How to Work in Print Production

The print production field can be an excellent choice for someone who is interested in printing, publishing, design, and even sign making. Print production managers are responsible for all final checks before a design piece goes to print and generally work very closely with other departments. Some departments that the average print production manager might work with include public relations, the design department, and media. However, just who you'll be working with will differ depending on whether you work with a large company, a small one, a college or university, or another type or organization. That's because this job can include a lot of different duties and responsibilities, which vary according to what's being printed. However, there are a few things that a print production job will always do.

People working in print production are responsible for making sure that layouts are ready to be printed and are correct. They are also responsible for handling the printing job itself. They must be able to work closely with others, must know their job requirements, and must be extremely detail oriented. Their job includes a lot of proofreading and getting approvals from others. Since deadlines are a common feature of print production, this is a job that can be high pressure from time to time. While the average person in this kind of position works normal hours and a standard forty-hour work week, part-time positions exist, and overtime may be required for specific jobs. This means that the actual number of hours worked per week will vary by position and possibly even seasonally.

Someone who's going to work in a job of this kind is going to need to have a good knowledge of paper and printing. Don't make the mistake of believing that there aren't very many options. Paper alone comes in thousands of different types, colors, and finishes. Some people even require special classes to help them understand all the options available for print stock. However, the majority of people in print production work with only a few. If you'll be working in a printing house, you'll need some papers for everyday use, some for special occasions, and some for specialty jobs. You'll probably need to work with card stock, vellum, and ordinary paper, and colors may be important as well.

In addition to paper knowledge, you'll need to have a good understanding of color, design, and the actual printing process. An art and design background can be a real help, but it's no substitute for experience. You'll need to color match the original sample with the finished print and understand what changes need to be made if the first print does not match. Remember that certain inks will behave in different ways on certain papers. You'll also need to pay attention to the quality and type of files you're given. Sometimes a customer or other department wants something that simply cannot be done. An eye for detail is vital if you're going to work in this area, as you'll need to be able to spot the tiniest changes.

This kind of job is also likely to require you to work with print suppliers, if printing is not going to be done in house. The printer that will be used by your print department or by the printer you're working with will depend on the kind of job you're planning to do. Large jobs, like books and magazines, will be printed on web machines, while small posters or stationery designs will be printed on sheet-fed printers. Large poster runs, signs, and other unusual items are likely to be screen printed instead of offset printed. If this is likelihood, you'll need to understand the screen printing process as well.

Generally, people in print production will be required to okay a press run if they're in a position to do so, or to find the person capable of approving the run. The color of a proof must be checked to make sure it matches. If it doesn't match, a new one needs to be run. This process can take a long time if the equipment needs to be adjusted extensively. You'll need good negotiating skills to make sure that you and your print supplier or in-house printer are communicating correctly. You'll have to be able to get quotes or budget estimates when doing print buying, as well.

Print production is a fast-paced job that can be very stressful, but it's also extremely gratifying for many. After all, you'll get to see the finished product of all your labor and design work. For some people, getting to see their book or ad in print is a really satisfying feeling. If you think you're the right choice for a job in print production, you should take the time to check out more specifics. You might have the education, skills, and talents it takes to work in one of these jobs. This can be an excellent position for a candidate who has a detail-oriented personality, a good understanding of color and design, and the ability to work effectively with people.
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