Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
advertise @ underconsideration
---Click here for full archive list or browse below
Sweetheart, let me tell you a story…

I recently spent a week in a small city I never imagined I would visit. Fate took me to this beautiful place for a press check. I was supposed to be there overnight and ended up staying for six days. Talk about under-packing!

More important than the fact that Armin had to FedEx clothes to me to avoid utter embarrassment on my part, is the fact of why I ended up there. Unfortunately I can’t reveal the client or the project but hopefully my anecdote can give you enough of an idea to prove my case on this one.

It all started one sunny morning when we landed a new account, and we were to start with a large project, somewhat similar to an in-the-mail-catalog. We had three printers bid for the assignment, paper was put on hold, the works. Our client started to avoid the subject of printing and we got nervous — they were talking to their printer. Although we never saw an estimate from this printer to prove that our numbers were out of league, we were finally informed of who the printer was ten days before press day. We are to talk to the production guy who works for our client with any questions, and he will be the one to deal and communicate with the printer. Not us. Crystal clear. As you can image we were near panic, profane words slamming into each other, curses were more common than coffee and it was normal to see bodies shaking uncontrollably in the hallways. OK, maybe I am exaggerating the situation, but it sure felt like I had finally gone to hell.

We had a big conference call with all the parties involved, talked schedule, planned for press dates, and then a grenade of sorts was thrown in the room and stared at me from the Polycom, waiting silently for my reaction. A special legal department had to review the files before being released, and the file requirements were: Quark 3.0.2, Illustrator 6.0, Photoshop 5.0. As soon as some blood made it back to my brain, and I managed to avoid hyper-ventilation, we got to it. We had no option. It had to be.

Finally I find myself on a Sunday afternoon on my way to the much anticipated press check for the project from hell (although I do like the creative!). We meet (me and my co-worker) with the client representatives and the printer at 9:30pm on Sunday in the hotel lobby. We are eight people. One more is coming tomorrow. Proofs are placed on the table. I start talking with the printer for the first time (about all my issues, concerns, questions, while the clients are distracted with the final proofs), and discover, even though I should not be surprised at this point, that we will be printing on half a web press. Did you even know they existed? I wanted to believe this was a joke, but soon realized I was in for a reality-checking week.

The rest of the printing process went by as expected, a few bumps, a few bruises, many smiles, wary people, lots of entertaining, dinning and more dinning, recurring conversations and finally a finishing toast. As I boarded my flight back almost a month after the real nightmare began, I could not help but think, what did I do to deserve this? Not only do I have a printing related horror story, I also have a file delivery nightmare my grandchildren will hear about, I also have a very jealous client that doesn’t want me talking printing with his selected printer, I have them all in one nicely packed, multiple representative, outdated single client!

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Sep.13.2004 BY bryony
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

Now you need a tattoo, like 'The Fightin' Quark 3.0s' or something, to show your grandkids. Or perhaps a papercut scar from the press: "I nearly lost my arm, but the job got done."

In your place, I would've self-destructed.

On Sep.13.2004 at 08:28 AM
bryony’s comment is:

In your place, I would've self-destructed.

I seriously considered it.

On Sep.13.2004 at 08:31 AM
Rob ’s comment is:

I know about half-webs, really great things when you come to think about it. And the color quality has improved over the years. I should say the beginning fooled me as I thought you were going to share some anectdote about the town itself.

But hey, at least you survived what could only be called a challenging situtaion. And you learned some things along the way. I'd call that a success.

On Sep.13.2004 at 09:09 AM
marian’s comment is:

Good Lord. Did you get the client to sign your own legal waiver forms absolving you of responsibility should it not turn out as expected? I have to say, I would not have been a good sport in this circumstance.

On Sep.13.2004 at 11:04 AM
Tan’s comment is:

This is why I hate print brokers. It's always better to deal with a rep who works directly for the printer.

Half-webs are actually very efficient, and can offer the control of sheet-fed, and the speed of web.

Speaking of FedEx. I have a FedEx curse. Over the last 10 years, I've had 6 of my shipments lost or destroyed. Not late or delayed, but mysteriously lost, without explanation. I even had a shipment that was burned when a FedEx plane caught fire in the Newark airport a few years back. I've known very few people who've ever lost a single FedEx shipment, let alone 6.

