5 Things I Wish a Print Salesperson Had Taught Me
Starting a first job, fresh out of design school, can be both an exciting and eye-opening experience. In school we’re taught to be creative thinkers, to present our work with gusto, and how to mockup anything from a business card to a paper clock. But we’re fledgling at best when it comes to the technical side of producing a project.
There are five things I wish a print salesperson had taught me when I was just starting out as a graphic designer:
1) How to handle a press check with confidence.
Most fresh graduates and graphic design newbies haven’t spent much time on-press with projects. When they do finally get on-press, there tends to be high anxiety because they feel as though they should know what they’re doing. I wish a print salesperson had taken me under his/her wing as a young designer and invited me to participate in other client’s press-checks so I could learn the process through watching experienced professionals.
2) Involve the printer from the get-go.
This seems counterintuitive to designers because we think of printing as the last step in a project. And most designers don’t think of their printers as “idea people,” but rather as mere producers. I’ve found printers not only have great ideas, but they often are able to offer cost- and time-saving suggestions (which makes everyone happy).
3) The whole wide world of paper.
The options for paper are almost as vast as our font libraries, and it can be overwhelming to choose. To be frank: young designers have no clue about paper. Some papers don’t fold well, some are slow to dry, some are beautiful printed offset, but not made for digital...these are all foreign concepts to a young designer. I would have greatly benefitted from a crash-course in paper early on (beyond what little knowledge I absorbed during the cocktail hour at a paper show).
4) The many production options.
Many young designers have little knowledge about the different types of printing processes (digital, offset), the ways to enhance a piece (varnishes, foil stamping), and the many ways to finish a piece (folding, binding). We learn only as these types of projects come up. Had I learned about all the options upfront, my design process would’ve been expanded to include them in the initial stages.
5) How to write a schedule that involves adequate production time.
This is obviously an all-around win. All designers need a solid understanding of production timelines so they may manage client expectations, but we typically learn through experience. Having a point of reference for typical project timelines (i.e. business cards, postcards, etc.) would have helped a lot when I was starting out.
It’s no coincidence that brands often try to hook consumers at a young age so they remain loyal throughout their life (i.e., McDonalds). The same is true for your industry. The people who help to prevent us from epic failure along the way are not soon forgotten.