Ten things that printers can actually teach designers!

Marina Poropat Joyce.
Marina Poropat Joyce.

Well, here’s a twist! A printer actually schooling a designer!

Marina Poropat Joyce has been marketing, graphic designing, publishing and printing her entire life. She fell in love with design and printing early on, and she founded one of the first design-to-print companies in Los Angeles, California. Her company, INTAGLIO, was ranked as one of the 50 fastest growing print companies in the country, a winner of Inc. Magazine’s Inner City 100 and one of Los Angeles’ top 100 women-owned companies. Joyce has also served on the board of the Printing Industries Association of Southern California (PIASC) as a Board Member and Chairperson. She also wrote the book Designing for Print to explain printing in graphic designer terms, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the printing of the book. Here, from a recent article in Printing Impressions, she reveals 10 things that commercial and other printers can teach graphic designers…..

Designers are visual people and the best way to teach a visual person is to show them. Graphic designers are also curious people who generally like to see how things work. We all walk around with our cameras all day, lauding their efficiency for email, Slack, twitter and more. But it’s the instant transmission of images and videos that make showing ‘as easy as pie.’ Here are 10 ways you can use your smartphone to reach out to your designer clients, add value to your company website, and make life easier for yourself. (Sales managers, appoint one person to collect this kind of knowledge and disseminate to your entire sales team).

Coated Versus Uncoated. Sit down with a designer and have two paper swatchbooks in front of you and explain coated paper versus uncoated paper. You’ll have saved yourself countless hours of “it looks like postcard paper” descriptions, and the like.

Bleeds. Take a video of your guillotine cutter in action, preferably a job with a bleed. Zoom in on the crop marks, text it to your designer client. (Put it on your website too).

Grain. Look in your sample room for something with a nice black solid. Pull two samples. Fold one sample with the grain. Fold the other sample against the grain. Put them side-by-side and photograph with your iPhone. Open the image and crop to relevant image area, then mark as a favourite in your iPhone for quick retrieval.

Waste = Cost. Show your client an illustration of paper waste for various page sizes. Put it on your website too!

Quantity matters. Walk into your pressroom and film a sheetfed press at the delivery end while it’s running for 30 seconds. Confirm run speed with the press operator. Text video to client explaining that’s how long it takes for (insert quantity here) brochures/posters, etc. to run through the press and why they should opt for digital printing on this short run. At 15,000 iph, 30 seconds equals 125 sheets (8-up equals 1,000 pieces).

Printing is green. Calculate how many pounds of trim, corrugated and electronics you recycle each year (if your trim is picked up and weighed by a recycler, they have this info). Next time your vendor picks up a container, run out to the parking lot and take a photo. Put the photo on your website with an infographic of the tonnage you recycle annually. Explain that the trim and corrugated goes into future recycled paper products.

Ink can change colour. Explain that the ink formulas with a high percentage of opaque white (basically all pastels) will shift within a year. Share that pastel colours are great for a short-lived item like an invitation, and not so great for an identity campaign.

Paper makes a difference. Next time you’ve got an attractive job with photos that’s going to run on white paper, order some extra sheets of ivory, canary and grey uncoated paper. Add those coloured sheets to the job and photograph the same detail area of all four colours. Make a montage (easy with the layout app for iPhone). Send this montage to a client who’s wondering about running a job on coloured stock – and put it on your website too.

How to read a swatchbook. Oh boy, if I had a penny for every time a customer found the “perfect paper” in a swatchbook and placed an order specifying that sheet – only to find out there wasn’t enough or it wasn’t stocking or that the chosen colour had been discontinued! This is a great topic to discuss at a quick lunch with a new customer. Text clients an image showing how to look up the date of a swatchbook. Then bring some lunch and a few swatchbooks and show clients how to “read” it.

Art takes time. Text your idea of a rudimentary schedule to your client as a PDF graphic that they can print out and pin to their idea wall. Next time they’re working with a client to develop a timeline, they won’t guess – and it saves both them and you a phone call and/or an email.


Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.