To this day, if it's a crucial shipment, I'll have someone drop it off instead of doing it myself and risking the curse.

On Sep.13.2004 at 11:35 AM
Michael H.’s comment is:

Bryony, this is the stuff of legends. Books will be written about this.

And the fact that you can come back today and talk about... you show an incredible amount of composure which is very admirable. I would have drunk myself into a stupor for the week.

On Sep.13.2004 at 01:25 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Re: QuarkXPress 3.0

I'm not sure what the deal is with some in-house departments. At marchFIRST we did an intranet for Coca-Cola and we were all talking one day and a Coke person said that most designers were still on OS 7 and versions 5 of Illustrator and 3 of photoshop. This was around 2001. Crazy.

I'm still amazed that Bryony was able to work in QXP 3. I mean, 4.1 is frustrating, I can't imagine using 3.

> you show an incredible amount of composure which is very admirable

She vented with me…

On Sep.13.2004 at 02:46 PM
Tom B’s comment is:

I've had similar, though thankfully not so severe, experiences. It's often the case that people in large companies feel that the only way they can make their mark is to do things cheaper than their predecessor. This usually means that they want complete control over the entire project. Often they would prefer it if the designers just shut up, did what they were told and left the artwork on a CD on their desk. "what do you mean you've got concerns about the print? - I'm the project manager, not you!".

This attitude comes from inexperience. The people who think like this either learn very quickly, or else don't last very long. Unfortunately, they're always being replaced with fresh faces who think they can make their mark in just the same way.

Designers can only try to retain their composure, and explain in a calm authoritative way, why this strategy leads to delays, costs and mistakes. In the end, clients will recognise our clear thinking.

On Sep.13.2004 at 04:22 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

Where on earth did you find a copy of Quark 3??

On Sep.13.2004 at 04:57 PM
bryony’s comment is:

Finding Quark 3.0 in the office required some digging around but I was successful. Now we have a cube devoted to the that client alone, where we all go to downsave projects done in Q6.0.

At certain points I was about to flip, but I figured the best way to deal with this was to charge, do and later laugh about it. It was either that or loose it, and it was not worth it.

On Sep.13.2004 at 06:10 PM
Anthony’s comment is:

Reminds me of when when I interned at a museum last summer and I had a printer who demanded everything be done in CorelDraw and turned in on PC-formatted zip disks. The museum folks laughed me out of the room when I asked if we had CorelDraw or if we could purchase it. So I downloaded a 30 day trial version, and with about 10 days left until expiration of the trial, I set my computer's clock back by a year (I'm a genius) and went to open CorelDraw, and it refused to open. Expired. Forever. (I'm a dumbass). But everything worked out in the end.

...by the way Byrony, for those of us who are new to the site or visit infequently, we don't know who you are or what your relationship to this Armin person is.

On Sep.13.2004 at 07:12 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

we don't know who you are or what your relationship to this Armin person is.

She's in charge of him.

On Sep.13.2004 at 08:53 PM
Bryony’s comment is:

...by the way Byrony, for those of us who are new to the site or visit infequently, we don't know who you are or what your relationship to this Armin person is.

At this point in my life it is hard to say, I share his table, his sofa, his network and his bed. Although we keep our parents happy with a signed and witnessed marriage certificate.

She's in charge of him.


On Sep.13.2004 at 09:07 PM
frank’s comment is:

JonSel’s comment is:

we don't know who you are or what your relationship to this Armin person is.

She's in charge of him.

hahahaha, that was pretty funny JonSel.

As a relative newcomer to this site,

I only recently learned that Bryony

and Armin are married..I learned of this

from reading the authors section on the

top right corner of the Speakup page...

I must say, I like happy stories!

On Sep.13.2004 at 10:47 PM
ian’s comment is:

not only am i amazed you found a copy of quark 3.0, but that you use quark 6.0. wow. talk about patience. there this little program called indesign you should check out.

On Sep.13.2004 at 11:44 PM
bryony’s comment is:

there this little program called indesign you should check out.

until about a month ago, I had the only copy of indesign in my office, which meant that if I decided to play hooky or stay home sick and something needed to be done on the project nobody there was nobody to fill in (even though we have plenty of designers nobody knows how to use indesign) and get it done. Because of this I am pretty fluent in Quark, speeding through key commands like a maniac! I got used to it I guess.

