The Designer’s Guide to Navigating those Reality Checks

An art director offers his advice for dealing with the inevitable speed bumps on the journey from design idea to printed reality.

We’ve all been there. We have a fantastic, knock-it-out-of-the-park, show-stopping, idea for the client’s next project, and they can’t help but love it. Right? 

“Nine times out of 10, the client will get the pricing and say, ‘Uhm, can we try another option?!’ Cue the ‘Price is Right’ loser sound,” writes Derick Meyers in the IMG blog. “Now your heart is crushed because those were going to be the greatest mailer cards ever in the history of mailer cards, and you’re also out of time.”

Meyers speaks from experience. As an art director, he says he has a “strong drive to create timeless work with enduring impact.” At the same time, he’s faced with the challenge we all deal with – how to make that lasting impact given the realities of the project’s budget constraints. 

“Thankfully,” Meyers continues, “we have great people and vendors all over Dayton and the Miami Valley who have served this magical industry for a lifetime. They have a deep knowledge of products and techniques because they grew up in the business, and their knowledge is invaluable. They want us to lean on them for insight, and help us make the right choices based on our design desires and our clients’ goals, budget, and delivery.”

He’s spot on there – this kind of solid relationship with your vendors is critical to getting the most out of any project, and we love his advice to pick up the phone and talk to them. (We tell our clients that all the time!)

This has always been good advice, and it’s become even more critical as paper and printing technology change at the speed of light. What was out of reach just a few years ago can now be a real possibility. 

As Meyers points out, these technical innovations give us more – and while you’re busy keeping up with design and marketing trends, your vendors are working hard to stay ahead of the curve as well.

“Once in a while, try to keep up with what’s happening out there in the paper and print world through things like trade shows or special events so you can stay updated with new production techniques and products that can enhance your design,” Meyers suggests. That’s a great idea. More importantly, talk to your production vendors to be sure they are up to date. Ask them what’s new, what might work for your client’s needs, and how they are integrating technology into their processes.

Meyers has additional recommendations that will help you navigate the design process more fluently. In addition to staying in touch with your vendors, he suggests building your own mini-library of paper sample catalogs. He also encourages us to consider when a high-end paper would have made that big impact, and when you can economize a bit more.

“We are lucky to have so many options and capabilities to produce our creativity,” he continues. “Your choice of paper is just as important as your choice of printing.” 

Stay in close touch with your vendors, so you can truly provide the kind of results your clients seek. And know that when it comes to a platform on which to unleash your creativity, we’ve got your back.