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Regaining Control of Prepress

(November 2002) posted on Mon Dec 16, 2002

Learn how to avoid substandard artwork so that your customers stay satisfied and your reputation and profitability remain intact.

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By Mark A. Coudray

If you're like every other printer out there, then you've suffered this problem: The client--or the client's agency--insists on preparing the art for a job that you'll be printing. The customer might even go as far as providing you with film separations. Your production run is about to become a living hell!


Salespeople are of no help. Their main concern is closing the deal and moving on to the next one so they can meet their monthly sales goals. The sales force often receives directives from a manager or the owner of the company to get the work in and let the other details take care of themselves. They see no harm in leaving the "mundane" aspects of production to the people on the shop floor. Production employees are the experts, right? They'll figure it out--they always do.


A common thread runs through all of these situations, one that is either overlooked or ignored: Improperly prepared art will cost you a fortune. You're dealing with the very survival of your reputation, not just press delays and excessive setup times. When someone sees your work, they don't know whether it's your best or worst or whether the artwork was yours or the customer's; they only know that it came from your shop.


If you work with a client's shoddy art and the job ends up looking bad, you will take the full hit for the deal, regardless of how much you forewarned them. Even if the client accepts the job, you can bet that they will tell all of their buddies just how bad a printer you are and how disappointed they were with the work you did for them. Not a very satisfying reward for all of the extra time you spent trying to make their film work.


The vast majority of problems with artwork for screen printing arise from ignorance. Clients simply do not know enough to make the right decisions. Just think about how hard it is for you to find production artists who understand the processes and procedures involved in screen printing. If you can't find good artists and prepress technicians, how can you expect an agency or design studio to have enough talent to get the job done right?



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