Printed Samples Worth More Than 1,000 Words
I should have known better, but you know what they say about hindsight.
I was working with a printing technique that I did not have much experience with—OK, as good as none—and the printer who came highly recommended by a friend was more than helpful.
He responded to my emails. He took my calls. He emailed me a PDF to show me how best to set up our files. He explained at length how the process would work and how the results would look, and explained to me all the testing he had done. In short, he told me everything I needed to know...but never showed me the samples he so often mentioned.
Don’t get me wrong, I had seen ample "official" samples—the ones that demonstrate the printing technique in its very best light. Yet these often don’t relate well to our day-to-day reality—you know the samples I mean.
But you know us creatives, we like to push the envelope just a bit. And that "pushing" pushed our printer over the edge...
The first round of proofs were not at all what we had in mind. Then came the second round, and the third...Well let’s just say we drastically adjusted our design and made our deadline with only hours to spare. All the while our printer referred to all the tests he had done with just the effect we wanted to achieve but—and this is the crucial but—he never showed us his tests.
He talked about them and explained them to us in the most vivid details, but to this day I have not seen them.
Seeing his actual tests with the effect we had in mind would have saved us hours of redesign, proofs, FedEx costs and heart palpitations.
So please, when you talk to clients, show them real-life samples, even if the samples are not perfect, even if there are difficulties to consider. That, my dear printer friends, is what we as creatives need to see. We can paint the sky blue all we want; if you cannot print said blue, none of us are going to be happy in the end.
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.
Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.
Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge.