Jan 28

Trying to get multiple pieces of literature to clients all over the planet?

Boy, do I have a solution for you!

Many of my clients have locations (retail storefronts, offices, dealers or distributors etc) located all over the US or Worldwide that they need to supply information about their product or service. I see my clients having all sorts of trouble with this.

Home office manufactures the product.

BENEFITS

DOWNFALLS

Utilize bulk purchasing pricing. Requires floor space for storage.
Consistent messaging. Product mysteriously walks off due to lack of monitoring.
Brand standards are always met. Inventory suddenly runs out resulting in loss of sales or costly rush reprints.
Vendor loyalty and relationship (I know some of you are saying this doesn’t exist any more but it does). Administrative time to package and send out product around the country.
Multiple vendor products are available in one location. Often times a manual tracking system is used making it challenging to keep track of shipments.
No ability to customize on demand.
Local office has to wait for business hours to order necessary product.

So here’s another scenario. Some of my clients are creating the artwork and emailing it or sending via CD to multiple locations. Let’s review the benefits and downfalls of that.

Home office creates files and distributes digital art to locations.

BENEFITS

DOWNFALLS

Never run out of materials. Higher price per piece cost.
No concerns about inventory management. Extreme loss of quality – I always see these printed out on their ink jet printer.
Customization can be done, often times with a VERY classy hand stamp or label!! Brand standards are inconsistent.
Basically hands the headache to the local office, causing frustration.
Home office still has to manage ad-specialty and other vendor products.

So what if I told you there is a solution available RIGHT NOW that addresses every single one of these issues? It provides all of the benefits and solves all of the downfalls. Surely, your saying, “Oh no Michelle, that can’t be true!”

  • Yes it is. Here is what I do and I do it well.
  • Consistent brand standards.
  • Professional consistent quality.
  • Bulk purchase pricing.
  • Simple and automatic inventory management.
  • Customizable inventory reports and alerts.
  • Online ordering 24/7.
  • Multiple access levels, pricing tiers and payment methods.
  • Customized website through your web portal.
  • Dedicated vendor relationship. (Yes, that would be me! :) )
  • Customization available on printed pieces (no more labels! YAY).

 

Call me to make a lunch date: 214-796-1581

Dec 21

A few tips for a Holiday filled with laughter

Ok, I am a bit of a joker. I LOVE to laugh and play games. Here are a few of my favorites to spice up the holiday and make sure that everyone’s bellies ache from laughing so hard.

The Pregnant Turkey

The night before, pre-cook a cornish game hen. When your hostess isn’t looking, insert the cooked hen into the Turkey cavity. WARNING, you will never live this one down. I am still paying for this joke from 4 years ago.

The Never Ending Gift.

Find a bunch of nesting sized boxes, the more the better. Put the gift in the smallest one and gift wrap every single box, putting it into the next larger box. This is EXTREMELY funny when you have a TON of boxes – like 30. This works particularly well where each family member opens the gift, one at a time while everyone watches.

Pristine Christmas Tree

Have a family member who is VERY proud of their all white light pristine tree? Take a few of your blinking light bulbs and replace them into their tree when no one is looking. They won’t notice for a while but when they do, the look on their face will be priceless.

The Largest Gift – Needle in a Haystack

Go to Sears and ask for an empty refrigerator box. Ball up lots and lots of newspaper in individual pieces. Wrap the gift (hopefully pretty small) in newspaper.

The Loudest Gift

Purchase a kazoo (or any other really loud instrument) and wrap it. Put the gift with your nephew’s name on it right on the hood of the car after everyone has arrived at your home. The child will HAVE to open the gift on the way home.

Duck Taped Gift

Purchase a roll of duck tape and use it as wrapping paper. Be sure to hide all of the knives in the house before the gift opening commences.

My advice: have fun, don’t worry about your diet too much, drink plenty and really LISTEN to the laughter. It’s contagious and will add years to your life!

Have a VERY Merry Holiday Season.

