Your print shop should be your FIRST call on a project

Design Blog, Graphic Design

Print Shop

When I worked in a print shop, too many times I had seen clients take a lot of time to design a piece for print (or a whole campaign of items), only to not give the print shop enough time for printing, let alone pre-flighting, and then having issues crop up and their job printing late.

A print shop should be your FIRST call on a project.

Think of them as your partner, because they are. They want your project to succeed as much as you do.

There are a lot of factors that come into play between designing a piece and when it finally gets printed. Your print shop can give you a heads up on where potential speedbump could be and how to avoid them.

Common Issues

Let’s take a look at a few issues that could crop up, that could be avoided if the print shop was consulted first.

  • The Deadline. This should always be the first question to your print shop. Coordinating your deadline with their schedule. Remember, you are not their only client. They have a lot of other people needing to print items at the same time you do, so making sure you can fit into their schedule and can get your project done on time.
  • Pre-Flight/Proofing time. Not only time for printing but time for the printer to take your final artwork and make sure it meets certain specifications to run on their machines (Fonts and Photos are linked properly, color is set to the right color space for the printer, bleeds are set if needed, etc. this is called pre-flighting). Also to make sure that what you imagined, is how it will look on the paper you picked. Remember, colored paper can change the colors of the printed piece.
  • Print Specifications. Know what you are trying to design, say a postcard, they can give you the exact dimension they need to print it. Bleed size, trim size, etc. And if they are mailing it for you, they can tell you how much room you need to have for “clear space” for the post office to imprint their various barcodes, etc.
  • Font issues. Your print shop may not have the fonts you do, so you may need to ensure you have the proper licensing to use and include them in your piece.
  • Color issues. Certain colors can be problematic with certain gradients, on certain papers, or even on certain machines. So knowing ahead of time what colors you are thinking of using, can give them a heads up, or can help you come up with an alternative solution.
  • Platemaking/separations. If your piece is going on a traditional ink press (not a color printer), then there needs to be time for separations to be checked. This adds a step in the pre-flight process to make sure that all the elements are on the correct ink plate (or “separation”. If you have an all-blue job, and one element is mysteriously showing up on the black plate, then that takes time to find, fix, and then you also need time for the plates to be made.

Those are just a handful of the most common issues that crop up. But your print shop can also help you even with designing the piece.

Remember, they see a LOT of print pieces by a LOT of different companies EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They have a vast knowledge of what has been done by companies in the past, and they sometimes here how successful, or no successful a piece has been.

They also know their equipment, paper, and inks like the back of their hands and they know how to keep projects cost-effective.

So talk with your printer about what you are trying to accomplish. They may have recommendations on how to tweak your design to cost you less in printing, to avoid any “setup fees” or to make your piece more effective.

They may even be able to suggest add on projects that could take your design even further. Designing a postcard to advertise your new business? They may be able to help you with mailing them or creating street flags, sidewalk boards, or vehicle decals to get more exposure.

So, remember, don’t leave your printer as your last thought when you are ready to print. Call them first! It will save you time, money, and energy and could even make your project more successful.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about using the right program for the right job.