Welcome To Cora’s Corner, where every month I am going to help you with
your artwork issues. This month I would like to discuss what can help you use your time more efficiently. We’ve discussed this before, however it bears repeating. Knowledge needs to be updated too.
Wasted Time, Expense and Opportunities!
One of the biggest, if not the biggest expense to a company is wasted time. One of the main reason time is wasted is because the company is not using the right tools to do the job. Don’t forget time is money. Your company only makes money when the presses are running. Everything else is an expense. One of the most common mistakes an owner makes is not to account for the time it takes to do a task as an expense. As an owner you need to look at the expense of the tool and the time it takes to use it. The question becomes, “Will this tool save you time?” The more efficient your time is spent, the more money you will make and the less expensive the tool becomes. Most of what I am about to discuss can apply to all parts of a company, however for the point of this newsletter I am going to keep the discussion to the Art Department.
Setting up Art Department.
When you set up your Art Department, buy the best tools to do the job. When you can afford to upgrade, do so. First you need to determine the expense of the Art Department per hour. Every owner should know this expense, few do. It will tell you what you need to charge for doing the art. Many owners make the mistake of not charging customers for this expense. Whether you actually charge an art fee or not, it is part of your overhead and needs to be accounted for. If your customer doesn’t want to see an art charge, you must work the expense into your production charges.
Art Department Tools.
Here is a list of tools every Art Department should be using. This is a business and should be treated as such. Buy tools used for business and not for home use. This is especially true for software.
Computer (Mac or PC)
Graphic Software (Adobe or Corel)
RIP Software (AccuRip or Wasatch)
Compression Software (Stuffit or Zip)
Office Software (Microsoft or Apple)
Adobe Reader (free for Adobe)
Printer to output paperwork and proofs
Printer to output films (should not be the same printer used for paperwork) with ink for film (preferably all black)
Film for art separations
External Back up drive (Trust me very necessary. Don’t let a disaster prove it to you.)
External Archive drive (Also very necessary)
Flash Drives (Used to transfer files. Buy 4G or bigger.)
Dropbox for transferring or storing files
Drawing Tablet (Wacom)
Exacto knife (To make corrections or fix imperfections on film)
Sharpie (To make corrections or fix imperfections on film)
Drawing supplies and Pantone color books (keep books update because the colors can change over time)
There are other tools such as clip art images, outsourcing services, idea resources etc.
One of the important items listed above that often gets overlooked is RIP software. It is one of the biggest time savers listed. It allows you to use spot colors in your separations. You don’t have to make everything black and on separate layers before output. It also creates halftones so you don’t have to create them manually. Those two elements alone can save an artist hours of time on one artwork job. Another important tool on the list is graphic software. Buy either Adobe Creative Suite (which includes Photoshop and Illustrator) or CorelDraw Suite (which includes CorelDraw and PhotoPaint). Most art files you will receive can be handled with those programs and they are the best for outputting art separations to film. Customers will give you files with all kinds of crazy formats, but will always expect professional results back. Always upgrade at least every 2 versions, otherwise you spent a lot of time trying to make artwork files open or function properly. You will always have customers upgrading. You need to keep up. This much easier now with subscription services from Adobe and Corel.
All this is really about letting you provide excellent customer service while making the most return. If you use the right tools, you save money by making it efficiently. This also leads to more opportunities to do more of the same.
Until next month.