On Sep.14.2004 at 08:34 AM
Andrew Twigg’s comment is:

We recently had a client who requested that files be sent to India and China for printing (for their international offices). The files had to be sent in quark 3 as well... I didn't think there was anyone else who had to meet this requirement.

But Byrony, you have me beat: we were permitted to send our eps files in Illustrator 8...

Then a few weeks later, another client asked for a layout to be converted to pagemaker for its in-house team. Can you imagine?? :)

And can your imagine their poor in-house team having to work in such an environment? That a party that needs pity.

On Sep.14.2004 at 10:11 AM
sheepstealer’s comment is:

I'd love to see this conversation cover the topic of how people have successfully avoided situations like these. Or has that ever happened in the history of the universe?

We had a similar scenario with an annual report client recently. We got bids from two of the client's printers and one of our own. The prices were very similar so no worries about cost savings. We sent the three bids along with a heartfelt note:

Dear Client Name,

We have been in contact with 3 printers regarding this year’s annual and have received estimates. The printers estimating the project are: X Printing, Y Printing, and TheOneWeWant Printing, all in ABC City. After seeing samples, reviewing the bids, and speaking with representatives from the three we feel that TheOneWeWant Printing will do the best job of meeting the needs of your company and your audience. We’d love to discuss the details with you at your earliest convenience, and make sure we have your approval before awarding the job.

Thank you,

s h e e p s t e a l e r

We followed the note with a carefully planned phone call where we covered the points of our experience with the printer, the color critical nature of the job, and the similarity in prices. We also mentioned that we felt responsible for the outcome of the job from start to finish, not just from start to print release date.

It worked. The books printed at the right place and are beautiful.

This story is real, but it's one “happy” for 10 “sads” that I've experienced in similar situations.

What are your experiences of happy client, happy designer, happy printer? And what tricks were used to achieve such nirvana?

On Sep.14.2004 at 10:34 AM
jenny’s comment is:

Byrony, could the client have saved any money in this endeavor, or was this all a control thing? It seems to me that the costs keeping of two designers (along with the client's own employees) for a week-long press check would outweigh any financial benefits of such an arrangement...

Definitely a story for the record books!

Sheepstealer, like you, I've had some limited success in persuading clients to use printers I've had experience with and that I trust. But it has been limited.

On Sep.14.2004 at 11:04 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> we don't know who you are or what your relationship to this Armin person is.

"This Armin person"? Sheesh, you'd think the boss would get a little more respect than that around here… (just teasing of course).

JonSel, that was funny. Can't debate it.

On Sep.14.2004 at 11:24 AM
JonSel’s comment is:

JonSel, that was funny. Can't debate it.

I just passed my fifth anniversary. Believe me, I know the order of things.

On Sep.14.2004 at 11:43 AM
Joseph’s comment is:

It's safe to say that the local watering hole would have gotten a lot of money out of me that week if I were in your shoes.

"Can you run me a tab please?"

On Sep.14.2004 at 12:20 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

It's good to hear a happy ending story.

I'm here in New Orleans - well below sea level - and we're watching The Weather Channel and this Monster Hurricane Ivan is coming in between here and Pensacola. A wobble here, a wobble there. We'll not survive a direct hit. Maybe it won't.

Then I have a client emailing me asking for making BIGGER product logo sizes in their artwork but I have a great excuse to say no: Approaching disaster, maybe doomed.... I didn't want to change the thing anyway....

On Sep.14.2004 at 12:52 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

I have a client emailing me asking for making BIGGER product logo sizes in their artwork

Try this: Don’t act as if they are asking for a bigger logo. (They probably aren’t.) Assume they want a stronger brand presence. Talk about that. Solve that problem. Don’t acknowledge their specific solution; acknowledge their real interest and give them a good solution.

On Sep.14.2004 at 01:05 PM
sheepstealer’s comment is:


Stronger Brand Presence. Nicely spoken, can I use that?

I think you are bringing up an issue that is very valuable for anyone working in the creative field. Is the client looking for a bigger logo? or a stronger brand presence? — Do they want you to remove a spread from the narrative section? or are they trying to help the flow of the book go faster? — Do they want bigger headlines? or a more clear type hierarchy?

