The Important Things To Consider When Creating Artwork For Print

When I’ve been asked this question in the past I’ve always considered the answer to involve lots of technical aspects of the printing process. There are of course many technical things to consider when sending artwork off to print and if you don’t apply them your printer (in our  case, Circle) will either send the artwork back and ask you to redo the artwork or they may do the additions themselves and then charge you for doing it. At the least this makes you look silly, it could cost you money or you may end up with a job which is nothing like you were expecting.

But a less considered but more important thing to consider is are you actually capable of doing your own artwork and if you do will you get a good job?

In my years in the print industry I have seen some terrible pieces of artwork brought in for printing done by people who have a dodgy copy of Word or something similar and think that creating artwork is simply a case of creating a text document and dropping in a few photo’s. IT ISN’T! It isn’t quite as common as it used to be, people have learned more about computers and their uses and have realised that certain jobs need specific types of software. But it still happens and printers still get frustrated at peoples expectations as to what can be achieved.

But firstly consider if you actually have the artistic skills needed to produce a document which will look professional. Just because you receive leaflets every day and see adverts in magazines and newspapers every day it doesn’t mean you have the capabilities to create your own. If I were asked to write a song I would laugh at the idea. I have listened to music all my life, it has been an enormous part of my life actually so I can recognise a good well written tune when I hear one but that doesn’t mean I could write my own. So it is with design, you need an eye for it and a degree of natural flair. If you haven’t got it your design may look great to you and your Mum but cringeworthy to everyone else.

If you have decided you are capable of creating a good design you need the technical skills to do it and the knowledge of what a professional printing company needs to be able to print your job to a high standard. There are many parts of print artwork which aren’t seen in the final product because they get chopped off. Printing is done on oversized paper so if you need an A4 leaflet for example it will be printed on paper which is larger than A4 and trimmed to size. In this extra area of paper there will be printed things such as trim marks, colour bars and registration marks. Once again if you don’t know what these are it may be a good idea to think about using a professional designer. Although it is possible to find all this information on the internet experience is worth its weight in gold in this circumstance.

You also need to consider if you have the correct software for the job. Desk Top Publishing software is what is required. This is more than a word processing programme such as Word and ideally needs to be capable of creating PDF files. There are several such programmes on the market varying in price from free software such as Scribus, mid price such as Serif PagePlus right up to the professional level such as the industry standard InDesign from Adobe. Without suitable software it is almost impossible to get professional finished results.

So before ploughing in and designing your own software have consider if you have the eye for design, the technical knowledge and the right tools for doing it. If you haven’t think about using a professional designer. Most printers have in house designers and it needn’t cost a fortune, possibly as little as £25.00 and it will be money well spent in the long run.

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