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To Check or not to Check

— We’ll see you Tuesday at 10
— Great, see you Tuesday morning then
— No, 10 p.m. — You mean 10 at night?
— Yes
— Fine

And so it goes, the dance of the press check. OK, sometimes it is not as bleak as that. Yet it’s always looming, two-three-five-ten hours to spend at the printer’s to approve whatever is coming out of the loud machinery. Peace of mind is what it is — control freaks we are.

What is your press check policy? Do you always go, no matter the size of the job? Are 2-color jobs as press check-worthy as 4-color ones? And please, please include horror stories.

Thanks to Paul Kimball for the topic.

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PUBLISHED ON Jan.14.2004 BY Armin
Darrel’s comment is:

This horror story goes *way* back when I was an intern at 3M while still in school. I had spent a semester there and finally got to work on a project from start to finish. I was fortunate in that anything and everything that could go wrong with a project did with this one, so I got it all out of the way early in my career. After numerous re-runnings of film (client failed to proof items they signed off on), lost dies (van went to wrong building and they were lost for days), and various other slip-ups, we were finally ready to print. It was a two-color job, black and 3M red, so no biggie. Left for the night and walked in the next morning to see a gigantic stack about 8' cubed of my printed pieces. Picked it up to take a look at it.

Bright pink.

Turns out the pressperson ran the uncoated ink on the coated paper (or something like that). Watching that large of a job getting fork lifted into the recycling dumpster was quite a site.

Since then, I've done mostly on-screen work. It's a lot easier to recycle pixels.

On Jan.14.2004 at 08:55 AM
marian’s comment is:

You're trying to get me all riled up early in the morning, right?

I usually attend press checks, though lately I've become a bit lax about 4-colour jobs. I'll always attend a check where I know that something I say or do might actually help the outcome. So of course anything where I'm not sure if what I spec'd or envisioned is going to come out OK -- where I think I may have to change a colour or pull back on something. Duotones are a perfect example. I'll be checking an otherwise simple 2 colour job next week just because of the duotones.

A good story is not actually mine, it's my ex-business partner's. It was our first major job--a 2-color brochure, and I had the flu (probably induced by the massive stress of getting it that far). Anyway, Sue walked into the printer's boardroom to find a frowning print rep and our client with his head in his hands. The job -- my first ever in colour -- with duotones in black and dark purple was way too dark. The printer was standing around like a dufus, shrugging his shoulders, and at some point Sue lost some part of her glasses and was crawling around under the table looking for it. The client was moaning about a disaster. Well, Sue, ever the problem-solver, eventually suggested they run the black as a grey instead. The printer dutifully went off to execute her bidding, and the job eventually was fine, with our melodramatic client happy and smiling. (Oh, by the way, this was way back in the mists of time, and we were working on PCs, which at the time was a real problem for getting film run, which we had eventually been able to do at a prepress house -- so simply rerunning the film wasn't much of an option in this case).

BTW, I'm convinced the after-hours press checks are a sign of dominance by the printer. You can kind of guage your value by the time of your press check--except for the middle-of-the-night ones which tend to be due to last minute changes or other unforseen problems. ... i think.

On Jan.14.2004 at 10:39 AM
marian’s comment is:

Oh! Oh! Here's another good story. Again a long time ago we did a simple 2 colour brochure with black and flourescent orange. Nothing fancy, so no press check. When we got the job, the orange was instead, pink. When we called the printer he told us he'd changed it because he thought it looked better!

On Jan.14.2004 at 10:41 AM
Brady’s comment is:

I always do a press view. Period.

No major horror stories here. Seems most probelms are addressed before they get to that level. Lucky, I guess.

On Jan.14.2004 at 10:42 AM
Armin’s comment is:

This was my first job at Norman. So we get to the press check and they show us the letterhead… everything looked great, except there was no logo. Since it was my first official press check I shyly inquired: Is the logo going on the second pass?

Somehow the logo got lost from file to plate so they had to start all over again.

I usually go to a stationery's first run. It is very important that the colors are dead-on. If we reprint, I trust them to match the previous samples.

I haven't had printers change colors on me; paper, yes, and that sucks.

