We spoke to Jenna and Simon Hipgrave about the importance of creating tangible artefacts in an increasingly digital world.
While we’ve been updating our smartphones every couple of years, Hungry Workshop has been working old school on letterpress machines that are almost a century old.
Because, when you think about it, everything digital doesn’t really exist. You can’t hold a digital asset or put it on a shelf. As we’re spending more and more time online, our interactions with new physical forms are becoming less and less. Creating printed items brings your brand directly into the hands of your client.
How can tangible artefacts be an effective way to connect with your audience?
We all spend an incredible amount of time online, in front of our screens or with phones in hand. We’re connected more than ever before, but physical moments are few and far between these days – even with the people you know and love.
We’re not luddites. We love and appreciate technology for its productivity and ability to connect, but give me a hug over a like any day.
The same thing applies to brands – those moments when you physically interact with a product or service are transformative. Humans treasure these interactions. People are trying their best to simulate these moments online, but nothing beats the real thing. These moments are gifts.
In print production, what opportunities are there to create a unique expression of your brand?
Every interaction with your audience is an opportunity to show how much you, as a brand, value and appreciate the people who support you.
The most intimate and private moments are always the most memorable. A personal introduction, an unexpected thank you or unique packaging are prime examples of connecting in a physical setting.
What are the sustainable or environmental considerations that you make in production?
For us, sustainability has always been second nature. It’s inherent in our process and methodology. It’s not something we talk about often because we (maybe incorrectly?) assume that everyone is on the same wavelength.
Of course – we use recycled and recyclable materials where possible, minimal ink, and always look to minimise our waste by maximising how much we get out of our sheet. Letterpress as a process has minimal wastage compared to offset printing, for example. Our presses are powered by green energy and we use carbon neutral delivery.
We collaborate with our clients by looking for different efficiencies – from multipurpose stationery to a plantable seed paper. It’s great for the environment and it makes sense economically as well. We’re always looking to improve our process and find innovative ways to minimise our footprint.
How can print compliment an existing digital offering?
Most brands exist almost exclusively online – so when physical production happens, it is done with the utmost care. It’s seen as a real investment. Creating a physical artefact for your audience is seen as a finishing touch, to connect in a way that digital media cannot.
Give your audience a moment of reprieve. No disruptions, notifications. An object that isn’t measured by likes, clicks or retweets. Give them something to run their hands over, something that they can cherish.
What sort of changes in production needs have you noticed in the last decade?
It used to be a case that the ‘middle ground’ of production was falling away with people either seeking the cheapest possible forms of production or high-end, premium production methods. In the last few years, cheaper production has almost dropped completely away. Cheap stationery like a flimsy, poor quality business card is becoming more and more uncommon. Junk mail has thankfully all but disappeared. People are seeking out bespoke, crafted methods to demonstrate to their audience what, and who, their brand stands for.
We have noticed that simple stationery items are getting larger – handing over a business card is a statement, and that moment is being enhanced by slightly increasing the size.
Hot foil stamping has experienced a resurgence, and new shades of coloured paper are coming into the market.
Can you take us through some of the artefacts you have been producing recently?
We’ve been workshopping and prototyping packaging ideas for an underwear brand that is quite unique. They’re a premium, mostly online brand and understand that investing in their packaging is as essential as investing in their retail space.
Collaborating with design studios and clients to develop unique branded applications for online businesses has become even more relevant in this day and age. Online retail, food delivery and digital services are looking to improve the moments where online worlds collide with reality. We recently invested in new equipment that allows us to rapidly prototype different shapes and create mock-ups for packaging and stationery.
We love being able to bring good ideas to life, and it is helpful to do that with prototyping for studios and direct clients.
Find out more about Hungry Workshop.