As long as love has blossomed, people have committed their ardent feelings to any surface that would hold a message. Etched into clay tablets, inked onto papyrus or paper, or scratched on metal plaques, men and women have expressed in writing their romantic feelings in poetry and prose. But the most prolific outpouring of love missives happens on St. Valentine’s Day.
The beginnings of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to pre-Roman times and the festival Lupercalia, which was an annual event celebrating the fertility of nature in mid-February. But it was the early Christian Church that set the date of February 14th to celebrate a martyred priest named Valentine, a generous-hearted man who lived in Rome in the 2nd century.
The first Valentine’s Day cards appeared in Europe during the 15th century and were exchanged between lords and ladies, expressing the highest ideals of exalted, courtly love. During the 1600’s, hand made cards—designed from the finest papers, lovingly illustrated with painted scenes in brilliant colors, and finished with lace, pressed flowers and even gemstones—became all the rage in Britain amongst the upper classes. The first mass produced cards appeared in the U.S. in the 1840’s and it was then that lovers of more modest means could purchase cards to mail, or deliver by hand, to the objects of their affections. During the Civil War, soldiers were given “tent” cards to send to their wives and sweethearts on February 14th.
The mailing of Valentine’s Day cards became a steady ritual by the early 1900’s, not only for adults, but for children as well. Some of the best artists of the 20th century began their careers designing cards for this occasion.
Millions of cards are still exchanged each year on Valentine’s Day, exceeded only by Christmas cards. In the future, if technological advances and environmental concerns supplant the use of paper cards, one thing is certain. The romantically inclined will always find inventively decorative ways to deliver their messages of love.
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, Printing Industries of America took time to thank printers all over the world for all of their hard work. From prepress to binding, printers make the lives of marketing professionals and company executives happy and easy.
But the life of a printer isn’t as easy as it looks. Printing a brochure for a conference or a label for the newest product is a lot more intricate than it seems. So, let’s stop and look at our top 10 reasons to thank a printer.
- Remember when you uploaded a last-minute file at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday evening and asked for it to be delivered on Sunday? Remember when they got it done? Thank a printer.
- Remember when you hand delivered a high-profile job to the facility just to ensure that “everything goes smoothly?” Remember when they exceeded your expectations? Thank a printer.
- Remember when you insisted on a two-hour meeting during the holiday season to review machines, methods, colors, paper, coatings, folding, binding, and mailing? Remember when the printers participated and walked you through every step? Thank a printer.
- Remember when you wanted to change the brightness of your blue and you couldn’t understand why your yellow didn’t pop? Remember when they sat with you in a press check and explained color management? Thank a printer.
- Remember when your file specified a red from CMYK but you asked for Pantone colors because “all reds are the same?” Remember when your red turned out the way you hoped anyway? Thank a printer.
- Remember when you wanted your 500-piece table promotion folded in the shape of a swan? Remember when the swans was the prettiest you ever saw? Thank a printer.
- Remember when you sent your 5,000+ mailing list to the mail house with information from the 70s? Remember when all your direct mail pieces where delivered to the correct addresses? Thank a printer.
- Remember when you rushed a typo-filled document to the print house because “you didn’t have the time to proofread?” Remember when your piece came out error-free? Thank a printer.
- Remember when your boss insisted they see a printed proof or bindery dummy before you paid for the final job? Remember when the proof was everything you’d hoped for? Thank a printer.
- And finally—remember when you literally “stopped the press” for a change during the last day of printing? Remember when they worked with you and helped you get the end product you desired? Thank a printer.
Always, always, always, thank your printer.
Bleed is a printing term that refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet before trimming. In other words, the bleed is the area to be trimmed off. The bleed is the part on the side of a document that gives the printer a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper, and design inconsistencies. Artwork and background colors can extend into the bleed area. After trimming, the bleed ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document. Check out the illustrations of a ‘good’ file vs. a ‘bad’ file below for a better understanding.
It may seem like there is never time to proof something thoroughly the first time, but when it is not done, you may end up making time to do the entire job a second time. Just what are some of the things that should be checked during the proofing process? Here is a list to perfect your proofing strategy:
Proof the text.
The first place to start is the text. Review all text for spelling and grammatical correctness, check punctuation, and most importantly, accuracy of content. Making changes to text later in the production process will only slow things down, so make sure that everything is perfect before moving on to the next step.
Proof the images.
Viewing the images on your computer is a great place to start, as long as your screen is calibrated properly, but keep in mind that the colors on-screen will not be a perfect match to the colors that are printed. Be sure to check the size and resolution of the image. For high-level image quality jobs, it may be wise to have a physical proof rather than just an on-screen proof of the images done on professional proofing equipment–you will get a better idea of the true color of the piece.
Proof the pages.
Checking an entire page of an original can be done on screen, but it is also a good idea to print out the pages. Look over the typography, placement of images, illustrations and text, as well as hyphenation and line arrangement, page format, and bleeds.
The difference between a thorough proof and no proof at all is the time you may spend having to redo a job. Taking the time at the beginning will save you time and money in the long run.
One of the best things you can do to ensure your printed document looks good is to make sure your image resolution is at least 300 dots per inch (DPI) at the final output size.
Caution: You cannot simply convert a low-resolution photo to a higher resolution by increasing the DPI in your imaging program. The printed result will be a blurry image.
The term resolution is also known as PPI (pixels per inch). It is a measurement of the number of squares (called pixels) of color information available in an inch of space. The more squares, the better the image quality. Below is an illustration of how the same image might appear at different pixel resolutions.
The low-budget project can be the bane of a designer’s existence, or it can be an exciting challenge. With a low-budget project, the client usually has everything to lose. This letterhead project is probably all he or she can afford, perhaps for months or even years. It has to do the job right, or there may never be a second chance.
You will find that it is possible to do a lot with a little.
- Make a low budget into an asset by producing a package that’s stylishly down-at-the-heels.
- Spend the bulk of a client’s budget on one expensive but attention-getting element: a heavy paper, a die cut, engraving, or embossing.
- Rely on a strong design in one or two colors, with ordinary offset printing on common paper stocks.
Producing nice layouts and stunning graphics is only half the battle. Solving your client’s design problems is the other half. As a designer, you must try to create practical and aesthetic designs targeted to your client (and your client’s clients). Here are a few tips for achieving those goals:
|Printing: Most letterhead is printed with offset lithography, which offers more options than most people use. Die cuts, foil-stamping (a specialty printing service), varnishes, and a variety of other printing tricks can help make a piece stand out.|
|Logos: Most established companies have corporate logos that must be included in their printed products. While corporate identity design goes far beyond the scope of this article, even an outdated or downright ugly logo can, if used creatively, be part of a fresh, new design.|
|Artwork: Artwork gives a piece personality. It communicates without words and targets the emotions.|