Sunday, March 7 2021 - 5:05 AM

Sharing Christ Through the Arts

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The Brave New World of Print

I have been incredibly fortunate to have been associated with the printing industry for over 40 years, and to have personally witnessed the dramatic shift from analog film technologies to the digital world in which we work today. The late-twentieth-century digital transition was traumatic for many in graphics production, from owners of printing companies to pre-press staff and pressmen. The processes and chemicals used in traditional color offset printing had remained unchanged since the 1940s. Though we look at these techniques sentimentally as a “lost art,” the reality is that we can now produce in two hours what previously took days or even weeks. We can also achieve these results with far fewer people. Complicating the industry transition was the EPA’s increasing involvement in regulating processing chemicals and inks to achieve lower levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). I was personally involved with several large film, ink, and chemical companies to beta-test products for a safer digital printing environment.

Those were both exciting and frustrating times, as old technologies were blended with the new. Despite the challenges, we were still responsible for delivering optimum results on each job that came through our shop. In many instances, significant challenges were created by different levels of progress in the varying film and print technologies we were required to use.

Today, the technology playing field between photography and graphic design has stabilized. Quality in the final printed piece is now determined by those behind the camera and the computer’s experience and artistic eye. The role of today’s graphic artist is to make each campaign as individual and effective as possible through word, color, design, and imagery. The talent of the designer is not only in creating an appealing design but uncovering the intent and direction of the client, and translating their ideas into an effective statement. Asking and listening is far more important than your presentation or sales skills when first embarking on a project. Use your knowledge and experience to direct the client toward a result that best achieves their goals via the print process.

The print industry has a few favorite design and graphic software programs that are taught at most schools, but as your skill and experience increase, there are numerous programs that are more cost-effective and easier for the novice designer. They are quick to learn and allow conversion to other “industry standard” platforms. The reality of today’s printing world is that unless you expect the printer to make adjustments or refinements to your design, you will submit your press-ready artwork as a PDF. It will be your creativity and design skills that make the difference – not the software you select to reach your goals.

Written by Victor Hill with Peter Sildve.

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About Victor Hill

Victor Hill

writes from Northern California.

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