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The Basics of Printing

Regarding commercial printing, the most important piece of advice I can give you is to simply talk with your printer. Just as a race car driver trusts his mechanic to prepare a multimillion-dollar machine to perform at peak efficiency, so should you trust your printer to run his or her machinery at maximum efficiency. Communication is the key. A mechanic might have to tell a driver, “It will pull a little to the outside on Curve 3.” So might a printer need to tell a client “With this paper, under these conditions, we'll have to increase the trap by a point.”

Commercial printing presses are vastly expensive machines, made up of more individual parts than you can count, some standing two stories tall and costing more than the race car mentioned earlier. The people who run and maintain these monsters should be skilled professionals who know and understand their particular machinery as no other can. On the other end of the project, however, is the client or designer or account executive or artist. This individual has a concept in mind, however fuzzy at the beginning, and wants to achieve that image on paper. Someone must create the digital file that conveys the message; someone must take that series of computerized ideas and turn it from magnetic zeros and ones to ink on paper. One or more individuals can become involved in the process in between.


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