How to Work with Printers

Take It From Me: Recap | Session 2

Even in a digital era, a lot of things still get printed. For the second event in our Take It From Me design practice series, we visited the team at Ambit Creative to help us demystify the printing process.

Meeting the Ambit Team. Photo: Carly Hagins

Meeting the Ambit Team. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

Covering all aspects of printing, from what process is right for the job, to setting up files properly for production, to what actually happens at a press check, attendees heard both from various members of the Ambit team. To start off the night, everyone got to meet with the team over food and beer kindly provided by Ambit and Harpoon Brewery. Once settled, we split into groups for a tour of their space, learning about the roles of the different staff members and teams; interacting with the tools involved; and getting a chance to look at some finished printed pieces.

 
Talking with Prepress. Photo: Carly Hagins

Talking with Prepress. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

With the prepress group, we got to learn about how best to work with your printer’s team when working on a designing a piece. Hint: Get your printer involved early and often. It will save you a lot of headache and back-tracking later, and your piece will come out that much better for it. The team gave tips for how to prep your files and how print requirements can differ from web use. They also discussed how to prepare for mailing projects (make sure you stick to USPS standards and guidelines, another thing your printer can help you with). We also got to look at example storefront solutions for clients.

 
Reviewing Paper Samples. Photo: Carly Hagins

Reviewing Paper Samples. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

With a paper rep, we got to look at paper samples and see first-hand how the stock you choose can affect your printed piece. We got to look at stock of varying thickness and textures, along with different finishes.

 
Large Format Printing. Photo: Carly Hagins

Large Format Printing. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

Another stop on the tour focused on digital presses and large-format printers. We saw pieces ranging from simple packets, to tabbed reports, to large-format signs and banners. They also provided examples of different mounting techniques and materials, detailing how best to use them depending on context and need.

 
Reviewing Mounting Samples. Photo: Carly Hagins

Reviewing Mounting Samples. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

In Ambit’s offset department, we learned offset printing works with their two-color printers, as well as how screens are prepared and used (with some actual screen examples). We learned about the differences of digital printing and offset. They also demonstrated how to adjust colors to keep them consistent when printing pieces across different stocks and finishes.

 
Red Ink Canister. Photo: Carly Hagins

Red Ink Canister. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

We also got to see and work with ink before going on the presses.

 
Press Demonstrations. Photo: Carly Hagins

Press Demonstrations. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

One of the press technicians demonstrated their 4-color offset printers, letting us go up and see and the mechanisms behind the machine. We learned how sequencing the application of ink can affect the final result along and the different way to achieve a continuous tone in your printed colors.

 
Q&A Session. Photo: Carly Hagins

Q&A Session. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

After the tour, we held a brief Q&A session so attendees could ask any additional questions. As a parting gift, Ambit provided everyone with a bag of samples, and a the knowledge and resources to help communicate with printing vendors.

 
Print Samples from Harpoon. Photo: Carly Hagins

Print Samples from Harpoon. Photo: Carly Hagins

 

Thanks again to Ambit Creative and Harpoon Brewery!

Follow AIGA Boston for news on the next installment from Take it From Me: How to Craft a Great Resume, coming up in March. We’ll be hosting a panel at a local studio to discuss how designers can best present themselves though a resume and self-promotion.

About Take it From Me

Take it From Me is an event series organized by AIGA Boston giving students and emerging professionals the opportunity to interact with established professionals in the design field. This initiative will encourage engagement and discussion through a range of events — including workshops, panel discussions, roundtables, lectures, networking events, studio tours, online activities, etc. — that address different aspects of the design discipline.

These events will provide newer designers the opportunity to ask questions, seek advice, and participate in career development focused activities, while giving established designers the opportunity to support the emerging design community. The Take it From Me series will create a structure that is self-perpetuating, providing tools and support for younger designers to develop rewarding careers and become tomorrow’s leaders.

Read about our first session, Take it From Me: How to Photograph Your Work


Originally published at boston.aiga.org

Nick Di Stefano