Marian, pink is the new orange, your printer was ahead of the times.

On Jan.14.2004 at 11:39 AM
Ginny ’s comment is:

I always attend the press check's unless it's a one color job.

I've never had anything happen that was catastrophic on press. Little things here and there that between the printers and my expertise, we've found ways to make it work.

I just wanted to bring up web printing. When you're print quantity is 275,000 and that press is running a "gabillion" pages per second and you're making changes to color...I know that the printer isn't throwing out ALL of those forms that don't reflect MY color corrections on them. So although I think it's important to be on press, it seems like a farce sometimes when there are no major problems and you're asking them to minus yellow and add magenta...blah, blah, blah...because in the end they're going to use some of the "waste".

Everytime I'm on a web press OK, I feel like the pressmen, who are very agreeable to my face, are rounding the corner and laughing, "Oh she THINKS she's making a difference...little does she know all of the waste are going to become her samples".

On Jan.14.2004 at 11:44 AM
Ginny ’s comment is:

Oh, and in my head...all of those pressmen have French accents and and a long-ashed cigarette in their hand.

On Jan.14.2004 at 11:46 AM
david e.’s comment is:

one of the few good things about the in-house position i have now is being able to work with a purchasing agent who has a vast knowledge of printing. he does most of the dealing with vendors, and there's almost never a need for me to do press checks.

at previous positions i would do press checks for certain jobs, usually the larger jobs that were thought to be more important. like marian was saying, any jobs with duotones usually needed to be checked on press as well.

My only really bad experience happened early in my career at a small agency with a 24 page, 4 color brochure for a university (a large project for us). There was a bad scan of a photo which looked fine on screen and on the match print, but when printed had a "posterized" look in the darkest areas. The printer told me that the problem was in the film (which had been output by a separate prepress provider), but that when the ink dried it would not be very noticable. foolishly, i signed off on it. then I returned with the press proof and explained what had happened. by then, the ink on it was completely dry and looked even worse. i felt like an idiot and got quite a bit of hell from my employer.

On Jan.14.2004 at 11:59 AM
Mark’s comment is:

I've gone in on the occasional weekend or late night presscheck but most happen in "reasonable" hours. If possible I chose a printer within a manageable distance from the office too - but have done the 1.5hr drives for a check, only to have to come back 4 hours later.

I always do press checks for big jobs - AR's or anything with special inks, heavy coverage etc. Thank goodness for digial printing - courier me a 1 off to sign off on. What a day saver!

Having clients join can be very advantagous too. Not only do they also approve the job on press but you can really demonstrate the value of your experience to them - especially if the first proof looks like garbage and a quick suggestion solves everything - but often its just dragging your butt all the way down there just to say "yup, run it"

nothing is worse than having a client force you to use their crummy printer. We've had some uncooperative union printers who were very unreasonable about press checks (like not even wanting us there) and downplaying our suggestions in front of a client. Not a fun situation.

No horror stories come to mind, I've pulled jobs more than once but nothing catastrophic (thankfully)

On Jan.14.2004 at 12:02 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> I've pulled jobs more than once

Pulling jobs off press is a lot like returning a wine bottle at a restaurant. You just hate to do it and look like a snob.

On Jan.14.2004 at 12:07 PM
bernadette’s comment is:

Midnight on Printer’s Row. A bunch of us were doing a whole lot of nothing. The printer had created plates of files I hadn’t proofed. I found a mistake. (To give the printer credit, they had an evil machine, which had dropped out some text in the file.) There was no prepress guy because the boss had sent him home after working overtime thinking things were hunky dory for tonight’s run, so no new plates for me. Cancel print run.

I had been sent all the way to Chicago from California for only 2 days to proof the colors, but the only thing I could approve was a printed cover and hope the print rep would be able to make sure that the blues in the book didn’t skew towards the magenta.

