Having started my career at the Jack in the box as a finished artist, I have well and truly learned the importance of good finished art. And I don’t mean fantastic graphic design, well designed business cards or even an original logo design. What I am talking about here is meticulous attention to detail in the final file that gets sent to the printer, signwriter or web programmer.
There is nothing better than creating something beautiful and having the client love it too, but there is equally nothing worse than getting your masterpiece back from the printer in a form unrecognisable even to yourself. There are many simple processes that a graphic designer can employ to make sure the only headache they suffer is from too many glasses of wine the night before.
Starting from the basics – logo design. It’s all good and well to work on a logo using fonts, outlines, multiple colours and masks; but once the design has been locked in by the client, the design should be locked away too. Fonts should be outlined, outlines should be solid objects and the pathfinder tool should be used for all it’s worth. PMS colours should be embedded and any unused colours deleted. The logo should be as simple as it can possibly be, the less mess, the less confusion for anyone who has to reproduce it. A final logo should be just that – final, something you can pass on to the client or service provider to use without any doubt it will always look the way you intended. As a client, you shouldn’t put up with anything less.
As for print files, there are any number of things that can go wrong with bad final art, but as any good graphic design agency knows it’s easy to avoid. Knowing your colour spaces, layers and fonts, along with a little bit of research into PDF settings can go a long way. Most print houses, large format printers and newspapers have profiled their printers, so there really is no reason to get this wrong. Ask and they will give generously, uploading these files to Acrobat Distiller is really quite a simple process and well worth the effort. And for those who don’t have their own profiles there is always 3DAP, the universal PDF standard. Given the technology we now have available to us, there is no excuse for bad finished art.
So if you are a designer, even if you have your own finished artist, take time out and learn about what makes good finished art. Having now moved on to bigger and better things I can assure you, your design skills and your clients will reap the rewards.