I spend a lot of my time talking about designing for production capabilities. And sometimes I get to do more than just talk about it. That was the case when I got to help a talented designer from Chicago design for inkjet.
Crystal is the graphic designer for Alison & Ivy, a custom jewelry manufacturer in Chicago. She read my book, “The Designer’s Guide to Inkjet” and reached out with questions about printing with high-speed aqueous inkjet.
It wasn’t variable content or the desire to be different that drove Crystal toward inkjet printing. She needed 1,000 catalogs for a Las Vegas trade show that was fast approaching and wanted to reduce the cost. Ordinarily, Crystal would opt for offset printing, but a broker suggested high-speed inkjet as an option to reduce the per-piece cost.
We talked about how important the paper choice would be for achieving her desired results. I encouraged her to establish expectations by requesting a sample sheet from her design or a fingerprint containing important color and print quality elements prior to production. I explained that inkjet can look different than offset.
Since her catalog contains highly detailed images, I underscored the importance of using quality paper. Also, since the catalog was not initially designed for inkjet production, I recommended enhancing detailed images by applying image effects, ensuring that important tones were sharp and commanded attention.
Crystal and her team went right to work, meticulously masking out diamond areas, adding Photoshop filters and enhancing color effects. She then contacted her print broker, Steve, at Precise Printing Network and requested a sample proof and a quote for her 10 11×17˝ signatures, finished to 1,000 8.5×11˝ saddle stitched, 40-page catalogs.
I received this picture (above) along with the following text: “Thanks Mary for your help. The catalog does print different than offset, but different is good! My price per piece for inkjet is 26 percent less, looks great and arrived on time to the show. I was really nervous switching processes, (but) now I am confident for next time.”
I asked Crystal a little while later, what she would have done differently. “I would have taken more time in testing the machine, ink and paper combinations to get the best product,” she wrote. “I know now how important it is to prepare the item for inkjet initially and the effects which I can use to enhance my images, as well as getting a fingerprint done on the right paper to be used in production. I want to get the best print quality from inkjet and now understand each machine; ink and paper contribute to that. I would also like to better understand how customizing and versioning could increase sales. I am now hooked on inkjet!”
Crystal took a chance in moving such a highly detailed catalog to inkjet and now she is open to new ideas and positioned for success.
As you begin your next printed project – whether it is a catalog, mailer, promotional material, or something else, consider how it will be produced, the costs and if moving to inkjet might be the right for the project to save costs while maintaining quality. Knowing the production technology will allow you to select the right paper, colors, and effects to use in your design for the optimal results.