I go home pretty confident things will work out. The proof comes. The blues are good — no magenta. But everything else was pretty bad. The main content of the book was pictures of teeth for our dental audience. Most of them came out looking green. I was told it was a matter of the normal skewing of colors over the course of the press run and that it would be “too hard” for the printer to keep stopping the presses to check to make sure colors were exactly right — “especially since they didn’t have any signed off color proofs to work from”. I was there. They had created a match print of what I had and I never noticed any green teeth. I noticed the purply blues and that’s what I called them on. And aren’t printers supposed to have pride in their print quality? Not only that, but blues on 2 separate pages that were the exact same formula came out as 2 different shades.

This needs to be fixed, as this was an expensive project. Our job gets pulled off the queue as we try to work things out. Meanwhile, the day of our training, in which these were the text books, is fast approaching. We do a stop gap measure, where they will bind books from the bad print run, send them overnight to 75 individual sales reps. Were we trying to save money by going to this printer?

Things are still pretty fresh, as this project is still not complete. I’ve just looked at proofs that looked good and am hoping the book will turn out ok. Wish me luck.

Oh, and moral of the story: Do NOT do a big, complicated job right before the holidays.

On Jan.14.2004 at 12:17 PM
ryin’s comment is:

oh boy, yeah, i had a doozy last november...4 color 100 page salesforce workbook/catalog for an outdoor gear manufacturer, so color matching to fabric swatches is THE main issue...we picked a printer based on past references for another print rep, mistake number one. our print rep was not with it, up until the last days of the press check he still wasn't getting the client name right! but i digress, the press check...unbeknownst to us they quoted the job to run on two different presses - one of which was farmed out to another printer since the printer we hired had to sell their larger heidelberg because of the economy...again, news to us until it was on press, i really didn't think i had to ask if it was all going to run on the same press...so the only press our printer had was a one 11x17 signature, while the offsite press was a 5 signature sheet...they were completely unable to match the colors from the two presses and i ended up pulling the job twice and sending it back to prepress. the dot gain and shape were from a different planet entirely than everything that had run on the smaller press...eventually they got the two semi-simpatico, but there was still a shift. we got so behind schedule we just had to get it as close as we nih, we're not using them again.

On Jan.14.2004 at 12:26 PM
Valerie’s comment is:

I usually go to press checks, and because we print a magazine with usually 128 pgs or so each issue, it usually ends up being two days of being awakened at 2:30 am to check a signature only to have a paper break which they say will take 15 minutes to fix... usually ends up taking an hour and a half. I haven't had too many nightmares on press. Fortunately we work with a really good rep who knows his stuff. Occasionally, when doing evening press checks, we'll go for " a beer" which usually turns into a few so by the time the next signature's ready, all I want to do is sleep off my buzz.

I think my worst experience was my first issue as an art director when we had a paper break, or paper jam, or some other problem on almost every signature so what should have taken 12 hours ended up taking three days. Three days of being stuck in a horribly decorated customer lounge.. with no cable.. and nothing to read.. in the middle of smalltown Ohio. I learned to always bring a couple books and to pack enough for an extra day.

On Jan.14.2004 at 02:35 PM
Matt’s comment is:

I've never actually been to a press check (my employer won't pay to send me) - which might explain some of the reruns I've had to order.

My favourite horror story involved no less than 3 different printers and 4 separate runs - and this was a one-colour job. It was my employer's annual report and was a beautiful job with duotones and 3 inks total. I sunk countless hours of overtime and a great deal of love into this baby. Then the board of directors decided on the eve of the print deadline that in order to show fiscal restraint, we should print on a Black & White laser instead of offset colour. No amount of pleading on my part would change their minds, so I spend the entire night dismantling the duotones and trying to make it work in B&W.

When it comes back from the printer, there's toner falloff everywhere and we have to send these out to investors. So we pick the best ones to send and send the rest back for a rerun. Same thing the second time round. So we go to a different printer. This time, heavy dithering in the images and tyhe printer says there's nothing they can do. BS. Go to another printer and do it offset. Perfect.

Can't say I have high hopes for this year's....

What I don't get is how some printers can look you in the eye and tell you that it's unreasonable to expect their press to match their proofer... Amazing.

Anyone else encountered this?

On Jan.14.2004 at 02:58 PM
griff’s comment is:

Press checks are the single reason I have become a pure web designer.

