It is very common in our industry to see clients that have elaborate graphic design work for their materials, as an attempt to differentiate themselves. Although, it looks ‘great on paper’, it can be horrible to clients’ bottom lines.

ProjectCenter currently has a job for business cards that is going end up costing the client nearly $1.00 per card (1000 units = $1000). That is NOT good, and the client was upset when they discovered that they had taken been down a rathole in their design work. Some of aspets of the job were the client’s fault, such as wanting their cards laminated. Where the big money came into play was the color selection that the client made with the graphic artist. The colors were so out of the normal selection, that the client was forced to do Pantone Match when they went to print.

Pantone Match is function by which the client chooses a color on a color swatch, and each color is numbered. That number gets presented to the printer, and they manually match the color before the printer sends the job to press. Logically, if they manually match colors, or even if they have to simply switch to this special color, then the printer charges more for that service. Normally, we could have sent a job like this one to digital print, costing far less in the process, but that job ended up becoming what is known as a “Spot Color” project, which is charged per color. Also, Spot Color has other charges, such as “Close Registration”. Close Registration is where the 2, 3, or 4 colors on an art piece touch each other. Printers have to process these jobs one color at a time, meaning they print one color, and then run the product through again and again for each color they add. In order for the project to look good, they must line up the job perfectly so colors that are supposed to touch each other do not overlap in the process. If there is an overlap, the project gets thrown in the garbage and they start over from square one.

Had the designer known about the print aspect of their business, they could have consulted their client of the cost they were going to bear by having special colors, etc. By not consulting the client, they made themselves look insuffient, and that is a shame because the artwork itself was rather nice looking.

Consider this: Either work with a designer who is also a print broker, or make sure to run graphic art ideas by a print broker before closing on an art project. Look at this way: I make no business decisions without talking with my lawyer AND my CPA, because they will probably have two different answers. If I only talked to one of the two, I would end up doing something wrong, costing me time and money.

So utilize your resources!


ProjectCenter is a single-source service company providing marketing and document solutions to small, medium and large-sized businesses in the U.S. area. ProjectCenter is based in Phoenix, Arizona and its services include graphic design, web design, printing, copying, scanning and mailing. For more information, please call (602) 252-6655 or visit


There is one comment for this post.

  1. designmoorehead on July 29, 2007 12:58 pm

    Well said. It doesn’t matter how good the project looks on screen, if you have a problem with output, or the final medium in which the piece will be used, the design is inert.

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