensive line of environmentally responsible paper on the market. From a printing and production standpoint, it purports to equal other top-quality papers, meaning that not only will it produce bright whites and vibrant colors but it also can withstand printing processes such as foil laminating and double-density black.


EarthChoice "tries to blow away the myth that you can't put a lot of commercial printing stress on environmentally friendly paper," said Lewis Fix, director of business development at Domtar EarthChoice.


After all, the line's environmental impact is its major point of difference. The EarthChoice line is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which means that the virgin wood it contains comes from well-managed forests. Most of the line also contains 35 percent to 100 percent post-consumer waste.


Executives for Domtar, Montreal, decided something special was needed to highlight the line's capabilities because, Fix said, company market research indicates that the higher the recycled content of paper, the more marketers fear it.


Artist Gary Burden was drawn to the project because it would let him revisit classic rock 'n' roll covers like Joni Mitchell's "Blue" and The Eagles' "One of These Nights" while re-imagining them with an environmental message.


Burden "promised he would push the limits of the paper and exceed our comfort levels," said Gary Gonzales, project manager at InSync Media, Inglewood, CA, the commercial printer that printed all of the campaign's materials.


In fact, nobody was sure beforehand that several processes the paper underwent could be done. For example, the cover of a companion brochure to the exhibit shows an album with a number of fine groves. The "Blue" cover is heavily laden with ink yet still was able to print with highlights in the shadow areas. Also, The Doors' "Morrison Hotel" album cover has a UV coating that doesn't compromise the image's clarity.


"We did things Burden wished he could have done 40 years ago," Gonzales said. "We wanted to demonstrate that just because it was environmentally responsible paper, we could still do things exceedingly well."


The exhibit is traveling around North America, reaching Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Denver, Chicago and Montreal so far. On Nov. 30, it comes to New York City's Bowery Ballroom. Corporate paper buyers, people in the design community and commercial printers are invited to the New York event.


The invitation itself is a reproduction of a 45 RPM record, which is followed by an Evite e-mail. The response rate for the exhibit has been 25 percent to 30 percent so far, with more than 1,000 people having attended the exhibition, Fix said. Burden usually speaks at the events, as do representatives from the Forestry Stewardship Council, Rainforest Alliance and Domtar.


Attendees are asked to sign in when they arrive at the exhibit and whether they wish to receive a copy of the commemorative book. Domtar then follows up with attendees in person or by mail.


As a result of the unique collaboration between rock 'n' roll and the paper industry, Domtar has opened a dialogue with Warner Bros. Records, which is interested in the paper company's products, Fix said.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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