Occasionally I miss killing a few brain cells with the intoxicating ink and chemical fumes.

On Jan.14.2004 at 03:14 PM
laura’s comment is:


Two weeks ago I sent a ONE colour job to press. Metallic silver 877 on navy cardstock. Simple enough. I phoned down to get a press check, the printer laughed shittily and said "we don't do press checks", what the? I should have known better than to stray from my press guy, he's so pricey, and at this point I couldn't turn back. I made buddy verbally promise that if the silver didn't pop, give it another hit or I'll send them back. Oh he gave it another hit alright...silver explosion on paper. Nothing was readable, and yet he had the odacity to neatly package them into this special box and send them my way. Come on now. The press gods must have been watching, and I'm back to my regular guy again. Money can't buy happiness is bullshit.

On Jan.14.2004 at 03:23 PM
Mr. Jones’s comment is:

Great topic...glad to hear other press check horror stories. I have had the (mis)fortune of attending web press checks (3 days of hell in Armpit, USA) as well as smaller press checks. Reprints I usually do not bother to check.

When I was new to design...I worked as in-house creative at a printer to learn printing process and am glad to have had the experience. Now I know when a pressman is pulling lame excuses out of his ass and have actually called a few on it.

My most insane print job was a 10 hour press check for 1 wine label. Dies were wrong, special match colors weren't right...in the end the job turned out great but it took time and patience to get it there. I scored a days worth of primo meals in snooty restaurants (Napa, CA)...the printer was trying to take my mind off the mishaps.

From my experience most pressman really care about the quality of the finished piece.

On Jan.14.2004 at 04:17 PM
amanda’s comment is:

i do presschecks as often as possible. I have had instances where press dude comes into the little boring room and they are using completely wrong pantone colors.

One time I chose a placement pantone & picked the actual pantone at printing time, without changing the digital artwork. Should be simple enough, I mean the plate was fine. They specified the change on the press docket, but the pressman ignored it. Never doing that again.

I love making pals in the pressroom. It's such a nitty gritty yummy smelling place.

On Jan.14.2004 at 04:38 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Up until a couple of years ago my weirdest press check experience was on a project where I wasn't scheduled to go on the check. I was going to be driving past the printer a couple hours after it was supposed to go on press so I said I'd go early, drop in, and join the client. When I got there the client wasn't there and they told me it was running a few minutes behind. They stuck me in a room with a giant table, two of their promotional brochures, and a water cooler. An hour and a half later I decided not to be too late for my appointment so I started to leave. (I had no idea how to find anyone connected with the job.) Someone came out and asked what I was doing. I said I was leaving. He said "What about the press check?" and I said it wasn't my problem. He told my client (who showed up two hours late, thus just in time for the check) that I was the biggest asshole they'd ever met.

A couple of years ago a client decided to try using a printer neither of us knew anything about. Their prices were amazingly low. I later talked to other people who said they were awful but they didn't have a story to match mine.

Before the press check: The job was, supposedly, a rush. I dropped off a CD in a major detour on what was supposed to be a day off. It had InDesign 2 files. (This was six months after InDesign 2 was released.) They waited four or five days and told me they didn't have InDesign 2 because nobody used it. I got them PDFs. (I had also given them laser separations with crops and color prints. This was for a super-simple two-color job.) When I saw proofs the bleeds weren't bleeding. They said they'd correct it.

When the job was finally on press (two weeks and change after I got them "rush" files) the pressroom was so dark it was almost impossible to see anything (like the fact that they changed the meatlic color to flat.) They had corrected the bleed problem by moving my type. ("Just a quarter of an inch" explained the prepress guy. When I told him that, as a general rule, designers didn't take kindly to people moving stuff on their work, he shouted "I wouldn't know that because I've only been doing this for fifteen years." Since the project was now way late I said it was okay. A designer friend of mine who was visiting had come along with me. He quietly asked me if there was time to delay the printing. I told him that the job was late already. The account exec overheard and started telling me that it was on time. I calmly said that it was better to not discuss that since I was already mad about the other screw ups. He said "If you can't control yourself I'll have to ask you to leave." It got weirder and more screwed up from there.

