Magazine & Palmer Printing

In SCSU’s Art 320 class we were assigned to design a magazine about design. We were given guidelines on subject matter and page layout, but overall given creative freedom. I went through many major design changes through this process and ultimately came out with this:

Art 320_Magazine (Click link for full interactive PDF)

On Tuesday, March 28th, our class attended a trip outside of the classroom to Palmer Printing located in St. Cloud, Minn. We were shown the layout and environment of an everyday professional printing press. It was a much larger space than I was expecting. Palmer offers almost any type of printing on any material you can imagine. They also have a large creative and sales staff that work in the front-of-house directly with clients.

Designers should know and understand the basics of printing. This was made clear to us because even through a designer can come up with the creative product in their head, on paper, or on a computer; the outcome they desire is not always translated through the printing process. Although printers can do a lot creatively, they can’t create the impossible. It is important for designers to have a clear and open conversation with their printer to ensure everyone is happy with the end result.

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Offset vs. Digital Printing

Offset Printing:

Rolls the selected image onto a sheet of paper by first using plates to transfer the image onto a rubber “blanket.” Offset is often used in more professional settings to print large quantities cost effectively. It gives a crisp final product with accurate color payoff. Offset provides a large variety of colors with the option of spot colors, paper types, and finishes. This printing still holds a large grasp on the industry and still prints superior over digital.

Digital Printing:

Instead of large scale rolls, digital printing uses toner or liquid ink. Digital printing, although it is not always the same high quality payoff as offset printing, is much more versatile and easier for the “average user” to understand. Digital is better to use in-house for businesses. As offset produces good quality prints on a large scale, or large quantities, digital printing is inexpensive for making lower minimum quantities. A large strength of digital is the use of variable data. The technology of digital printing is fairly new but has made a tremendous impact on the industry.

Both offset and digital printing are widely used for a variety of reason. Each has their benefits and drawbacks, but give users and customers the end result they desire in different ways. 

Offset Litho Printing

What do designers need to know about printing? There are multiple different ways and styles of printing depending on what the designer wants the end product to look like. The process goes from designer to trade shop to printer. From planning to press to production there are many different steps and people working on what the final product will be.

  • Designers should know basic printing terms to effectively communicate with press workers.
  • Designers should always have in mind the project’s budget and limits. You don’t want to go way out of range of what the client is looking to spend on their project, and you want to keep the project on deadline.
  • Know the team you’re working with and what’s available to you.
  • Proof, correct, and proof again. Print out the work, see what it’ll look like off the computer screen. Have several others look at it and give feedback.
  • After the final press, further details can be added such as trimming, folding, stitching, die cutting, gluing, and binding.

Choosing the Right Font

As a designer, one of the more difficult but simple decisions is in choosing a font. Fonts can make or break the look of a publication, and as far as fonts go, Less is More. Pick a few font families and stick with them, consistency is key for readers. Not so similar that people lose interest, but never put off viewers because the text is just too difficult to get through. Try out different combinations, print pages out and see how they read. Go with function over fashion with type; better to have the reader keep coming back than put an article down over readability. Incorporate art and unique design into your magazine in other ways than with font.

  • Know what you’re working with
    • Get educated on font styles and families, be aware of their purposes

There is an ongoing battle of serif and sans serif fonts. Serif fonts are typically easier to read in print, and sans serif is the go-to for web content. This is because printed works generally have a resolution of at least 1,000 dots per inch, whereas computer monitors are typically around 100 DPI.