Printing Press Check Part 2

Print shops are grimy places from the paper dust, the oil and chemicals. And not good dirty, like camping or gardening. They are the kind of places where you don’t want to put your fingers anywhere even close to your mouth. Everything is usually caked with layers of grime and dirt and human grease that looks like it’s been around forever.

As I mentioned in my previous post this book was a complex and challenging project for several reasons:

1. The project had tons of images that I had to evaluate and try to get to work together without any thing to compare them to. Translation: I didn’t know what any of those images were supposed to look like printed because none of the photographers provided printed proofs of the images. I wasn’t involved in the pre-production phase of the book so I didn’t know if they were asked to provide them. My guess is that this step was overlooked because of time and/or budget constraints, but it's a critical part of the process that ideally, should not be omitted. As a result, it was my eye and the printer’s eyes that determined the look of this book, which meant that I needed to be around to approve every signature.

2. Since this was a short run by printing standards (each signature being run 3000 times zips through the massive printing machines pretty quickly, approx 20-30 minutes) I couldn’t leave between signature printings. Sadly, the client lounge was three flights of stairs away from the printing floor, and it wasn't practical for me to use it so I set up camp in a rickety chair in the corner under a humidifier. I got rained on then alternately showered with dust from the walls and pipes every time paper got moved around. Added to that it was very, very loud and I was breathing solvents constantly.

3. Perhaps, most importantly, the language barrier was brutal. Not being able to understand each other slowed things down and was tiring for both me and the shift man and our intermediary translator. It was very hard to communicate the subtleties that color correcting requires and there was a lot of pointing, head shaking and gesticulation involved. I was convinced that those guys thought I was nuts. (At times, I agreed with them…who comes to Korea for a press check anyway?)

Ultimately I didn’t care too much though. I wasn’t there to make new friends but to get this job done efficiently and deliver a quality work product.

This story continues in a series of posts. Read the next installment.

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