Not so long ago, I was at a print shop, when I overheard a conversation between the printer and a client. The client wanted wedding invitations printed. He had the paper and the artwork, but the printer was unable to help him. Why would a printer turn down a job? Because the client had arrived with some wonderful ready die-cut self closing invitation blanks – shapes that print machines cannot possibly deal with.
Why had this happened? I suspect that between the client and his designer there had not been a conversation about the actual process of getting the job onto paper. Which brings me to one of the annoying things about design schools. They churn out kids who can design in photoshop and all kinds of sexy programmes, but have absolutely no idea how printing works. So it’s great when you are designing websites and virtual stuff, but totally pointless when you have to actually produce the work in large quantities.
Back to my story. I interrupted the conversation and offered the man two ideas: He could get some semi-transparent vellum paper or contrasting colour paper and print onto that, then trim to size and enclose in the invitation blank, or I could engrave the wording directly onto the surface of the die-cut cards. We agreed that I would take one of the blanks and create a sample engraved invitation and he would then make a decision.
The artwork was emailed to me and I discovered to my horror, that the “designer” had created a rectangular formatted invitation… the print area on the die cut was square (rectangular peg, square hole – nothing fits)! Clearly there was no connection made between design and application. Then, to my horror, I discovered there was no date on the invitation. The designer had just slapped together the emailed wording, thrown in a few doodads and charged an arm and a leg for the result.
As a designer and illustrator, one of the key steps in the process is to sit down with the client and get to know exactly what they want and how they want it to turn out. This includes reading the text and putting yourself into the position of the recipient. It goes something like this: “I’ve been invited to Joe & Lisa’s wedding. I wonder if I can go? What day is it happening? Whoah, hang on a second – there is no date!” It also includes discussions on how will they be printed and the final size of the invitation. The designer should have enough knowledge of print processes that they can help the client get to the perfect end product. Basic, yet this didn’t happen and the couple had to go over budget to get the job done (yes – I did give them a price break – bizarrely, as a designer I was embarrassed that they had been conned by a “designer”).
Brides and grooms are busy – so busy they can forget to include the date on the details they send to you. This is why the wedding invitation designer needs to be the paper and ink shrink for the couple. Sit down, hold their hands (virtually) help them get to an end product that they will be proud of and will send this message to their guests – “We are getting married – we think this day is important, we think you are important and so we have sent you an invitation that will make you smile and represents our awesomeness!”