A Strong Relationship Between Designer and Printer


There’s this idea that in order to produce high-quality print, one must have clients with deep pockets. I was a paper rep for many years and I can tell you some of the best print projects I worked on didn’t have huge budgets. In fact, it’s often just the opposite. Producing great print is not about having a great budget, it’s about having great relationships. You can tell a lot about the relationship between a designer and print rep by the quality of the project’s print production. When production details are so well executed they blend synergistically with the design, that’s the tell-tale sign of a strong relationship between designer and printer. And this was the case with the NewBridge 2017 Annual Report.

The annual report was designed by the creative agency, Little Jacket, Cleveland, Ohio; and produced by AGS Custom Graphics – an R.R. Donnelly Company, Macedonia, Ohio. Both companies are well respected in the creative community, and with good reason. They produce amazing results, pay attention to the details and work with their partners to make sure the end results are successful. Sounds simple, but actually accomplishing it is another thing. Especially when we’re talking about print. After all, when you break it down, print is customization from conception through to completion. And that requires all parties to play an active, communicative role from the onset of the project.


Some time last summer I got a call from Christian Woltman, the designer at Little Jacket working on the project. He had some questions regarding paper options. So he dropped by the studio to check out samples, but the thing that was different about this visit – the designer came prepared to show me what he wanted to do.

NewBridge is a community based arts education and career training center. The design of the annual relies on editorial photography, bold type and a pop of color to tell the story of its connection to a vibrant community, enriched by education and practical application. Christian wanted to make sure that all the design elements reinforced the indie vibe of the non-profit’s brand messaging. And he knew paper selection was critical to supporting these elements.


Christian came armed with a print sample (one of the Mohawk Maker issues), to better communicate the feel he wanted the paper to have. He intentionally sought to use an uncoated paper in a lighter than normal basis weight for an annual report. He wanted a paper with a little bit of tooth to it and that would work well with the modified-tabloid size of the piece. After spending some time reviewing paper options he returned to the studio armed with samples. A few days later, he requested a dummy made to size before making the final decision on paper specs: Mohawk Via Vellum in 60# Text Cool White.



Once specs went off to the printer, he worked closely with his print rep, Brian Zak. This is where the magic happens. Brian is not one of those reps who’ll push to switch the paper to a house stock because it’s “easier.” Nor is he willing to settle for “good ’nuff ” because that’s all the client asked for. Nope, Brian is one of those print reps who is a partner in the process – from beginning to end.

Brian recognized how important it was that this piece retain its indie vibe and worked hard to make sure the print results reflect that.


Since the annual is printed on an uncoated sheet, it’s not a “set it and forget it” kind of job. Brian made sure the curves were set up properly. This is especially important when printing on uncoated papers which can be prone to dot gain. The annual also features large areas of solid coverage. Solids can often be a source of mottle when printing on recycled uncoated papers. But Brian was on top of it. The ink lay is smooth and even in the solid areas. The cross-overs were clean and crisp. The opacity looked good, even with the fair amount of white space. Show-through was minimal and there was zero offsetting.



I love seeing real-life projects like the NewBridge 2017 Annual Report. It re-affirms people obsess about well produced print. And you can bet the creatives behind these projects are the ones who have the best relationships with their print reps. They’re smart enough to know great design is only half the battle. When it comes to print, success lies in the execution of the details. And a good print rep will do everything in their power to insure the final result is on point.

This project is featured in the current issue of The Parcel, a quarterly subscription box filled with inspiring paper, print and design samples. If you’re a designer or print rep working on a particularly interesting print project, drop us a note. We’d love to feature it in The Parcel.

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