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Exercise 5.3: On Press

Updated: May 27, 2022

This exercise asked me to think about the printing process and opens with a quote from Alan Pipes' On Press chapter, from his 2009 Production for Graphic Designers. I had read this chapter in an earlier exercise, but I gave myself a refresher as it's a well written guide to keep handy as a reminder of the processes involved in the commercial printing process.

“There is a long-standing misconception to to learn the craft part of any profession can be a chore. The temptation is to jump right in there and get on with the creative stuff. Print production, in particular, with its many different stages and processes, can seem dull… [however] Graphic designers are both artists and craftspeople… And when you have learnt all about print production, the creativity will be able to come shining through.”

Alan Pipes, Production for Graphic Designers (5th Edition), 2009. London: Laurence King

Publishing. Page 11

The exercise also asks me the question 'Where do the connections between artist and craftsperson sit within your work?' These two roles role shifts often throughout the creative process, and I feel that I am always both artist and craftsperson, but sometimes one more than another. I feel that as a creative, I'm more of an artist when coming up with concepts, visual work and page compositions in the early stages, but through book design this overlaps with the role of craftsperson when I start to think about how this book will be produced, the tactile nature of it and how I want it to be interacted with.


Although my project will be on a smaller scale using a home inkjet printer rather than working with a supplier, I will still need to carefully consider the following areas:

The dimensions of the book

Which format my book will take. Will it be portrait or landscape, pocket sized, a standard novel or an unusual form factor as an artbook or portfolio, etc? When this is decided, I can arrange the bleed and margins accurately in digital programs that will make composing and trimming the edges of the page easier using clear guides.

Paper quality

The texture and finish I would like on the pages is also important. Will it be rough, smooth, recycled, glossy, matte or coloured paper and how well will any of these choices run though my own printer? What weight options do I prefer that are available? Options for these will be explored more in the next exercise.


My options for binding include, but are not limited to; hardback, paperback, stitching, gluing, perfect binding, screw binding, staples, coil binding, etc. With an artbook, the binding may be of another type all together to create something else unique, and must all ideas must be considered to suit the project and to fit the profile of the book block.

Digital settings

For working with my own digital files, I need to ensure that I have my colour profiles set correctly to CMYK from the start of production, and that I am working with files that are at least 300dpi. When printing, I will be setting my printer to prioritise print quality over speed when I am not printing drafts or proofs. Having this structure remain consistent will help me to make sure what i see on the screen stays close to what is printed on the page.


Even though I will be doing a self produced run for this project, I still researched a range of print suppliers for professional options. I already have some sources for online print on demand companies that I looked at in the paper and binding choices exercise, but I additionally found two local printers that offer small but professionally produced print runs.

Although a specialist in many fields of printing, John. E. Wright also offer a service that produce softcover and hardback books as well. I have friends and colleagues that have used their services before and always heard positive things about their relationship between artist/designer and printer to get good results in quality and earn them high reviews. In the future I'll be contacting them to arrange to be sent some samples or to take a visit to have a look at how they run their services. The company also seems very student friendly and offers a cheap service to print dissertations.

Allsopp bookbinders offer service with a range of more specialised bookbinding options and seem like a great option to investigate if I wanted to produce a run with a high quality finish. Again, this business is not far from where I live and is well established with high reviews, so it would also be great to pay them a visit and learn more about what local businesses can offer me without exclusively ordering products online.



Allsopp Bookbinders. At: (Accessed 5/3/2022)

John.E.Wright. At: (Accessed 5/3/2022)

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