One of the client's I have my best relationship with described it this way. She wants to provide designers with symptoms, not with solutions. She never says “make the button bigger” on a website, she says “We're not seeing the buy tickets button soon enough.” I greatly respect her for her understanding of what a designer is supposed to be able to do.

I've tried to share the symptom-vs.-solution skill with all of my clients, and with many it's working.

On Sep.14.2004 at 01:22 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Gunner, Thanks for the kind advice. I didn't quite make myself clear enough. Sorry. But you're right to make the mental leap to solving the bigger problem.....only they were the newly aquired sponsor, not the direct client. My clients were record producers who needed a cover of some New Orleans music. Funky Christmas music, too. All I did was the artwork. The music producers made a deal requiring placement of their sponsors product on the front cover. Fine with me: Illustrator's are whores anyway.

I'm not objecting to your solution though..... being analytical about it rather than emotional. Solving the bigger problem: balancing between my client's sense of Integrity and their sponsors need to promote themselves. There is a balance. This gets simplified by your approach not complicated. Danke.

In the end - after I wrote that - we upped their ID with a 10% size increase and HALFED their name as it appears. It works. Things are fine.

Now I can go put tape on the window panes and hope an automobile hurled by this hurricane doesn't come thru it. This is good tape!

On Sep.14.2004 at 01:49 PM
Jerry’s comment is:

> …but that you use quark 6.0

Yeah, Quark blows. Future-Modern-Poststructuralists unite and kill Quark once and for all!

Die Quark die!

On Sep.14.2004 at 02:11 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

She wants to provide designers with symptoms, not with solutions. She never says “make the button bigger” on a website, she says “We’re not seeing the buy tickets button soon enough.”

She sounds like someone who is good at managing design projects (including managing designers.) On the whole, it’s up to designers to manage design projects (including managing the clients.)

Less-articulate clients aren’t all morons. Imagine that you are buying a household appliance, don’t know much about them, but are faced with a salesman who seems to be trying to get you to buy something you don’t want. You might end up saying stuff like “I want a dishwasher that sprays more water” instead of saying “This one doesn’t knock all of the spinach off my forks.” Their selling you the same dishwasher with a bigger nozzle in it may not get you clean forks and it certainly won’t get you the best dishwasher choices. If the sales people don’t have enough sense to assume that you’re not just trying to raise your water bill then it’s a formula for disappointment. You will later (rightly) blame the store for selling you the wrong stuff.

(I hope the only hurricanes in N.O. are those awful drinks.)

On Sep.14.2004 at 02:24 PM
david e.’s comment is:

Byrony, what exactly did you DO for 6 days there?...why did it take so long?

The most boring place in the world to spend a couple of hours is the customers lounge area at any large printer. I can't imagine what six days must have been like.

On Sep.14.2004 at 05:32 PM
Bryony’s comment is:

Byrony, what exactly did you DO for 6 days there?...why did it take so long?

well... we were printing a million pieces, 36 pages plus cover with gate fold and perforated forms. The cover alone took 27 hours to print (once I gave the OK to proceed), and then being a half press we could only do 8 page forms.

So I did my client entertaning for the year in those six days, with lots of eating and walking around town (at a snail pace) and even "shopping with the girls" - fact that Armin has enjoyed tremendously, laughing continuously.

On Sep.14.2004 at 08:46 PM
Nary’s comment is:


Thank you so much for that bit on stronger brand presence. I'm working on something right now and the client keeps wanting to make the logo bigger and bigger saying that it's "too subtle" (it's red, on the front cover, and at least a quarter of an inch tall) and that people might not know whose publication it is. frustrated, i was going to blow it up to 200% and splash it across the cover, but now, with your advice, i see how i can solve the problem.

Thank you thank you thank you.

Nary bows down to the wise man

On Sep.15.2004 at 06:31 PM
hijiki’s comment is:

Now we have a cube devoted to the that client alone, where we all go to downsave projects done in Q6.0.

hehe.. i thought we were the only ones with this setup. we have to downsave to 3.3 or 4 all the time. gee, has anyone ever mentioned this to quark? ;-)

On Sep.16.2004 at 11:55 AM