Are you ready to mock? Always get a following mock-up

January 17, 2009

I had to re-learn a lesson recently. Always print out and put together a folding mock-up of the piece before sending it to the printer. The more complex it is, the more important it is to do. As designers, so much of our communication is electronic now. Just a few years ago we had to provide a folding mock-up of our projects so the printer could give us a quote for printing. Now, almost everything is done electronically. This is great for us over-committed under-rested freelancers. Still, many times all the printer sees is the high-res PDF and from this PDF he produces a proof. Good printers will often catch mistakes at this point. They will question them and/or correct them for a fee. So, back to my screw up: I had a project that started as a one-page 8.5-inch by 11-inch two-sided piece that folded in thirds and fit into a #10 envelope. The client added a bunch of copy and it became a 17-inch by 11-inch piece that folded into an 8.5-inch by 11-inch piece and then in thirds to fit into the #10 envelope. Somewhere in the hurry to redesign, I flipped a page upside down. I looked at it on screen. My client proofed it and approved it. I sent it off to the printer without making a folding mock-up. This was a rush job, you know, like every job freelancers get. Anyway, the printer e-mailed me and said he had a proof ready. It was a killer day. I almost said, “I’m sure it’s fine. Go ahead and run it.” Thank goodness I didn’t. When I saw the folded proof, it was clear that I had an upside down page. The bottom line is that freelancers eat their mistakes. Even though my client signed off on the piece, I would have ended up paying to reprint it. I got off lucky with just paying for the correction and new proof. So I’m back to mocking up all multi-page or tricky designs. Many times I’ll just print them out half size and do mini mock-up. It saves paper and they are really kind of cool. One more tip to keep your profits right side up.

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