On Jan.14.2004 at 08:21 PM
Gerardo Reyes Jr’s comment is:

Well. I'm currently a (letter)pressman but a designer by trade. So I'll offer the non-designer side of the story.

Man, sometimes we get some whacky specs. Especially with letterpress! Like, white ink on colored stock. The paper just soaks it all up and you're gonna pick up the texture of the paper on top of that. If bright white is crucial, foil-stamp the white. Metallics: Will be less metallic than offset printing, something to do with the metal particles getting pushed into the paper and not having time to rise to the surface to dry. You instead see more of the base vehicle that these particles float in. Although, straight 877 silver and 871 and 874 gold show up well on very dark stocks; more so than on lighter ones. Huge solids combined with type on the same form? A nightmare to letterpress! You need to drown the press rollers to cover the solid, so you're going to make the type look too dark and gushy with ink. Not a pretty sight if you care about type. 2-sided letterpress: You're pushing through one side and you might just end up pushing it right back and flattening it out depending on the design. You could back off of the "sqeeze" but then again, I thought that was the point? If you need to print on both sides you'll have some show-through (bruising) on the opposite side.

The ultimate letterpress no-no is coated stock. Trust me... Never consider it.

So you see, there are many variables when going to press, especially with specialty processes.

Glad to say, we don't switch stocks or colors on clients, and when we offer any advice or recommendations on enhancing the jobs, they are well received.

On Jan.14.2004 at 09:07 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I think it's time for some props. Darwill Printing has the cleanest facility I have ever seen. It's almost a pleasure doing a press check with them.

> They stuck me in a room with a giant table, two of their promotional brochures, and a water cooler.

Ha! Every major printer has one of this rooms. You could be there for hours, and hours, and hours… and if you screamed, nobody would listen.

On Jan.14.2004 at 09:10 PM
Gerardo Reyes Jr’s comment is:

If the pressman running your job is in front of you, the polite thing to do is to introduce yourself and shake their hand, (even if you think they might not speak English well). My co-workers and I have printed jobs for designers with bad manners who think its OK to ignore us and and carry on as if we're invisible. Talk to us! Chances are we know just the right thing to get the result you want to acheive. Sales reps or shop owners don't print the jobs, we do.

On Jan.14.2004 at 09:22 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

I once designed an identity ON PRESS for an avant-garde music client. First, we had to find a printer willing to do the job because it required using other clients' plates. To avoid copyright issues we looked for plates that were generic enough -- a different job for each color -- then mixed and matched in a Rauschenberg-ian spree.

Soon enough, the pressmen were so enthusiastic they were running the sheets through the press a couple times. The client ended up with a 10-color identity.

My first design job was at a cosmetics company -- designing perfume packaging. We would find ourselves throwing mica chips into ink founts for a pearlized effect, printing on 100-year-old gravure presses, or spending a whole day to match Paloma Picasso Red.

The worst job was printing those dammed scented inserts that used to come with credit card bills. The scent is distributed from open vats of glue mixed with concentrated scent via an actual garden hose (high tech!). The slurry of stinky goo is drizzled over the sheets in-line between the 4-color and the folding.

Since the print run was comprised of several forms (2-3 different promotions), in the hundreds of thousands, we would print well into the night.

Now imagine the odor created by hundreds of gallons of perfume.

Certain lines were less desirable than others. I spent much of my time working on Drakkar Noir; not the most subtle scent and compounded when overseeing a press check.

On Jan.15.2004 at 12:18 AM
Adam Waugh’s comment is:

M. Kingsley--

I bet that 10-color experiment was one of the coolest looking things ever.. I'd love to see it if you have an image of it..

On Jan.15.2004 at 01:47 AM
Nick Mucilli’s comment is:

We bleed, sweat, and cry into the work we do. Isn't it worth the extra effort to always make sure it comes running off the press exactly as we've created? I've driven from Denver, CO to DesMoines, IA for a press check before...complete bummer, but I ended up having a few drinks with the printer while I was there. These guys were great, and now either of us will bend over backwards for each other to get a job done right.

