Your print shop should be your FIRST call on a project

Design Blog, Graphic Design

Print Shop

Many times when I worked in a print shop, I had seen clients take a lot of time to design a piece for print, only to give the print shop not enough time for printing.

A print shop should be your FIRST call on a project. Think of them as your partner. Because they are. Your print shop wants your project to succeed just 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 speedbumps could be and how to avoid them.

Common Issues

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

  • The Deadline. This should always be the first question for your print shop. Coordinating your deadline with their schedule. Remember, you are not their only client. Print shops have a lot of other people needing to print items as well. Making sure you can fit into their schedule and get your project done on time is step one!
  • Pre-Flight/Proofing time. It takes time for the printer to take your final artwork and make sure it meets certain specifications to run on their machines. Check that fonts and Photos are linked properly, color is set to the right color space for the printer, and bleeds are set if needed. This is called pre-flighting. Making 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. Knowing what you are trying to design—say a postcard— they can give you the exact dimensions they need to print it. If they are mailing it for you, they can tell you how much room you need to have clear for the post office to imprint their various barcodes.
  • Font issues. Your print shop may not have the fonts you do. 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. Knowing ahead of time what colors you are thinking of using can give them a heads-up. Or, at the very least, 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”.) Have an all-blue job and one element is mysteriously showing up on the black plate? That takes time to find and fix.


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. Print shops have a vast knowledge of what has been done by companies in the past. They hear how successful or not successful a piece has been.

Print shops know their equipment, and how it interacts with chosen papers, and inks like the back of their hands. They know how to keep projects cost-effective.

Talk with your printer about what you are trying to accomplish. They will have recommendations on how to tweak your design to cost you less in printing and to avoid any “setup fees”.

They can even suggest add-on projects that will 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.


Remember, don’t leave your print shop 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.

Looking for a local print shop? I recommend Image Printing & Graphics in Circle Pines, Minnesota.

Give me a call to work with your print shop and get the job done right the first time!