Welcome to Stand Out, Get Noticed; where graphic designers, marketers, sales managers, and business owners discover hints, tips, and techniques to improve their marketing and sales communications.

Today’s topic is:

The top 5 graphic design problems…and ask you the question “is your print quality being sabotaged?”

Anecdotally, artwork file problems are one of the biggest issues in the digital printing industry; but really, how big is that issue? I haven’t seen any empirical evidence to support this proposition, so I did a little digging. At Intertype we receive 1000’s of artwork files each year so we had a ready a data source to work from.

So, we kept statistics for a month. The results amazed us. There were some shocking numbers:

  • 94% of the artwork files that we received in that one-month period contained fatal errors that needed fixing before going to the press.
  • 82% of these files contained more that one fatal error.

Why is this happening?

Number one, as I see it, is this whole creative versus technical aspects of good graphic design. It’s sort of a left brain, right brain issue. Now, great graphic design takes a lot of skill combined with art. However the nerdy, technical aspects of artwork print files, that’s another story altogether. High-end advertising agencies have their creative team who create amazingly visual designs, but then they hand those designs over to a finished artist. These are people who convert those great creative ideas and produce the final artwork files that will work in the production process.

Another root cause I see is a reflection on the quality of training. It wasn’t that long ago, if you were going to be a graphic designer you did an apprenticeship. You actually worked in the production process and had first hand involvement in the whole end-to-end process. This doesn’t happen anymore. We’ve had young trainees come on board in our business, fresh out of university and have been taught, “as long as it looks good on the screen, that’s all you have to worry about, because it will work in the print-production process.”

I’ve also heard, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about PMS colours anymore. All you have to do is make up your brand colours, as you can create your own colour values”. Again, that’s crazy! You have a global standard for colour, which is called the Pantone Matching System (or PMS). Use it! You’re creating all of these issues, if you go away from it. Again, it comes back to that training process. Many teachers just don’t get it; and it is a huge disservice to a lot of graphic designers out there.

The next one we see is that there are extremely low barriers for entry to being a graphic designer. In fact, with the Adobe Creative Suite, which you can rent for $50 a month and suddenly you’re a graphic designer without any skill, without any training. They’re out there doing it, and we see it.

I also believe it reflects on businesses, or the people who commission graphic designers. They actually don’t value quality design as much as they used to or as much as they should. Today we’re seeing good designers competing with $2.50 per hour, crowd-sourced designers without any regard to the extra cost that will be driven into the entire supply chain. We often find the cost of repairing low cost crowd-sourced designs exceeds the cost it would have been to get it designed by a quality designer in the first place! All that they’ve done is added cost to the process, and also added time. Time is just as an important element as cost. Adding time and cost to a project is just dumb. It massively reduces your return on investment.

Published On: March 22nd, 2016 / Categories: Graphic Design /

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