Prepress Consulting - what do you think?

CathieHarris

Well-known member
I've been thinking about this for years and wonder what you all know and think about this idea...

Starting a prepress consulting business where go around to different companies and/or print shops and teach prepress. I can tell you that medium to large companies really, really need this service as we all know how many times files come to us not camera-ready.

With the current cloud situation, and probably trying to go to more of a PDF format, it's even more imperative that the designers in companies get it right the first time.

What do you think? Does this even exist right now?

Just wonderin'
Cathie
 

brent

Well-known member
I think it's a great idea! The local art college were one of our clients, and they liked how much I helped them out with their files. So they offered me a teaching position as part of their graphic design degree, teaching prepress. I had that gig for 4 years. They had a changing of the guard at the college and since I didn't have a teaching degree I was canned. :(

Prespress techniques should be taught in EVERY college art program! The files we get today are ridiculous!
 

CathieHarris

Well-known member
Problem is, I don't have a degree. I've only been doing this for 34 years, though. LOL I didnt' even think about how helpful it would be in art colleges, but since I don't have a degree I was thinking about selling to corporations and mid-sized companies.
 

dabob

Well-known member
I agree that it is badly needed . . . but every "professional" designer (except for a couple, which proves the rule) do not want to hear what they are doing is wrong. They are very happy creating a 88 page book in illustrator, since that's their comfort zone, they embed all the photos, don't supply fonts or images so you could at least have a chance at fixing their files. Over the years some mom and pop design types have listened and learned some good techniques but 99.9999% of them just throw the files at you and expect you to print what they see through their screen and in their head - most of the time neither have any basis in reality.

Nobody likes being told they are doing it wrong and they sure don't like paying to hear it . . .

Just my 2 cents!
 

CathieHarris

Well-known member
That's very true dabob, thus I've never serious considered it. After all, I started out as an "all-seeing, all-knowing" graphic designer. But I bet their bosses would see things differently when they find out how many times a file has come back from the printer because something needed to be changed. It would have to be about opening the eyes of the boss, not the designer.

However, after three spine surgeries, I'm not willing to do this as I'd have to stand and move too much. It's just always been a dream to teach these kids how to do it.

At a printshop I used to work for, our client was Westwood College and they'd send us files with no bleeds, RGB images and white logos that knocked out all the time. Just try telling them their files weren't camera-ready - AAAAARGH!
 

dabob

Well-known member
Cathie . . et all . . .

Their bosses are worst of all - after all they hire only the best, my rating (Personal opinion 1-10, 10 = best )we have dealt with Academy of Art Teachers 1, Major Advertising agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area 2-3.5, UC Berkeley 1.5 (theres a story there) their designer had us spend 4-5 hours adjusting color on press . . . then 4 months later she brings the same image in and expected us to fix it on the press again . . . . Some people won't learn and others can't

Mostly there needs to be a position in the agencies that just checks the outgoing files to make sure they will work - but then wouldn't we all be outa work then . . .
 

Alith7

Well-known member
So here is my theory on this... There WERE firms out there that that is ALL that they did. They preflighted your files before they went to the printer. As far as I know, almost all of them are now gone. The few that I know of are still stuck on neg and plate technology, or they are for Flexo printing (I think they are still needed there to be honest, but I don't know).

Yes it would be GREAT if there was a demand for that. But it will never happen. Those designers who do things wrong are "designers". 99 out of 100 don't give a flyin flip on the reasons...they just know what they want and it's your problem to "make it so". The print shops can't/won't change. Most of them have a prepress person who is "GOD" and can do no wrong. Either that, or the owners can't afford or won't fork out the $$$.

Now, from what I've gathered, the one area of prepress, sort of, where there IS money to be made, is if you have a good eye for color, and a good head for color management. THAT shops will pay through the nose for! And, if you can get into the slot, maybe you can try to educate at the same time.

anyways, that's my 2 cents...wish there was a need for it though. I don't think it would take my job away...I think it would take a small chunk of the stress down though.
 

FileJockey

Well-known member
Educating customers is a moving target, we find. As soon as they understand the processes and guidelines another graphics person (or administrative assistant) takes over and you have to start from scratch. If you are going to implement a curriculum around graphics production for design shops or other content creators, it should come with strict warnings about shop-wide standards.

Even then, your own guidelines and best practices will change (don't know how many times I tried publishing Red Sun Press File Preparation Specifications for customers only to find a new version of Quark or InDesign made my screenshots obsolete.) Right now I think just getting every customer to really understand bleeds would be a major victory. Even muttering PDF/X-1a (yes, we find this to be a good standard for our workflow) over and over to customers and customer service people never got many folks to send things correctly.
 

JoeatData

Well-known member
When I first started within the digital end 20 years ago there were a few consulting firms within the area. I couldn't tell you if they even exist any more.

The way I see it, a non-printing company won't put out the expense for services. They already low-ball for services and cause bidding wars to the point where you have no if any profit margin just to get them in the door. They don't pay the right people the money they deserve so that's why we get poor files as we do now. A prime example of this is the recent RE:print "Preflight Poker." I have clients that can't get it right after 4-5 times and that's after I give them a pdf cheat sheet with instructions.

