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Print Confessions

By Graphic Arts Professionals

About Print

Print Confessions is brought to you by Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi. Each week, read the thoughts of a different graphic arts professional who will share a point of view that can only be written anonymously, and then join in the conversation by posting a comment.

Design Basics Printers Should Know

As most printers know, and hopefully appreciate, designers can be persnickety when it comes to our work. We obsess over color and find sex appeal in typography. What can I say? We’re nerds for nuance.

And we always appreciate when we find a kindred spirit in our printers. Alas, a printer does not a designer make...and vice-versa.

Here are a few tidbits to help you bridge the gap:

● Design is cyclical and trend driven.

If you feel like you’ve been seeing a lot of the same colors, fonts or image styles lately, you’re probably right on the money. We’re visual people, and we generally like to try out “new recipes.” One of my favorite portrayals of “design trends gone bad” is from IFC’s tv show, Portlandia, which appropriately pokes fun at the explosion of bird imagery over the past several years. Watch here and enjoy.

● Whether I choose to act on trends or not, it is good to be aware of the latest greatest.

At the very least, it makes good fodder for dinner party conversations. Curious what’s on the up and up? Visit a local craft fair and you’ll see firsthand what all the cool kids are up to. (The Renegade Craft Fair series is well curated and operates in several cities. Think ironic t-shirts and a variety of hand-made goods from posters to soap). Then, have a good laugh in about a year when you see said trends everywhere.

● Design is about balance.

Our ultimate goal is to assist the reader/viewer by organizing a complex amount of information into a digestible format. This is accomplished through the use of hierarchy (big headline, small text) and balance. Balance can be achieved in many ways, including creating a visual triangle (using three graphic elements on the page that, if connected by lines, would form a triangle). This keeps the eye busy, moving around the page. The opposite would be to make a graphic “stair-step,” which essentially leads the reader’s eyes right off the page.

● Mind your Ps and Qs.

While there are a few theories to the origin of this phrase, one of them comes from our industry’s yesteryear. As you all know, text was handset in the early days of printing presses. The phrase served as a reminder not to confuse those similar letters, as they were set in reverse. So, yell it around your shop! Who doesn’t love an industry-specific joke? (Sidenote: old letterpress machinery and wood type is like catnip for graphic designers…should you have any laying around.)

There you have it. Now take your favorite designer out to lunch and wow him/her with your newfound compatibility. (I know, we really should be the ones taking you guys out to lunch every once in a while.)

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