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The Designer’s Role in Print Specification

Color Specification

Regardless of the medium, graphic designers are able to magically turn ideas into artistically stunning works of graphic communication. When the medium is digital the magic is all in the design and how it functions. In this case the designer is provided with the specifications including dimensions, resolutions, whether the design is for computers or mobile and if it needs to be screen size responsive.

When the medium is print, the size, shape, texture and more are in the hands of the designer. Of course budgets, organizational direction and distribution requirements such as postal regulations must be taken into consideration. But unlike fitting a design into a particular display size in digital, the print designer has a nearly endless array of options to choose from to meet those requirements.

In short, when a design is intended for physical printing, the designer’s vision extends beyond what will be printed to what it will be printed, how the finished product will feel and how it will function. A graphic designer working on a printed marketing material project is a critical link between concept and production within your marketing supply chain. That is why it is imperative that designers are involved in developing the specifications of projects with which they are involved.

Following are some of the areas where designers are deeply involved in the specifications of printed marketing material projects:

Bringing It All Together

The relationship between designer and specifications is immediate. As soon as the designer learns the needs, goals, requirements and ideas behind the project and begins conceptualizing it; the foundation of its specifications begins to form. Designers are also responsible for ensuring brand consistency including colors, typefaces, logos and more that become part of the project’s specifications.

In addition, because they are putting all of the pieces together, designers are often central to the collection of copy, photography and other elements used in the project that ultimately impact its specifications. Perhaps nothing is more important to specification building than the vision the designer has for bringing all of these elements together effectively. The format, shape, size, number of pages, placement of folds and more, all of which are critical specifications, are determined by the designer.

Taking Form

The designer’s work, and involvement with specifications, is not over once the layout has been created. Great print designs are more than just the layout; they include the surface upon which the layout is printed. With a seemingly endless array of choices in weight, texture, composition, color, surface and even material; a print designer’s vision can have as much impact on the tactile impact of a project as the visual.

A designer can even play a role in an organization’s green initiatives by basing their concept around eco-friendly stocks and inks which, of course, must be clearly defined in the project’s specs. Beyond choices in paper stock and the ink that goes on it, a designer also knows what embellishing or finishing is to be used. Processes like embossing, thermography, foil stamping, die cutting, scoring and varnishing all make printed communication stand apart from other media. To achieve the proper impact, they must be applied exactly as the designer intends, making another area where the designer involvement is important.

Wrapping it Up

Even after the designer has compiled the package of design, font, image, color and instruction files for the project and they are sent to the printer for production, their role is still not done. From proofing to on-site press checks, the designer’s inclusion in the production process ensures that their vision and the specifications derived from it are being adhered to in the final product. It is only when the finished marketing material project is delivered on-time and to perfection that the designer’s involvement with it can be truly considered complete.

The significance of the designer’s role in the creation of print marketing materials cannot be denied. The significance of their role in establishing, and ensuring follow through on, the specifications of the project, is equally vital. After all, trust has been placed in the designer’s vision to execute the message, why wouldn’t you want the individual who knows that vision best to make sure it is reflected in the end?