As for the printing company's..again the bottom line is money. It's how fast you can get it out the door and for as little cost possible. Training for prepress? Really? Do that on your own time........that's been the statement from a few of the past company's I've worked for.

I do believe your right. I think there's a market for Prepress Consulting. I believe that both printing and non-printing both could benefit from such a service. I just think there's a slim market for it. Ok, maybe not a slim market, but only a select few that are willing to pay for services.
 

CathieHarris

Well-known member
Well, I agree with you all. Between the egos of designers and their managers, the attitude of "the printer will take care of it" and the "just make it happen", there's a feeling out there that it's just not needed.

Anyone that works in a printshop KNOWS it's needed, but you can't convince those that think they know what they're doing because "I got a degree from The Art Institute!"

Degree this...
 

Alith7

Well-known member
Well, I agree with you all. Between the egos of designers and their managers, the attitude of "the printer will take care of it" and the "just make it happen", there's a feeling out there that it's just not needed.

Anyone that works in a printshop KNOWS it's needed, but you can't convince those that think they know what they're doing because "I got a degree from The Art Institute!"

Degree this...

My FIRST interview question:
"Do you have an interest in prepress? Or would you prefer to design artwork?"

or something phrased similar. those who would rather be Designing go in the reject pile. I don't have time for artistic drama queens.
 

CathieHarris

Well-known member
I actually bee asked that question before. Depending on the position, the answer varies, but I'd always stress the importance of prepress even if I said I prefer to do design work. After all, they should go hand in hand. It's kind of like baking - sure, decorating the top is the most fun, but you have to make the cupcake first!
 

brent

Well-known member
What we have done in the past a couple times a year, is kind of have an open house at our shop for our recurring clients and their designers. We walk them through the printing process and the pitfalls that can occur along the line. It's amazing how many designers have NO clue on how the printing process works! They love the "tour."

We give them a short tutorial on file prep and requirements of our shop. We also show real world examples of screwed up files and how they can be fixed. And most importantly, we show the clients how to print out seps to their printer to check for tagged color inconsistencies! LOL.
 

dabob

Well-known member
So here is my theory on this... There WERE firms out there that that is ALL that they did. They preflighted your files before they went to the printer. As far as I know, almost all of them are now gone. The few that I know of are still stuck on neg and plate technology, or they are for Flexo printing (I think they are still needed there to be honest, but I don't know).

Yes it would be GREAT if there was a demand for that. But it will never happen. Those designers who do things wrong are "designers". 99 out of 100 don't give a flyin flip on the reasons...they just know what they want and it's your problem to "make it so". The print shops can't/won't change. Most of them have a prepress person who is "GOD" and can do no wrong. Either that, or the owners can't afford or won't fork out the $$$.

Now, from what I've gathered, the one area of prepress, sort of, where there IS money to be made, is if you have a good eye for color, and a good head for color management. THAT shops will pay through the nose for! And, if you can get into the slot, maybe you can try to educate at the same time.

anyways, that's my 2 cents...wish there was a need for it though. I don't think it would take my job away...I think it would take a small chunk of the stress down though.

Alith7 . . . As I recall they were called Service Bureaus and we, "The Print Shops" put them out of business when we brought image setting in house - up until then it was their problem to get us film we could use . . . there are still some out there but they are mostly gone or have transitioned to a digital shop and still provide plates/film for shops that won't make the jump themselves . . . . I was a stripper until we got our first imagesetter 20+ years ago - then poof I was a digital professional and had to make all the fixes our film house did before - All in All I like having the control over my output!:)
 

Alith7

Well-known member
Alith7 . . . As I recall they were called Service Bureaus and we, "The Print Shops" put them out of business when we brought image setting in house - up until then it was their problem to get us film we could use . . . there are still some out there but they are mostly gone or have transitioned to a digital shop and still provide plates/film for shops that won't make the jump themselves . . . . I was a stripper until we got our first imagesetter 20+ years ago - then poof I was a digital professional and had to make all the fixes our film house did before - All in All I like having the control over my output!:)
Same here...Only my transition was 10 years ago. But even back then, I WANTED to know how to make my files right. I know, I was a strange duck.
 

cseas

Well-known member
i've been doing this for almost 30yrs now. i can count on one hand and remember the names of the designers who new their stuff and even took the effort and interest to call me and ask, and want to learn, how to properly prepare a print-ready file.
and other times where i would argue with the CS Rep or Salesman that a designer was getting paid $$$ and we were having to completely rebuild the file to get it to work. the attitude of just get it done here, to save time. arrrgh!
i would think, wow, these guys are making easy money! the clients getting ripped off. their paying $$$ for a design that's being completely rebuilt! i mean literally rebuilt sometimes.
it would be nice to educate a designer on the back-end of the process. but then perhaps that would completely eliminate the prepress species. :)

"You got the file to work?! Thank you PrepressGuy!"
"Just doin' my job mam'.. To the light-table!"

(Light-table? now i'm really dating myself!)
=D

cheers!
 
Yeah, Consulting is a profitable business and a well speaker can earn well depending on skills and efficiencies. Lots of companies and business attached with consulting services and earning well.
 

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