At Mohawk we are endlessly smitten by exquisitely made paper goods. When Alex Durlak, self-described “thing maker” and founder of Standard Form and Perish Publishing, shared his newest creations on Mohawk paper we were captivated.
Created by foil stamping onto Mohawk Loop, Urban Gray, and Gray as well as Via Warm Red, Light Blue and Light Green, his wrapping papers and greeting cards convey a playful elegance that is impossible to resist. So beautiful you could frame them, and right in time for the holidays!
Recently we talked more with Alex about his work:
We all love shiny things and foil stamping is so on-trend right now. Can you share what it is about foil stamping that gets you excited?
It’s funny, the shininess is lower on the list of why I like foil stamping. People always associate that process with metallic foils, but there are some really great glossy and matte pigments too. Though I suppose it’s that contrast between a shiny foil image and an uncoated stock that I love, it really helps artwork and text pop on a page. Also the tactile nature of the impression for foil stamping is pretty great. A combination of those two things is what I’d like to think makes the covers of our notebooks particularly appealing.
Also, can’t talk about foil stamping without mentioning the detail. I’m always blown away by how crisp artwork can look, from fine type to incredibly detailed engraving style artwork. And then there’s the ability to foil stamp light colours on dark stock. So, yeah, there’s a lot about foil that makes it a great process.
Where did you get the idea to foil stamp geometric designs into wrapping paper, cards and notebooks? Can you share a bit about the process?
When I first started thinking about making notebooks as an ancillary activity for Standard Form I knew the first batch should be very simple and universally appealing. This was in part because our first editions are in essence more of a resource building project for us. Building an email list, doing publicity, learning how to do wholesale orders, etc. We wanted a very simple product that would help us to build up the new chops necessary to doing product design.
Patterns seemed like the logical place to start. The designs were a collaboration between myself and my sister Meagan Durlak who is a very talented designer, but is getting out of the more graphic design end of the profession. She came up with the hand drawn and zigzag patterns and I did the stripes. I then asked my friend Katie Pretti to help with the colour combinations as she is an incredibly talented artist and knows more about colour theory than anyone I know. She got more than a little giddy flipping through all the swatch books.
How did you learn your craft, and what do you love about it?
I got into printing by essentially taking DIY way too far. I played in a band back in the day and was interested in making the packaging for our albums. I worked at Kinko’s then and was learning a lot about how to print and, most importantly, how to setup files properly. Around the same time I took a couple summer courses at OCAD in print-making and book-binding. There’s where I first discovered letterpress.
At the end of the day what I really love is making tangible objects you can hold and so far printing has been the critical process for doing that. I try not to get too obsessed with a specific print process, they’re all amazing and capable and they each bring something unique to a project. Print is full of infinite possibilities!
Tell us a bit about your experiences working with artists such as Ryan Dodgson making Buildings & Bodies. Any exciting new products or artist collaborations in the works?
Standard Form publishes artist’s books under the name Perish Publishing. This has been a real pet project for us as we not only get to really indulge in all the printing tricks and capabilities of the shop, but we also get to help artists bring a project to life. With the rise of digital technology, which we love in its own right, the role of books and printed matter has changed drastically: they are no longer the primary medium for passing along information. However, a beautifully printed object that is bold in colour and affective in its tactility is something that can never be replaced. It’s on that threshold that projects really become fun, making things that can only exist in book form. Working with artists like Ryan, who is also an editor at Perish, and coming up with new and unique ways of book printing has been the kind of challenge I’m excited to indulge in.
We have some plans for our Dust to Dust series which are notebooks made entirely of newsprint. We want to start inviting different designers to come with unique layouts for the covers but always using the same copy for the front and back, being texted-based, and always black ink on a grey background. We’re just starting to reach out to people now, so the only person I can confirm who will be doing a design is Niall McClelland whom I’ve already been working with on the branding side of the stationery line. I’m super excited to see how different people will interpret the “rules” of the project.
What is your favorite project you have done on Mohawk, and why?
Probably the Perish Plains series for Perish Publishing. The insides are always printed on Via Vellum Warm White, which is probably my favourite stock for risograph printing, it’s essentially our ‘house’ stock. The riso’s bright colours really pop, the ink soaks up great while still keeping detail, and people really respond to the off-white shade. It feels timeless.
The covers always have the same layout with foil stamping and die-cut windows, but each book in the series has a different colour cover. Going through the swatch books to pick each edition’s stock and foil colour combination is always a lot of fun. It’s a fun project because we basically get to use every process we have in the shop.
You are a big fan of Mohawk Via and Loop, having used them for your new line of products and for Perish Publishing. Why?
As the print and paper industry continues to self-annihilate there is an ever decreasing supply of my favourite kinds of paper: coloured stocks and uncoated stocks. I feel like when I was first flipping through swatch books 10 years ago there were tons of options in the market. Now it’s much smaller and in constant flux. Mohawk has been one of the few sources for finding quality stock of both. I’m a real sucker for vellum finishes and the Via Vellum line is very toothy and prints risograph work really well. Also, between Loop and Via there is an amazing range of really bold colours, it’s overwhelming to have so much selection sometimes. That said, bring back Thai Gold and Mango!!
Standard Form has an online shop where all their materials on Mohawk can be ordered.
Comment below on what you love about Standard Form’s new wrapping paper and greeting cards by December 19th, and two lucky winners will receive samples!