Thursday, May 7, 2009


As I began compiling a list of items to consider when working on print specifications, my mind began to swirl (comparable to the effect of the Neave Strobe) at the length of possibilities inherent in each project.

We have skimmed the surface of paper and hav
e even discussed certain press considerations but to gain a further and more complete understanding of the complexity of this process, I have decided to break it down into smaller categories. I plan to post these considerations intermittently and will title each section "CONSIDER THIS..."

Sooooooooooooooo .... CONSIDER THIS... when printing
large format items (such as banners, signs, walls, billboards, car and building wraps, standees, etc.)

1) Find a great vendor who specializes in large format printing. If you can find a vendor who has various capabilities, provides stellar service, a quality product at a decent price, and uses cutting edge materials, even better! Request samples of their products and ask lots of questions!

I had the privilege of working with an
amazing, large format vendor recently on an installation MORRIS did for the La Jolla Country Day School. This exhibit required a variety of items including large signage, standees (life size cut outs), banners, large walls, clings, street post signage, and magnetic items.

Our vendor, Avi Klinger, owner of
Sign It (, fit every description listed above. He worked side by side with us on this project every step of the way. He provided personal attention and material samples, brainstormed ideas with us, kept an open and experimental mindset, and his company had the capability of producing EVERYTHING we requested QUICK. Check out the amazing products they produced below (signs, walls, magnets, doors, and standees).

2) Verify the maximum size of the press. Take bleed (color running off the edge of a page) into consideration.

3) Request specifications from your vendor re: file set up and deliv
ery. Knowing how to set up and save your file ahead of time is a crucial, time-saving step.
  • What are the accepted file formats (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, pdf, tif, jpeg... etc.)?
  • What resolution should you build the file?
  • How should you build the file (CMYK)?
  • What is the live area?
  • Should you outline the fonts?
  • Should you embed the images?
  • Do they have an ftp site?
  • Would they like the file delivered on disc?
  • Would they prefer you upload online through their Web site?
4) Talk to your vendor about what types of materials they offer. Ask them for recommendations.
  • What material is appropriate for this application?
  • Do they have recycled materials?
  • What are the newest materials on the market?
  • Are they available?
  • How long will it take to get them?
  • What is the weight of the material?
  • Is the weight of the material appropriate for this application?
5) Obtain additional information from your vendor re: the production process, proofing, and samples.
  • What is the turnaround on the item(s)?
  • Do they provide proofs?
  • Is there an additional cost for proofs?
  • Can you get a sample printed on the material you requested?
  • Is there an additional cost for a sample?
  • Can you attend a press check?
Considerations 2-5 (listed above) can and should be applied to all print projects. For #4, refer to previous and future posts on paper selection. The word "materials" can be substituted for paper, if your print vendor is making paper recommendations.

CONSIDER THIS... when printing banners, large signs or walls (such as trade show graphics) or billboards:

1) Determine the purpose of your banner/sign/wall/billboard. The purpose drives the overall design.
  • Is it a backdrop at a trade show?
  • Is it intended to draw attention to an event or company as drivers pass by?
  • Is it used as a sign in an art installation?
2) Determine how you are going to hang your banner/sign/wall/billboard. Each of these considerations effects the file set up and what type of material you will use to produce your banner/sign/wall/billboard.
  • Are you using a stand?
  • Are you hanging it on a wall, on a fence?
  • Will it be hung on existing hardware (such as a billboard or banner stand)?
  • Will the existing hardware support the weight of the banner/sign/wall/billboard?
  • Do you want grommets? If so, what color?
  • Do you want to hang this using a pocket/pole system?
  • What type of hardware do you need to hang your banner (hooks, zip ties, wires, poles, glue, special services, etc.)?
  • Where will you hang your banner/sign/wall/billboard? Inside? Outside?
  • If you are hanging your banner/sign/wall/billboard outside, for how long?
Example :: Outdoor Banners
We created several outdoor banners for the installation mentioned above. The purpose of these banners was to inform the public about the upcoming exhibit. They were hung on chain link fences outside of the school for approximately two weeks. We chose a sturdy, weather resistant, vinyl material and used grommets and zip ties to hang the banners. We also selected large, white type that was set off by beautiful bright colors, to catch the attention of drivers as they sped by.

Example :: Indoor Banners
We also created several indoor banners for the exhibit. The purpose of these banners was to announce each separate part of the installation. They were hung from the ceiling on wire cords inside the show for approximately one week. We chose a recycled, lightweight material and used a pole/pocket system to hang the banners. Because the banner was double sided and hung via poles, we had to account for additional banner length (so they could fold and sew the material to create a pocket for the pole) and we we
re instructed to mirror our design on the bottom portion of the banner to accommodate for the double sided feature. The designs for each of the six banners were branded consistently. They worked in unison, as a family, that helped successfully represent each department of the exhibition.

I remember a meeting where our client was asking us for advice on producing a banner.
After walking her through the questions listed above, I can still hear her laughing as she replied, "Who would have thought, ALL THIS went into a simple banner?" I think she chose silver grommets. ;~)

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