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Employee Spotlight: Pat Sahli, Lead Prepress Specialist

1.) Hi Pat! Could you please briefly tell us what a Lead Prepress Specialist does?

Basically, prepress is responsible for checking and assembling (paginating) the press-ready files that will print onto a set of plates and then making the plates and delivering them to press. We are also the last quality check before ink hits paper (hence “pre” press). I also facilitate a lot of the custom finishing that clients are wanting to do to help make them stand out with that WOW factor (post press), such as spot coating, foiling, die-cutting, embossing, and different binding options.

2.) What would you say are the foundations for a successful print production?

Planning and attention to detail. Just like in building a house, you start with a strong foundation and build upon that. I always encourage designers to work in a production environment for a year minimum. You can learn so much about what works on press and what doesn’t. Learning as much as you can about the process will only help make you more valuable to your clients. If you have a good foundation in how a job is produced, you can use critical thinking skills to avoid potential issues and brainstorm different creative ways to solve a challenge – which is what design is.

3.) What are the most common mistakes clients do that may halt or delay a print run?

Have someone you trust to proof your work. When you work on designing something, it is real easy to overlook details that might be an obvious red flag to someone else. The old “forest vs. trees” scenario. Having been a designer my whole career, I know how important this is. Whether details like file size vs. product ordered, or 4/1 vs 4/4 issues not matching the art supplied, typo’s, unaligned page numbers or graphics are easy to overlook, to a “fresh” eye they may be glaring. We frequently find (and fix if we are sure) these types of issues. Sometimes a client does something out of the box intentionally, and if there aren’t any “heads up” about it, many times we will kick it back to the account rep or client to confirm before we progress. So, having as much info upfront is extremely valuable in not delaying jobs. Communication, communication, communication is what it is all about. The client knows their intent, but it may not be obvious to others downstream.


Prepress Specialist

4.) Looking back at projects past, is there one in particular that stands out as challenging or surprisingly fun to produce?

Since I facilitate a lot of the “custom finish” services, I see a variety of challenges almost daily. I think mostly of one that goes hand in hand with planning and working together with the client to achieve their goal. We had a client that wanted to do an “Advent” calendar with the little die-cut pop-up windows. Not having done one of these before, I had to think through how it could be produced successfully. I finally came to the conclusion that what the client was actually interested in didn’t have to be die-cut windows that would pop open. We could use scratch-offs to get the same effect, but much more economically. I think it was a good success story, as they did these every holiday season for the following 3 years as well, with different graphics. So I think it must have worked for them.

5.) Color choices play a big role in affecting people’s emotions. Do you have any insight into color psychology creating print jobs?

While not a color “expert,” color does impact everything around us. With mailers or handouts, you want to grab the audience’s attention and many times, the first thing that will garner that attention is color. Then they will progress further and look at the mailer closer to see if there is more to interest them, i.e., content. Besides the feelings that it activates, color is a very important aspect when planning jobs from a practical side. Some colors are hard or impossible to reproduce, while others will look like a whole different color depending on what color they are next to. It is a cool “trick of the eye” and worth further looking into.

6.) Speaking of pigments, what’s your favorite color?

I am partial to bright colors. I have always had a fondness for bright red and a bright lime green. Not necessarily used together 😊 (except at Christmas).

7.) Is there anything else you’d like to enlighten our clients about?

As I mentioned before, planning is the key to success. It is always good to allow enough time on a project to work out any bugs. You can’t know everything, but you can partner with those who specialize in whatever you are trying to accomplish. Especially with a complicated project, consult at the beginning to see if your ideas are the best way to proceed to accomplish the result you are seeking. Not every custom finish is appropriate for every job. Direct mail is all about communicating. You want to have the right message presented in the right way and hopefully that will be enough to get your desired result.

Call a Direct Marketing Specialist at 800.959.8365.

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