At BatesMeron, we have a pretty great team of talented designers who have mastered the creative process of print. They can take a unique and solid design for a business card and then pick just the right paper, inks and foils.
The trouble is, after all of this creative expertise has created a beautiful product, you can easily discover that your simple, cost-effective business card is now coming in at $4 a piece.
This is why knowing printers, understanding print techniques and how different approaches can affect the cost, is so important. Usually it’s just a matter of time and exposure to many print projects. After working with printers for the majority of my career, I can usually spot a budget time bomb design from a mile away. As an example, something as a simple PMS color or as complex as die-cut can come with a flat fee – this fee might triple or quadruple a low quantity project, but also could be hardly noticeable in a run of a much larger quantity.
Still, there are two valuable tips that can benefit those new to print projects right away—saving both you and your clients a lot of stress:
First tip: Make sure amazing designs that include descriptions of paper types and printing techniques come with a price estimate. You never want your client to fall in love with a beautiful design only to be disappointed later when they receive the estimate and realize that it is out of their budget. This is where knowing a printing expert is essential.
Gary Mordhorst at AccuColor Plus in Chicago is our go-to letterpress print shop. Gary’s wealth of knowledge often helps designers stay away from budget pitfalls, simultaneously teaching our team more about the craft of various printing processes. Creating different swatch books over the years to show his recommended papers for letterpress has been a valuable teaching tool for designers in Chicago—and an incredibly useful tool for our team at BMSD when spec-ing paper for projects.
That brings us to tip number two: A good relationship with a knowledgeable printer is an important part of the creative process when it comes to printing. You have to rely on your printers and vendors for help—staying open to direction from those who are the experts.
Recently, Gary developed two flipbooks to show silver and gold printing options on black and white paper stock. From foil, to offset, to PMS, to thermography, each swatch helps explain what the different processes actually look like, giving you an even field for comparison. These not only help with our internal design for printed collateral, they also help visually explain to clients the difference between each separate printing method so they can better understand the variation in cost.
Vendor relationships are extremely important in most industries, but designers, as well as account people at creative agencies, need to be aware of how these vendors can not only improve your finished design, but also aid in your relationship with your clients.
So don’t be afraid to rely on a Printing professional you trust as you’re getting the hang of it—and don’t forget to keep utilizing them when you know what you’re doing.