Dec 09

What do you mean “low-res” images? They look great on my office printer!

I hear this a lot from my bleary eyed clients after pulling an all-nighter to finish their project on time. They find great images online that precisely communicate their message and utilize them in their design. There are a couple serious challenges to using these images that often result in costly hold-ups and serious frustration for you.

The first and simplest of problems is this: if you took an image from the internet, you don’t own it! It’s not your property to distribute without the rightful owner’s permission. It doesn’t matter where you found the image.  Unless you possess the lawful rights to the image granted you by the lawful owner, it is illegal for you to mass produce or distribute that image PERIOD.

The second issue is image resolution. Professional printing requires images of 300 dpi or greater for optimal reproduction whereas internet images are typically 72 dpi.  When you use an internet image in your file, it will make your image look either very blurry or jagged around the edges. It will stand out like a sore thumb if it’s next to a higher resolution image. Trust me, I just got a mailer from one of the premier printing press manufacturers in the world with a low resolution image on the first page. Can you believe that? I should write the president.

So why do those low-res images look ok on my printer?

Simply put, the method by which your office printer works uses different and much less precise imaging. It’s like the difference between a Top Fuel Car and your passenger car. One isn’t better than the other, but they have very different purposes. The Top Fuel Car is going to have more precise jetting and fuel/air mix ratios, high performance tires, and many other things to make sure that car goes down the track at the highest speed. Your every day vehicle is reliable comfortable, perfect for it’s intended purpose but that purpose is not going 300 mph.

What if I take my internet image into Photoshop and increase the resolution?

You can not “Res-up” an image. Once the image goes down in resolution, it can not come back up in resolution. Take a single red square of paper (this represents a pixel) and cut it into 4 equal squares. What color are all the smaller squares? Red, of course! You now have 4 red squares (or pixels). No matter how many pieces you cut that pixel up into, they are still all the same color.  However, the paper pieces are smaller and smaller.  If you try to “Stretch” the paper out again, those pixels become more visible to the naked eye resulting in jagged edges.  You may be able to blur the image or dull the image to help hide the problem but there is no real solution to fix a low-resolution image.

So Michelle, how do I get the quality images I need?

  • When taking your own photos, use the highest pixel setting on your camera.
  • Download your images into a specific folder for original images.
  • Make copies of the originals when working in your project so you can revert to the original if you make a mistake or you require a higher resolution image.
  • Purchase photographs from a “Stock Photography Company”.

Stock photography is usually very reasonably priced and easy to use.  Simply browse the website of the company and select your image.  Download a low-resolution copy and use it in your project.  The image will bear a watermark that upon your purchase of the image will go away in the final high-resolution download.  Pricing for images is typically based on the size of the image so pay careful attention to sizing your image correctly as you work.  A few of my favorite sites are www.dreamstime.com, www.istockphoto.com, and www.shutterstock.com.

Now my file sizes are GINORMOUS and hard to work with.
Isn’t there a better way?

Sure is! As you are designing your piece, you can resize your images down or create low-resolution images. If you are working with a page layout program like Adobe InDesign, your previews will already be low-resolution. It’s important to size your images to 100% before you send it to your printer.

When I was a Print Production Manager at CS Creative, I would pre-flight my own files before I sent them to my printer.  After EVERYONE signed off and there were no additional changes, I would then calculate the size of the image, re-size it and then re-import it into my page layout program so it was 100% of size. Yes, this seems like a cumbersome effort but it is a step that if you’ve taken in the process, helps to avoid those ugly pre-press charges that everyone hates to see on their printing invoice.

If you are sending “Print-ready PDF” files to your print vendor (which is the preferred method in most cases), the above process will ensure that you are sending the smallest PDF files possible. If you are “Collecting for output” from your page layout program, this will keep your “Images” folder as small as possible as well.

No one likes prematurely grey hair. Paying attention to image size in the early stages of your design project will ensure a smoother process for you and your printer. This will ensure a better relationship between you both and keep your unexpected fees to a minimum.

