If you read Blueline Magazine, Volume V, then you’re already familiar with the amazing design work and values of Chicago design agency Firebelly. With a passion for crafting engaging brand experiences and an affinity for all things print, Firebelly’s Design Director, Will Miller, is a wealth of knowledge and insight when it comes to design. Will took a moment to help us dig a little deeper into the relationship between design, print and paper by sharing a few thoughts on designing for print and the role it plays at their studio and in the design community at large.


How does the Firebelly team use print?

Firebelly uses printed pieces in a number of ways. Often print supports a larger campaign that includes a digital or environmental component. Recent years have seen our printed pieces become much more tactile, informative and special. Foils, varnishes, textures and folds have all become exciting to our clients as we use those physical qualities to help explain our conceptual stories.


What value do you think print holds in the design community?

The value of good printed design, to those who communicate visually, plays an important role in portraying steady quality, thoughtfulness toward a physical response and timeless transfer of information on a personal level. It adds to an overall affect a designer may want their viewer/ reader to experience.


What advice do you have for designing and printing on colored paper pastel or brightly pigmented paper (such as EarthChoice® Colors + HOTS®)?

When we’ve printed on colored stock in pieces like the Typeforce catalogs, we tried hard not to fight what the stock was naturally doing for the piece. We saw the color of the paper as a way to unify the page elements—having monotone colors focused the viewer’s attention and allowed for a shift in content, a break from the storyline where the reader could take a breath and see color-toned snapshots of an experience or moment. We worked with our printer to achieve a custom mix of color that would work well with the paper stock, hoping for a multiplied color-on-color effect.


Where do you see your work in print going in the future?

I imagine our work in print diverging in two directions. I anticipate, when given the opportunity, we’ll create wonderful printed books, pieces and projects that really highlight binding, materials and superior finishes. The other direction may feel more immediate, simpler, utility and universal. Nested page sizes, short sheets, mixing of smooth and uncoated stocks and simpler techniques of printing are ways our current clients are asking for printed executions.

For more inspiring interviews, subscribe to Blueline Magazine.

Subscribe to Blueline Magazine today!