If I were to choose one “on-the-job” past experience for which I am most grateful, it would be the education I received while preflighting digital files for press. Having the task of properly preparing and troubleshooting customer artwork for print is, in my opinion, the greatest way for a designer to develop good habits and to easily recognize the bad ones. The lessons and behaviors acquired in the pre-press trenches can serve to benefit any designer throughout the course of their career.

I remember the labor intensive process of sending PostScript files to the processor to develop film, then to the stripping department before finally being transferred onto a plate to be hung on press. Before Computer-to-Plate technology, there were so many opportunities for error from which the entire process would have to start from square one. This is why it was so important to make sure the project was done right from the start or headaches would just compile for everyone involved.

Here are some design benefits from time spent in the pre-press trenches:

• You pick up new techniques and shortcuts from digging into customer provided files and learning how they were assembled
• You become a pro at using guides, rulers and measurements within your creative software
• Words like trapping, bleeds, registration, die line (cut), offset, camera ready and spot color become part of your natural vocabulary
• You develop a complete understanding of image resolution and know exactly how pixels will translate onto paper.
• You understand the difference between color modes and how transparencies behave on press
• You know the necessary steps and differences in preparing your files for press or web purposes

When armed with the knowledge gained through preflighting digital artwork, you will notice that good design habits begin to show up in your own work. You suddenly find that you are more efficient and your work begins to take on a much more professional aesthetic. You can easily recognize “sloppy” design and you know what course of action you would take to make it right.

Proper file preparation is crucial to overall quality and sometimes tends to be glossed over in design classes. I firmly believe that some form of pre-flighting/pre-press experience should be required for all graphic design students entering the workforce. If you would like to learn about the Accelerated Marketing creative process or have an opinion on this subject please give me a call at 630-442-1934 or e-mail kurt@acceleratedmktg.com. Also, check our website www.acceleratedmktg.com periodically to learn about our latest programs.