HOT TIP! Prepping Your Artwork

Preparing your artwork correctly for your print job is perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT part of the process. If the artwork is not prepared properly, chances are that your print will not turn out the way you’ve pictured it to.

Bad artwork can result in a “pixelated” or “dirty” print, which the customer can sometimes end up erroneously blaming the printer for. For this reason, most printers will review the customer’s artwork before printing the job, and either accept or reject the artwork based on the quality of the file given. If the quality and size of the graphic file is not ready for a “clean” print, the printer often times will reject the file and make some suggestions to have it revised. No printer wants their client to be unhappy with the finished product, and even if this means going back and forth to get a graphic file that will produce a clean print, that is most definitely time well spent in the customer’s best interest.

Here are some tips to minimize the potential down-time which can be spent going back and forth with a “dirty” graphic file:

1. Create your graphic file to size, if possible.
Pixelation occurs when a graphic file is prepared at a size that is smaller than the desired print size and when the printer blows up the design to the desired print size, the graphic becomes distorted.

2. Save your file as a: .AI , .EPS , .PDF
Preferably, we would like to receive files as an AI/EPS/PDF, with all layers unlocked and all text expanded, which helps us to prepare the screens as needed. A .JPG file may also be used if saved at 300 dpi, at the printer’s discretion. (Here’s a tutorial on how to EXPAND your text in Illustrator.)

3. Hand-Drawn images MUST be INKED properly. Original INKED drawing is preferred over scanned copies.
At the printer’s discretion, we do occasionally accept hand-drawn images from clients who do not have any digital image of the print they are wanting to produce. However, in these instances, the client MUST properly re-draw the entire image with a Sharpie pen. We prefer to have the original image from the client, and will normally charge a separate fee to scan the image and prepare the drawing as a digital file that will be ready for print.

4. When in doubt… ASK!
If you are unsure of how to prepare your artwork properly, ASK your printer! If your printer is not available to answer your questions, there are many qualified graphic designers who can offer their services to help you achieve the design you’re going for.


In the end, taking the time to prepare your graphic correctly will ensure that the finished product will meet your expectations.


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