Printers are not Designers

I should start this brief piece by stating one thing clearly. This is not intended as a shot at the many outstanding suppliers I have worked with in the printing industry over the years. Rather it is to clarify a difference in roles that I think many clients and by extension printers miss. The confusion lies in the fact that many printers seem to think that they are designers because they may have some of the same tools as Graphic Designers. Just as having a hammer doesn’t make you a carpenter nor does Adobe Creative Suite make you a designer.

The reason I bring this to light is the numerous times I have had a client say to me “Oh well the printer said if I just send them the files they can modify/edit them”. Well this maybe true if we are talking about changing a date or a phone number but this is rarely the case. In fact it is usually someone trying to turn around a job with unrealistic timeline or cut corners on their budget. Inevitably what will happen is that the work will suffer and nine times out of ten the project will need to be redone. This then leads to more time and money being spent on a project then originally would have been if the correct professional, in this case a Graphic Designer, had been used from the outset.

it is usually someone trying to turn around a job with unrealistic timeline or cut corners on their budget.

There are two main reasons that the above mentioned situation ends up happening. The first is expertise, in most cases the individual that is editing the above mentioned files at the print house is not a trained Designer and as such may not have the necessary skill set or experience to complete the job effectively. Of these skills one of the most important is communication, it is imperative that a Designer can effectively communicate with their client. It is through this communication that major pitfalls can be avoided, some times it is not what questions you ask but how you ask them that can produce the most useful answers. The second reason comes down to good intentions. The printer thinks that they are helping out a client by taking on the work and thus the client will appreciate them and return with future work. The problem here lies in the fact that the printer is taking on a job they are not equipped to handle, this can then have the exact oppositie effect from what they intended. The client ends up dissatisfied with the end result and the printer loses future potential work.

Again as I stated above this by no means is a knock against the many great printers out there. Just as Designers shouldn’t try to be printers, printers shouldn’t try to be Designers. We both want the same end goal, to create great work for our clients. By working togther and understanding and respect what ech brings to the table everyone will succeed. Also, by extension, some times the best thing you can say to a client is “No I don’t have the expertise to do this for you but I do know a great designer that can”, you will be amazed how much more work you will get this way.