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How long have you been in the printing industry?
I came into the printing industry in about 1987 and have worked in a variety of areas. I started in the bindery department shrink wrapping, doing hand work, and running equipment. From there I moved into plate making and then film stripping. That led to electronic imposition and now I am in electronic prepress.
Knowing the production side of printing helps me with my role in prepress. It is important to understand how the bindery equipment works and the functions of the press. My job is to process files provided to us by clients, output those files to proof, and then to send them to the press production ready.
I have been with Vision Graphics for 15 years in July. I enjoy my job. I like that it’s challenging with a wide variety of projects. I get to work on everything from corporate brochures, to variable data jobs, to packaging work, and I also maintain a few of our digital storefronts.
How have technological advancements changed the way prepress functions?
It’s been dramatic. When I started in prepress we were shooting art on the camera and stripping film. Now it’s all digitized and we are developing ways to automate our workflow where we can.
The variety of software we use has increased drastically. We use InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat with Pitstop plugins. Not to mention, Preps, Quite Imposing and Freeflow for impositions. Prinergy is the backbone of our workflow with Insight as our prepress portal, which allows clients to upload files, view proofs and make notations if there are any corrections.
What is the process you go through from the time you get a file to the time you send it to production?
If it is a well-constructed, print ready PDF file, it is fairly straight forward. When the file is uploaded to Insite, Prinergy puts the file through a normalizations process that optimizes it for print production. We create the imposition, verify the colors, size, and if there are any bleeds. We also make sure the product matches the specifications on the quote. The next step is to output a proof for final approval.
If the file contains errors or does not match the quote, it could go back and forth between me and an account manager or sales person multiple times. We will coach the client on what we need for new files or on how to fix their existing file. We will also fix the file for them if they chose.
We prefer print ready PDFs, that assists us in getting the files through to press quicker, because the files can be automated through prepress. This benefits our customers with tight deadlines, but not all products can be automated. When we are working on a piece that involves spot gloss varnishes, special papers or die cuts we cannot automate those specialty products. Custom products require a more customized process.