Print-production education for graphic designers
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Institutions teaching graphic design often emphasize concepts and methods of practice that yield excellent design abilities. Too often, however, the teaching of the methods in which those designs are then printed and produced are considered secondary due to a variety of reasons including cost considerations, available technology, and time available within an existing curriculum to teach such topics. Throughout history, changes in printing technology have changed the way designers' work is produced. What was once a series of steps involving a multitude of professionals able to fill the design-to-print transition is now often directly in the hands of the designer. In essence, digital printing technology has led the designer to become the typesetter, prepress operator, and even the printer. It is important that graphic designers are able to understand the ways in which their work is printed and produced to allow them to take advantage of the variations and possibilities inherent in each of the different printing and output devices. Lack of communication between designer and printer often leads to less than desirable printed pieces. A lecture course on print production may explain the topics, but fails to give students a hands-on experience in the craft of printing in a manner comparable to the rest of their studio-based education. This study considers the limitations of print-production education at graphic design institutions and considers how print-production methods and techniques can be taught using a variety of teaching and evaluation methods, and how those methods can be better integrated into the curricula at graphic design institutions. In particular, the study will look at what knowledge is necessary in a course on print production and attempt to validate the importance of that knowledge. It will also evaluate existing resources on the topic. Additional consideration is given to those subjects within the field students and printing professionals consider common sources of errors. Through the identification of important knowledge areas, resources, and problematic topics, a proposal will be made in an attempt to strengthen print-production education for graphic design students.