We get a lot of questions about graphic design for CDs and we came up with a few ideas of questions to discuss with your designer as you evaluate who will be able to do the best job for you.
Whenever you’re interviewing graphic designers for CD projects – its a good idea to clarify a few things before you begin. Sometimes you could find out somethings further down the road that would have helped you save time & money earlier on had you known.
This list is by no means comprehensive – you may have others – these will help get you started.
1. What programs will you be using?
Expect to hear answers like – Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign. Answers like Word or Corel Draw – are indicative of a difference type of publishing than what you need.
2. Do you typically design for websites or printing presses?
If they don’t understand why they would be asked this – typically they design for websites. What makes artwork work technically the best for web is exactly the opposite of printing presses. What you need is high resolution 300 dpi, CMYK artwork, unflattened and in layers. These types of files will not only allow you to print better quality they allow for future changes without you having to go back to the initial designer for simple edits or additions.
3. Will you be able and willing to provide to my CD printing company high resolution, unflattened, native layered files?
This is important to ask. Graphic designers hold differing view on who actually owns the native files. Yes, sometimes they believe you own what comes off the press but that they own the digital files. Its not rude to ask and its not rude if they tell you that they believe they own them. Ask them what it would take to obtain ownership and usually that’s a dollar amount – just consider that when you determine your budget. And get it in writing if you hire them BEFORE you give them a deposit check.
FYI – Any graphic work that CDMaker does for you is considered to be your property so you have full and unfettered access to native files – just ask for a backup when you order so its just the time and materials cost to make one for you.
4. Will you be using templates to set up the artwork?
This is a huge one – if they just make one up or recycle one from another manufacturer – you could be looking at additional time. Tell them that you expect them to use the proper template(s) and if they don’t do so they are responsible to adjust artwork to fit the proper template. Again, its just that you are clarifying your expectations. If you don’t mind being charged by your manufacturer or printing house for the extra costs to adjust artwork files – then you don’t have to have this conversation.
5. Will I be given a complete set of backup files – all support images, all fonts, all native files at the end of the project?
This is again a clarifying question. If they say they will keep it on their harddrive- that’s great but ask for a physical backup of the native unflattened files and all the source images and fonts on a disc so that if anything happens to them, their computer, their harddrive, their work situation, their living situation, you have a back up.
6. If a logo design is part of the project – will the design be formated so that I can use it in black and white or color, or on any colot background or will it require a white box around it?
This is an important question – sometimes its easy to design a logo that work for the color of the immediate layout but when you need to put it on your facebook page or tshirt or business card, it doesn’t work as easily. Again, this is a question that clarifies. If you want it to have maximum flexibility for you – ask this question in the beginning of your relationship.
7. Are there any design concerns if you want to use the artwork or a portion of the artwork for t-shirts or display banners or other promotional materials which I may need the artwork larger?
Sometimes you may have a need for artwork to be larger than what it was originally designed to be. Sometimes because of how the artwork was designed it will look really bad if you just enlarge it. That’s why photoshop can be a limiting choice. Its a vector/non-vector issue. What’s that? Vector is better to go from small to large since it sets up an outline for text or images and then fills in instead of stretching dots (non-vector) from original size to larger which will pull dots further apart which kills the resolution of your artwork. Resolution affects how clear it is to the eye after its been printed.
Again, these are just some questions that will lead to a more complete discussion with your graphic designer. In turn this will helpyou be able to better assess how much it will cost you not just in terms of immediate outlay. This obviously is written more from the angle of having your CDs or DVD published but it lends itself to every situation where you might need the help of a graphic designer.
What questions have helped you? Please feel free to share below or let me know if these questions have helped you talk with your designer.