On Jan.15.2004 at 10:14 AM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

Just to make sure nobody thinks my horror stories are representative, I get along well with printers, almost never have trouble with any printer (even fairly lousy ones) when I can communicate directly with them, always get along with pressmen (even the one at the psychotic printer I described before), and have been treated graciously by every printer I've dealt with over the last 25 years save the two described above. Nobody else has ever stuck me in an empty room with nothing to do. A very few others do seem to want to keep designers out of the press room and just bring things into a lounge to sign off on. (I try to avoid printers that do that.)

On Jan.15.2004 at 12:56 PM
Mark’s comment is:

ever go for lunch with your printer - man, they know how to drink!

On Jan.15.2004 at 03:41 PM
Matt’s comment is:

Yeah - just to help offset (Ha Ha) some of the negativity here...

I used to work for a print shop (Prepress tech in training) and I've got a lot of respect for press operators, having seen what they do and worked along side them - most really know their shit.

On Jan.15.2004 at 05:14 PM
Cheshire’s comment is:

Though most of my work is HTML nowadays, I used to design primarily for print, so I've been on a number of press checks. Generally, I love doing them, if I'm not too pressed for time on something else. I love talking with press operators, and I think I'm a pretty good client. To be good on a press check, you have to know how to ask for what you want from the press operator, and you have to know what imperfections you can live with and which ones you have to stop the press for.

I wouldn't press-check everything (and never 1-color jobs), but it's important to do checks at the beginning of a relationship with a printer. I had a hell of a time with a new printer (who was forced on me because of budget) doing a four-color job that should have been a snap. We're talking 1-to-2-hour checks on a simple four-page pamphlet, because the pressman couldn't get the registration or color even nearly correct. I was dead set against using the printer again, but once more I was forced into it. This week I did three press checks with a different pressman (but on the same press), and I spent maybe 20 minutes total. It's the kind of thing I probably wouldn't check again, if I know it's the same pressman.

My first major press check: At my previous job we did a 16-page season brochure every year, and it was pretty much my first full-color job ever. We selected GAC in Portland, Oregon (I'm in northern California). The first year we did it there, the rep and I flew up for a late-morning check, but there was a problem job on the press in front of mine. So we went to lunch. They still weren't ready when we got back, so I hung out in their client area, drank sodas, ate cookies, and watched hockey playoffs. Still nothing by late afternoon, so I took a walk. Then out to dinner (yes, reps sure do know how to drink). Still not ready. Played billiards for a while. Still not ready. Went to the (very nice) hotel, fell asleep. At 3am I got a call from the rep --finally ready. So from 3:30am-5:30am I learned what doing a press check was all about. Despite the delays and the hour, it was a thrill. And I got a weekend in Portland out of it. Of course, I didn't get up until noon the next day.

When press operators know what they're doing, I think it's one of the most fun things to do in design. And you get to go home with a stinky press sheet (or sheets). What could be better?

On Jan.15.2004 at 05:45 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Late to the discussion here. But it's a good one -- close to my heart.

I've always done press checks. I've had fun stories, horror stories, weird stories. To date, I've never seen a perfect job -- meaning a job that went to press without some sort of proof change or press correction, whether it was minor color issues or major plate problems. I've had problems at printers that have had to call in their ink house, their Heidelberg specialist, their paper mill rep. I've had plate problems, paper claims, etc. I've even been shown how to "scrub" the plate to hand-fix density problems. On numerous occasions, I've had access to prepress/sci-tex stations to make last minute changes to a plethora of bewildering problems. To this day, at almost every press check I do, there's still a good chance that I'll encounter a new issue I've never seen before -- most minor, some major. It's amazing how many variables are involved in the process.

I have lots of respect for pressmen. Most really know what they're doing, and take pride in their product. But it doesn't mean that they always see what designers see. It's not a rip, just acknowledgement that there's a big difference. Pressmen see ink densities, dot gain, slip, stretch, grain, opacity, fit, grain consistency, etc. In contrast, designers see strength, softness, balance, mood, hierarchy, and a number of things pressmen will never notice. Both sides may be looking at the same form, but they are judging it based on completely different terms. Good printing isn't always good design, and vice versa.

