In the 1920s and 1930s there was a movement which, in retrospect, has been called the Harlem Renaissance. Having its origin in the Harlem neighborhood in New York City the movement has had far reaching effects.
While the movement focused on an examination of esthetics, with an eye open toward identifying a Black sensibility in arts and crafts that was distinctly separate from that of the current White culture, some of the great works of art of the 20th century were created. During this period painting, music and literature underwent dramatic changes.
Publishing was not immune from the enthusiastic energy of change. Many of the most powerful works of African American writing were produced during this period and the printers of the time were not without their say. A number of works were produced using black paper and printed with white ink.
This was, perhaps, an idea that was technically ahead of its time.
Although lithographic printing using paper plates was invented in 1914, the bulk of printed matter was still produced using the relief (or letterpress) process. With the letterpress process it is difficult to print effectively with either white ink on black paper or to print a flood of black ink with the type dropped out.
Perhaps this is an experiment that is worth investigating again. With the sophistication of offset printing and the advent of direct-to-print computer processes, as well as the invention of the digital book, a firmer technical foundation exists today to play with the relationship between black and white on the printed page.
Weather the paper or the ink is black or white, the strength one takes from the contrast between the two is undeniable. This business card designed by (and for) Kristin Krantz is fine example of the dynamic that is highlighted by the simple use of these two , I would say, primary colors.