How do you find the right magazine designer?

Dean Cook

by Dean Cook, July 4, 2016
Category: Blog,   Tags: commercial printing, compliant standard, hyperlocal, magazine master pages, magazine style sheets, magazine templates, master pages, plonk and place images, pre-flight, pre-flight artwork, pre-flighting magazines, print designer, production artists, production efficiency, style sheets, template master pages,

Trying to find the right designer to create your magazine can be a tough task. Dean Cook says it’s obvious to invest money to develop the templates, branding, format, establishing the structure and aesthetics, but what happens if you find you have chosen the wrong designer?

You may be surprised to hear there are various types of ‘designer’ including: conceptual; creative; illustrative; junior, senior and heavyweight artworkers covering both print and web arenas. However, not every designer possess the same skill sets.

You could find a great illustrative designer but they may have little by way of typographic skills to present pages properly, or you have found a conceptual designer who doesn’t understand the technicalities of printing. Either way you need to ensure you’re hiring the right magazine designer.

Okay, so what signs should you look for when you a considering a designer for your magazine?

 

Don’t be led by price

We appreciate that cost is key but it’s not how cheap you can create your product but how effective the spend is. Ultimately, you don’t need the hassle or deal with problems after the product has gone to print, or find you are not getting the service or response you need. Instead choose someone who can create the right look; deal with the daily production issues; who can pro-actively operate to give you feedback as they make good progress through the pages, yet, more importantly, aim to ensure your job is delivered flawlessly to print on time and produced in budget.

 

Ask your designer; do they have at least three years commercial print experience?

Have they actively worked for a printing company? If so, who and for how long? Key technical experience can be gained here, but according to our findings, 80 per cent of designers have never seen a printing press – subsequently this increases the chances they would not able to supply files correctly for commercial printing. This can easily lead to artwork issues when the document is printed.

 

Has your designer produced other magazines?

If so, how many and for how long? Take note of the magazine titles and call the publishers for a reference. Have they had any problems, no matter how minor? A good established history of producing other magazine titles will prove their ability to deliver the job with ease.

 

Do they create artwork using programs other than InDesign or Quark XPress?

Some designers with limited capabilities have used programs not geared up for multi-paginated documents, such as CorelDraw or Adobe’s Illustrator, only to encounter production issues later. Use a professional who uses the right tools for the job.

 

Watch out for those that simply ‘plonk and place’ images and adverts

This is one area where designers cut corners to save time but it could be you who catches the cold.

A common issue is placing photographic images which are low resolution, remain dark, blurry, or the colour balance clearly isn’t right. This isn’t great practice. We inspect and colour-correct every single image – although this takes time the results are most definitely worth it.

With adverts, the majority may reproduce without issue but it only takes one to catch everyone out and it could affect your advertising revenue.

Before you offer a credit to the advertiser, can your designer explain what caused the problem to safeguard your revenue?

If they can then why wasn’t the problem picked up before going to press? Pretty much all problematic artwork is unintentionally created by the advertisers’ designer hence why we apply a three-point check on every advert that is received.

Remember: the printer can only print what has been supplied.

 

Does the designer work with master pages or style sheets?

This is where the foundation of any document is set. It takes the pressure off to ensure every element (including font styles) remain at a consistent standard. Working with master pages and style sheets is a good indicator of efficient working practices.

 

Does the designer need to use additional ‘safety-net’ software to check files before they send pages to print?

A professional commercial designer would not generally require additional pre-flight software to check files, instead using their experience and knowledge to assess every element and, if required, to correct as they progress through the publication.

Some use third-party pre-flight software to check files prior to file delivery to the printer. Regretfully, this does nothing to educate, eliminate risks, reduce costs, or speed up production efficiency.

We combined the skill sets of a commercial print designer and production artist and honed our craft within publication production. This enables us to deliver professional looking pages to a compliant standard with ease, on-time and in budget allowing you to focus your energies more effectively on your business knowing you have our support as and when you need.

To establish a benchmark why not give us a call on +44 (0)1273 467579 or contact us for a free consultation?

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