In our line of work, printing and graphics, there are a lot of variables that can make our jobs more difficult than they already are. Now I am not saying that printing is harder than every other job, but it does warrant a lot of patience, time, preparation and craftsmanship in order to be successful.
Like my father, Frank, always says, “quality printing is not as simple as pressing ‘Apple + ‘P’’ to print.” There are many steps that take place before you get that poster, banner, sign, flyer, postcard, or book in your hand.
Without getting too boring, I would like to share a few of our printing “Pet Peeves” that make our job, and ultimately your project, more difficult than it has to be. The following are in no particular order, as they are all equally frustrating for printers and clients alike. Enjoy!
- Not Designing Artwork in CMYK
We receive incredible looking artwork designed by some pretty talented people. Most of the time graphic designers will submit their artwork in CMYK color format, which makes for smooth print process, and life is good for all involved. However, a lot of times we receive work that was designed in Photoshop or other programs with RGB color schemes. For those that do not know, when it comes to print, printing machines can only understand and replicate CMYK generated colors. To put it simply, printing technology only understands the language, if you will, of CMYK. When colors that are created using RGB are printed, they will not match the colors you see on your computer screen. They are converted, and matched as best as they can be, to CMYK colors in order to print. So, to make your designing and print projects go as smoothly as possible, please design your work using CMYK. Trust me, it makes everything easier on all parties involved!
- Forgetting to include Bleed
Another designing pet peeve of ours has to be when designers do not include a bleed on their artwork. Adding bleed to your document ensures the integrity of your design when printed. Bleed allows us the luxury of trimming your document to the correct size without being off a fraction of an inch and showing the color of the media it is printed on. When cutting a document, we need to adjust for the unavoidable, micro-variation in the placement of the artwork on the printed piece. Sometimes the printing machines are just a hair off, which can be an exponential issue in the finishing process. Moreover, bleed gives us extra room to cut your print so that white edges and lack of symmetry are not an issue. The more bleed, the better. Designing your artwork with .125” bleed on all sides is all we ask of you 🙂
- Unrealistic Deadlines
Everyone is in a hurry; we get this, we really do. We try our very hardest to get your projects to you as early as possible. Due to your sense of urgency you may not even read the following lines, although I do encourage you to for both our sakes! We are known for our quick turnaround times without the sacrifice of quality, but as above mentioned, this is no easy task. There is a lot that goes into making your print worth the price you pay. To put things into perspective, let us imagine a simple 30” x 30” one-page, 4:0 project that requires 5,000 sheets to be printed on press. First, we receive your artwork and check for errors or things that need to be changed in order for it to print correctly. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, if not days, depending on file size and quality of the file. After file prep, we must burn the images to plates so that they may be later applied to the press for offset printing. The metal plates must undergo laser treatment, burning the images into each plate, which usually lasts several minutes per plate. After each plate has been completed, they must be immersed in a chemical bath to remove the layer of the plate that represent the artwork; the areas that have been lasered off will later attract ink and will serve as the point of contact between the ink and the paper. Did I mention that we must create a plate for each color (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, blacK) for each sheet of paper? Yes, the more pages of the project, the more plates we must create. Thus adding a lot more time to the project. After the plates have been created, they are then applied to our 6-color 40” Heidelberg press. Once our pressman, Chuck, properly applies the plates, the press must be inked up according to the job specs. This may take long as well, depending on the color/varnish options. After the printing has been complete, the job then moves to our in-house Bindery Department. Since our example document is 30” x 28” it will need to be cut down to size since it is printed on a 40” x 28” sheet. Each piece is then cut to size on one of our two cutting machines. This process could take awhile depending on the cut complexity. After being cut to size it is then boxed, which also takes time, and shipped. Quite a bit for a simple job, eh? I didn’t even include folding, binding, coiling, saddle stitching, or even a 4:4 multi-page document. Bottom line, printing is a craft. A time-intensive craft that requires patience and precision by all parties involved. Next time you have an upcoming project just remember the process involved in this example of a simple job. The earlier your project comes in, the faster you will receive it!
- Submitting Low Resolution Images
Many times we receive images that were pulled off of “Google Images” or that were taken improperly on a mobile phone. Then, customers will complain about how it looks when printed and/or enlarged. If you send us a low-res image taken from an iPhone and expect it to be blown up to fit a 60” x 120” sign, you are going to be deeply disappointed. Though the image may look good on your phone screen, or on your computer screen, it is only as good as the resolution it is taken at. On that note, I always like to say that, “your advertising is only as good as your photography.” If you want the best looking product shots or quality images on your print, take a better picture! It’s really as simple as that. Take your pictures on a nicer camera or else you cannot really expect your images to be significantly enlarged. Trust us, it is worth the time and investment to better present your company or project. Your print will look 100% better with clean, crisp images.
- Not Designing Artwork to Fit Expected Dimensions
This pet peeve of ours is synonymous with the above mentioned image resolution issue. When we are asked to print a 4’ x 8’ board for a client and we are give a design that was laid out using 2.5” x 3” dimensions, we like to momentarily close our eyes, take a deep breath, and calmly inform the customer that they need new artwork. This step is not as pleasant as it may sound, as redesigning costs time and money for both printer and client. However, unless you do not mind cropping off a portion of your original artwork and/or disproportionate, stretched artwork, designing to the intended specs is a must. Some people do not understand this sizing principle and expect everything to be resized without issue. Then they come to find out that when we take their original artwork and stretch it to the new size specs (for visual reference mind you), the artwork becomes distorted and loses its original appeal as the text and images then look stretched. For future reference, please design your artwork to the intended specifications to ensure a much easier printing process. Oh, and happy printers, you definitely want to ensure that you have happy printers 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you are interested in learning more about our graphic standards, make sure to visit and download our graphic standards section on our website. Stay tuned for more! If you have any suggestions, requests, comments, please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.