File under ‘A Learning Experience’

I thought that only software had feature creep. Turns out any project can grow out of control leaving one moaning, “this is not what I signed up for!”

I agreed to design and produce a book – how hard can it be? Stick in the photos and captions and flow the text. In my mind I’d spend about 10 minutes per page.

Only problem was the author was very disorganized, knew nothing of file resolutions, and didn’t know how to use basic computer functions, such as saving files off of a CD. This was to be a pictorial/coffee-table style book. To get photographs into his book, he was planning on taking pictures of the prints with a digital camera. I should have walked away right then and there.

Five months later I try to upload the 2+ gigs of files to the upload site for one Alpha Graphics. I had asked for an FTP site but was only given a URL which limited uploads to 500mb, and crashed at anything over 100. Delay #2. (#1 was a lack of communication over payment terms). I finally get an FTP site and upload the files, and the min. wage employees tell me the files are corrupted or empty. I log in at another computer, download the files, unzip them and they’re fine. After two phone attempts and endless hold times they promise to try it on another computer and viola, it works.

One caveat – the author told me to make the book 9×12. Only problem is he was quoted at 8.5×11, and the cost would double for the 150 page book. I told him I really don’t have time to recreate the book at a different size, luckily the printer said they can reduce it.

Now they make a PDF of the file, and tell me to proof it. I tell them to work with the author. I’ve already stretched myself beyond the limits of a designer to be a hand-holder, copyright enforcer, digital retoucher, copy editor and file organizer, and now I have to proof a file that the printer made? The author says he cannot access the ftp site with the same user name and passcode. And naturally the min. wagers at the print shop can’t help him so he appeals to me to proof this thing, and they want an ok before printing. So I uploaded the file to the sky drive I know the author can access and tell him to proof it just like all the others, that I never agreed to work with the printer.

At this point, I’ve done all I can and more than I should have.
None of my requests for file format, organization or labeling were made throughout the entire project, resulting in countless hours just trying to figure out where things went. Designers shouldn’t proof their own work anyway, they won’t see the errors. Now if the print shop made some huge mistake it will show up anyway and the author should see it. Normally I’d be all over a proof before it went to press for something I designed. But not this time, although I’m perfectly willing to fix anything they can’t.

By | 2013-02-10T19:54:04+00:00 February 10th, 2013|publishing|

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