A press check is the one and only chance for the designer to see ink on paper. Nothing, not even the best proof, can truly substitute that. But what most printers don't grasp -- which I have to remind them now and then -- is that a press check is also a courtesy that the designer is performing on behalf of the client, for the sake of the printer. Some printers take the attitude that press checks are a bothersome formality to placate the designer -- "It's a simple job, we can handle it." To which I always remind them -- "Great, I'm glad you'll take responsibility for it then. Cause if there's a mistake, a hickey, a misalignment, an incorrect ink density, any number of mistake -- then you'll assume all liability and will reprint the job until it's right. Or...you can call me, and I'll be happy to look it over, and assume the responsibility instead." It's not a threat, just the reality. Remember that a press check is really a supervising function you're performing for print production.

> You can kind of guage your value by the time of your press check

I concur on your theory Marian. Big jobs, big clients often take precedence for press scheduling -- so it's indeed a pecking order. Being an out-of-town client often helps too. We print a lot out of town -- all over the country. The fact is, when we travel to a check, the printer will do his best to schedule tandem, on-time runs so that we'll be in and out as fast as possible. Less hotel costs for them. When I print in town, I always seem to have these drawn-out checks that last for days -- because they know I'm easily accessible and available at a moment's notice. It always pisses me off to be taken for granted so.

Now, on the positive side, do I have some hum-dinger stories about print reps, their generous hospitality, and traveling with clients. Woo-wee! Excuse me while I enjoy the flashback....still enjoying.....

....Nothing I'd put down in print though. Sorry :-)

On Jan.20.2004 at 01:07 AM
Steven’s comment is:

Okay, at the risk of "caboosing" this thread...

I agree with Tan on a number of points.

I haven't had too many bad experiences with press checks. I think that this is because I make a concerted effort to interact respectfully with the guy (yes, unfortunately, I have never met a female press operator) running the press. I take the attitude that the pressman is my partner in generating a successfully printed piece. His expertise and knowledge are there to help me. I also let him know that I understand that it's impossible to have every aspect of a job come out perfectly. There are always some small details that are compromised for the greater good. However, I then delineate the things that are important to me in a rough hierarchical list. And I adamantly stick to these and will hold up a job until they've been met. Fortunately, the vast majority of pressmen, given the respect they deserve, will really respond positively to these challenges.

Sure there are lousy printers, who will never do good work. But I would guess that these outfits probably don't get a lot of repreat customers.

And yes Tan, when you frame the value of a designer presschecking a job in terms of avoiding a messy, recriminating reprint (and the resulting monetary loss), printers are inclined to be receptive.

Also in agreement, any proof of a job is only a rough estimate or guide to the issues found on the actual printed sheet. And, there are inherent inaccuracies to the proofing mediums themselves, as well. Ink on paper is quite literally a very fluidly dynamic process. Frankly, from my own experience and even within some of the messages in this thread, a lot of designers just don't understand some of the fundamentals of printing and color. For example, I have personally experienced a "creative director" actually hold up a PMS spot color chip to a computer monitor and asked me to match it with a process mix. (If you don't immediately see all of the ludicrous assumptions and mistakes in doing the above, you need to learn more about the printing process.)

One horror story I'll recall was doing a promotional brochure for a printer in barter for having him print my stationery system. Fortunately, I had my stationery printed up first, which I had to kind of ride him to get acceptable quality (even though there were lots of rejects hidden in the official count). But pathetically, when it came to printing his OWN brochure, he did a horrifically bad job of it; and then never even put it together. All of the energy and outside creative I enlisted was a total waste of time. I was so disgusted with him that I never spoke or worked with him again.

On Jan.20.2004 at 05:38 PM
Lorretta Kenyon’s comment is:

As a female pressman...I can tell you that I take great pride in my work, And there are alot of stories of press checks by publishers who are over your shoulder with a opaquing pencil and negative, or the one that likes to take the waste out of the bin without our knowledge because it's "free". And THEN try to get credit for bad copy...glossy stock proofs for an offset webpress...But most of us care.

On Sep.05.2004 at 06:27 AM