If you have any other questions post a reply.

Dec 01

What is RGB, CMYK and PMS and why do I even care?

You care because it will save you money!

If you dabble in your own photography, you have probably heard of RGB. That’s the color space that your images come into your photo editor. CMYK at first glance may not be familiar but if you have a color printer at home, you know how outrageously priced all of those cartridges are to make that printer work. Those are CMYK cartridges and I will explain that acronym later. Most likely, the only PMS you have heard of is from those awkward TV commercials selling a pain reliever of some sort. This article will remove some of the mystery.

RGB – Red, Green, Blue.

This is the color model used for displaying images in electronic systems such as monitors, TVs and projectors. This color model REQUIRES the presence of light. That last statement is the key ingredient and I will reiterate. It requires the presence of light. Paper does not have light.

CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black

Ok, I know your saying to yourself; “The word Black does NOT start with a ‘K’!” Why does “K” stand for Black in this color model? Well, most will tell you that blue was represented with “B” and so they used blacK, the last letter of the word. However, this is untrue. “K” stands for key. The other other colors, CMY, must be keyed or aligned with Black in a very precise way.

PMS – Pantone Matching System

Sorry to disappoint you but I will NOT be talking about water retention solutions in this paragraph. Pantone is the company that came up with the system that the printing industry (and subsequently other industries as well) use as a standard color system. Designers, Printers, Advertisers, and manufacturers can all refer to this one standard book (published annually) that standardizes colors.

So Michelle, why do I care about this at all?

Well, good question. Have you ever created anything that you were going to send out somewhere (other than your home/office printer) to be mass produced? You most likely have. Did you pay attention to HOW you created that file, be it created in Adobe InDesign, Quark or Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher or even just an Adobe Acrobat PDF file? If you didn’t, you may have spent MORE money to print your job than if you had paid attention it that detail. Yes, sadly, this little detail can cost you money if not done correctly.

Rule of thumb, printers want your files submitted in CMYK. There are some exceptions to this but your commercial printer NEVER wants your files in RGB format at all. Period. The files will have to be converted to CMYK no matter what. Commercial printers can not print RGB files and they will charge you the time that it takes to make this change for you. Even your home printer automatically converts RGB files to CMYK. Strangely, the more sophisticated equipment that your print vendor has isn’t always an automatic process.

How you change from one color model to another is a process that varies from one program to another. Some programs (like many Microsoft Office products) don’t allow you to change the color space at all. In those situations, it is most appropriate to provide your vendor with a PDF file where it is converted to CMYK. It’s always best to check with your print vendor to find out exactly how they want the files. It is my STRONG advice, that you do this BEFORE you design your piece. This can save you countless hours of redoing work, again, saving you time and money.

We would be happy to take a look at your file and provide you with the information you need for most efficient printing. Click here.

Happy designing!

Nov 22

I’m Thankful

As we approach Thanksgiving this week, I am enjoying taking some time to ponder what I am truly thankful for.

Like you, I am thankful for my health, my family and friends, my happiness and the things that enspirit me. I am thankful for the brave servicemen and woman (including my stepson) who are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom. I am truly thankful for those things with all of my being.

However, I know that I am different, unique and abnormal by some standards and I am thankful for that as well. I have learned to embrace my unique spirit and perspective on life and my work. I am so tremendously passionate about what I do, about meeting people with unique needs and finding solutions that exceed their expectations.

I wish you all the most wonderful of holiday seasons and find yourself surrounded by the things that really matter to you, those things that are really important. I especially mean the things that you can not purchase in any store or online catalog.

Happy Turkey Day

Leave me a comment and tell me what you are thankful for.

Nov 16

A Beautiful Morning

If you have managed to sneak a peak at my new site, you are amongst the privileged. I have just gotten this started as you can see. So you might want to give me a call (I say that like a Yankee; kawl).

214-796-1581