The Graphic Designer Insights series has been developed with quality in mind.
At JG Imprinters, we believe the best quality comes from great ideas that are turned into excellent graphics and custom printed for the lowest price possible. You keep having the great ideas, and JG Imprinters will keep giving the best quality prints.
To tell us more about the graphic designer side of things, we have Angie OʼConnor, Owner of Writing On the Wall Graﬁx.
Tell us a bit about your graphic design background: Did you go to school for graphic design and/or marketing? How did you get started in this ﬁeld?
I went to school for graphic design, a trade school actually. Got exactly the tools and knowledge that I needed to get started. Then gained some practical knowledge at a local magnet manufacturer putting together press sheets for print. After 5+ years working for a small business, I noticed a lack in skills at the small business level. I decided that I could ﬁll that gap by putting that knowledge to work for local clients in Kansas City. Iʼve been looking for ways to help the little guys look like the bigger guys ever since, and that starts with good graphic design.
Why do people need a graphic designer for print media?
If for no other reason, to ensure no headaches. Files done right – the ﬁrst time – are much easier to deal with than reprints, or getting the ﬁle kicked back to you for technical reasons that you don’t understand. Back and forth between a printer and a buyer with no training can get frustrating, especially when you don’t know the process, and their printer is not speciﬁc about solutions. For aesthetic reasons – a graphic designer helps ensure the integrity of your brand. They should be qualiﬁed to make sure that your colors will reproduce well, your photographs are crisp and your logo will print correctly and well.
What tools/system do you use?
I am originally a mac-user, but have made the switch to Windows. I concentrate on the Adobe products for print graphics, and if I need to get a little more creative, I switch out my mouse, bamboo tablet and keyboard for my pencils, markers and art supplies.
Why should a graphics design program such as Creative Suite, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. be used instead of a desktop publishing program such as Word or Publisher to create ﬁles used for offset printing?
The biggest reason is: what you see is not necessarily what you get with those programs. Adobe Creative Suite was designed and has been continuously honed to be the best user interface for the printed word. They keep up with trends in production and make it easy to ensure a quality product as an end result. Not to disparage the Microsoft programs, but unless you are a Microsoft Expert, it’s difﬁcult to determine if your photos are high enough resolution, that the fonts will embed and reproduce right, bleeds are included, crop marks are correctly placed, or that any special effects / opacity / or transparencies will print as you see them on screen.
Word was created as a word processing program, PowerPoint as a presentation software and even though Publisher was intended to ﬁll the gap for production, it’s not optimal. The tools that are available in Adobe to ensure a good product simply aren’t available in Microsoft or some of the other products like it.
In your experience, do most people who use desktop publishing programs understand vector art, CMYK, embedded fonts, curves, outline or color gamut?
Not in my experience. The way you save the ﬁnal ﬁle is just one thing that determines the quality of the print. If you don’t know how to get to the right settings, you may be setting up for a bad print. These may be the programs that more folks feel the most conﬁdent with, but that doesn’t mean that they will produce a quality print. In my opinion, they were not designed intuitively for print media.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you have seen people make when preparing ﬁles for offset printing?
Mostly it’s fonts, colors and bleed that get people into trouble. People don’t realize that you need to convert fonts to curves (this creates a ﬁle that is not dependent on your own system to print well), nor do they understand the difference between RGB (the way color displays on a monitor / web color) and CMYK (the way a press builds a color). But I think that bleed is the one that is hardest to grasp. We need bleed (the color that goes over the edge of the cutlines) to ensure that the ﬁnal product has good looking – professional edges.
You can learn more about Angie and her company, WoW Graﬁx and Marketing, at wowgraﬁx.com.
Watch for more installments in the Graphic Designer Insights series on the JG Imprinters blog.