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The Italian Job


Stefan Ricci, Head of print at Publishing Services, print house of Messe Frankfurt.

And you getting three!
Online magazine meets communication: Stefan Ricci on loyalty, doughboys and TOP FAIR

: Mister Ricci, you’re a fan of VfB Stuttgart, one of the top teams in the Bundesliga but currently under pressure, especially off the pitch. The dismissal by the supervisory board of two directors following the data protection scandal seems to have pushed into the background some of the club’s performances on the pitch. How about a change of club? The city of Frankfurt is hardly devoid of attractions in this regard.

At the risk of having to chuck a couple of euros into the cliché box, it’s what happens on the pitch that counts, and there VfB are doing just fine. There’s still room for improvement, of course, and yes, I’m very impressed by Eintracht Frankfurt’s current team, but as you know, the opera isn’t over till the fat lady sings. Cripes, that’s another two euros, isn’t it?

: Here, we should point out that you were born in Swabia – hence your passion for VfB – but your surname, Ricci, is somewhat unusual even for a Swabian. Your father comes from Italy, so we have to ask: Spätzle or Pasta?

Neither. I prefer doughboys!

: Nicely countered, Mister Ricci! But to the matter in hand: increasingly, graphic artists, designers and creative agencies are dispensing with print; or, if something really does have to be printed, many just opt for something bland and insipid. You are the person responsible for print at Publishing Services, Messe Frankfurt’s publishing house. Here’s your opportunity to take up the cudgels for print as a medium.

It’s true, demand nowadays for printed matter seems to be falling off. Creative agencies and graphic designers often prefer to rely on digital media. That’s a pity, because paper is not just patient: it’s a blank canvas crying out to be adorned with graphics, images and text. However, unless this is done with love, paper quickly degenerates into a mere bearer of information and soon ends up in the bin. What is needed is for the printed matter, the paper itself, to be taken into account in the design process. Why shouldn’t we develop print products that inspire and trigger an “I must have that” reaction? Why can’t creative agencies deliver in print what is supposed to be their stock-in-trade, creativity, in both visual and tactile form?

: And are you capable of doing that? Going back to your blank canvas analogy: are you the Picasso of print?

The likeness is inescapable (laughs). Picasso exhibited creativity throughout his life and was constantly taking art in new directions. That’s what print needs, too. I am firmly convinced that we “printers” should be sitting down at the table with graphic artists and designers from the start, in the conception phase, and participating fully in the design process, with a view to creating systematically and efficiently hard copy that is perfectly attuned to the message it bears. Publishing Services has also been publishing its own printed magazines and newspapers successfully for years, a case in point being TOP FAIR. Incidentally, TOP FAIR is a project close to my heart. Working with colleagues in the graphic design and layout departments, we succeed there in making messages palpable, something our readers can literally touch. Unfortunately, at the moment, readers of TOP FAIR are having to make do with less than the full haptic experience; but if some day you’d like this conversation of ours to be printed, bring me to the table!

: We’ll do that. So, to sum up, print should inspire and be fun, but it must also be profitable. So it has to do three things at once. Can print emulate the famous chocolate egg of our childhood?

Yes, indeed, the famous chocolate egg – a fond childhood memory! Who could resist it? There was the joy of anticipation, of shaking it and wondering what was inside, followed by the gastronomic delights of the chocolate shell itself. That is the type of rounded experience I would like print products, too, to deliver. Without imagination, print jobs cannot fire up the reader and the hoped-for success inevitably fails to materialise. Well-made print products stand out, are timeless and durable – and collectible, like the contents of those chocolate eggs. So, I don’t know about you, but right now, I could do with a chocolate egg. Let’s go find us some!

: We can hardly wait for it. Thank you, Mister Ricci.