Print quality is everything, if the printer isn’t up to the task of color fidelity then your perfectionism is for nothing. Perfect example are a handful of projects that I submitted for the spring exhibit at my local college, there were some incredible pieces that I worked really hard on while there were a few others that just naturally came together. Some of them didn’t look as good on paper as they did on the screen.
I thought all of them were guaranteed to at least receive a nomination for an award. There was one that I just “knew” was going to win. As a freelance graphic designer there are times when something needs to be printed professionally so your best work will look it’s best. I know that sounds like a cliché and it’s right out of a horrible ad from the 1960’s (something Don Draper or Dick Whitman would throw out with his empty rye bottles.) but if a printer or their equipment is horrible your work is going to look horrible.
When I went back to get my pieces that were rejected I took an extra moment to look at them. I mean really look at them. All of the pieces that I entered and were rejected had horrible print quality – they leaned too hard on one hue or didn’t reproduce the picture fidelity I was expecting. I was angry at myself thinking that the numerous sins of not taking care of the printing myself elsewhere would be forgiven by the fact that everyone’s pieces would have been printed on the same printer and would look “just as bad,” too.
In years earlier I took my best pieces that I knew were worthy of being nominated and went to an outside print shop and actually worked with the printer and it’s operator to get the best quality out of my work. The best inks, the best processing, and eventually the best cutting and trimming to the crop marks. There’s at least one Achievement Certificate on my wall because I took the time to make sure the final product came out right.
This might sound crazy but I feel as if I betrayed some of my best work because I didn’t take the time nor money to get my work printed elsewhere. I skimped and my work suffered and I used the excuse that I was “too busy” with other projects to get it done right! I wouldn’t have done that for one of my clients or employer, why would I skimp on myself?
My advice for myself and everyone else in this position is that maybe it’s time to invest in in a new high quality printer. I’m not (necessarily) talking about an actual printer that sits in your office but an actual printing service where someone makes a living out of printing professional products. Making content is what we do for a living and we depend on folks to pay us for the work we do for them shouldn’t we “pay it forward” by seeking out someone who prints out our content with the best equipment their money can buy.
Doesn’t our work deserve the very best?