Three Things Printing Has Thought Me About Team Work.

A couple of years ago when I became fully aware of how printing and everything around it works, having grown up in the midst of people who knew and talked about prints, the first most important thing I learnt was the importance of the four basic colours that stand as the pillar of print projects, the subtractive colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black(commonly referred to as CMYK by the printing industry) It is on this principle that the entire printing industry runs. Even when you buy your colour deskjet printers, you will need CMYK cartridges to product full colour prints. All shades of colour and image prints are products of the CMYK colours accurately overlapping on each other to mix and form the respective desired pixels of every image. Your business card, your photo books, logo mugs, banner prints and printed boards are all products of CMYK colours accurately overlaid on each other to produce your print image. I also learnt the various stages of any print project: Pre-Press (which involves everything you do before printing i.e plate making, film making etc), Press (which is the actual print process where your image is actually printed on your paper/card stock) and finally post-press which is the final stage before shipping which may include laminating, folding, binding, stitching, embossing etc. I have learnt so much about team work from this entire print production process and workflow that I finally decide to share.

A full colour flower print and its corresponding CMYK colour seperations (Source: www.lightspeedca.net)

1. Every team member is important.

Just like no color is more important than the others in a CMYK process project. No team member is inferior to the other. The Chief Technology Officer may be a top level employee but this doesn’t make the junior developer less important. Everyone brings something to the table. When you take away any of the CMYK process colours from a print project. The entire output is messed up. This in most cases happen to teams too. This is why ensuring everyone is onboard is very critical. Companies where everyone can someone tends to get more done that the ones where there a layers of importance.

2. Team goals must align

The word registration is used to explain the process of ensuring the CMYK colours are properly aligned and overlapped to form a single image(“register” in printing terms). Team goal alignment is critical. Everyone must know what’s going and why they are doing whatever they doing. A print project with it’s Cyan Magenta and Yellow properly registered (aligned) and the Black slightly shifted will come out bad. This is why you see some prints with blurry images and texts with part of their colours bleeding out of the other.

This is what a print project without registration look like. Source: Wikipedia

3. Trash early

The best place to spot errors in any print project is while designing in. The next best place at the pre-press stage before you actually start printing. The further down the production line your error is discovered, the more catastrophic it becomes. The worst point to discover a print error is after it has shipped. This is why teams must commit time and effort to talking through projects before embarking on them. Trashing features that are not necessary instead of just building for building’s sake. Trashing early helps you save time and money. Compare discovering a typo in the head copy of your print project after it has shipped to discovering it just when you were about to make your printing plates. You would have saved yourself the cost of plates, printing, paper, laminating film, packaging and more importantly the expensive time committed to shipping it. This is why you should trash early to avoid shipping trash.