If You Can Read This, Thank a Printer
When I first began doing print production I was at Foote Cone Belding (FCB) in NYC working on the Citibank account, and it was very unofficial.
My official role was traffic manager. But more specifically, I was the traffic manager for Citibank Investment ads, and even more specifically, only for newspapers and only in five markets. Even within those parameters, I could easily release 40-60 ads per week—if not more.
My life pretty much revolved around media plans and the SRDS, composite sizing, versioning, veloxes, and making sure the correct ad with the correct legal and interest rates went to the right paper in the right city in the right market.
Working in traffic pretty much means you are one of the last people out the door for the day, and more often than not, it’s way into the night when that happens. It’s not uncommon at all for others to ask you to help them so they can leave, since you are staying anyhow. And that is how I began to learn about print production.
The print production manager I worked with taught me about specs and releasing files so I could cover for her when needed. She could have left it at that, but I was lucky and she would also let me tag along when she routed proofs to the team. I remember how cool I thought the light box was, and making comments with China markers. I definitely saw the creative aspects of print production and working with the creatives to make art was very appealing. I wanted in!
Not every story has a happy ending, though. FCB lost the Citibank account and poof most of the 40 people working on it were reassigned or let go. I moved on to traffic at Deutsch first, then Ammirati, Ogilvy, Showtime and Y&B Advertising—all before landing at Stein Rogan + Partners in 1999, which was an interactive ad agency. That, ironically, was when I first started doing actual print production.