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10 Skills Graphic Designers Lack But Art Workers Have

It maybe the graphic designer who gets all the credit for a completed design, but it is the art worker who actually brings their ideas to life by his art work.  If you are wondering why art workers are still needed in this day and age here are ten very good reasons!

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  1. Making print ready: it still amazes print houses and design studios alike how many design graduates lack any knowledge of the pre-print process and how to prepare documents so they will print correctly.
  2. Copywriting: design work often involves a lot of text as well as graphics so artworkers need to be able to employ copywriting skills as well as knowing how to incorporate text into a design. Some graphic designers cannot spell for toffee so artworkers also need good English and grammar skills and at the very least the ability to use a dictionary!
  3. Create PDF files: much design work relies on the creation of PDF files for both the artworker and the printer. Again many design graduates lack the knowledge to do this. PDF files are important because they allow for files to be exchanged between different computers even if they are using different software. Printers prefer to receive PDF files because they capture and set all elements of a design allowing accurate reproduction when printed.
  4. Pantone matching system: The pantone matching system refers to specific colour formulas used in graphic design to ensure continuity of colour throughout a design and in particular where several different documents or media’s are used. Not only is it an important reference for designers and artworkers but it is also essential for printers who will need the Pantone reference to ensure the correct colours are produced.
  5. Kerning: this term refers to the spacing between letters, say for instance in a heading. When dealing with words and letters in larger sizes the spaces between letters can become wider creating large gaps that can have the effect of making a word difficult to read. Kerning reduces these gaps and makes the letters appear more tightly packed and uniform. Some designers may apply kerning to their drafts before they send it to the artworker but many do not so it is up to the artworker to ensure headings, logos and other large text looks balanced with no unsightly spaces.
  6. Applying margins: most designers are familiar with using grids for creating designs, but are often not so hot at setting up margins. Margins are essential to ensure that when a document is printed and/or bound graphics and text do not disappear off the page.
  7. 4 colours and font sizes: the standard colours used in printing are cyan, magenta, yellow and black (abbreviated to CMYK). These four colours are mixed to create the desired colour tones, which is why designers need to make files ‘4 colours’ but often don’t. Another important consideration is font size. Anything below a six is usually considered too small, whilst using a font size of 8 can sometimes make the text look crowded and as if you are trying to cram too much into too small a space. Whilst designers may not appreciate how the size of font impacts on the overall design, artworkers will know the best size to adopt especially for the sake of legibility.
  8. Bleed: ensuring there is a bleed within a design is an essential part of making a file print ready. Applying a bleed means that the printed design will reach the edge of the page and when cropped to size nothing is lost. When a bleed is used it means the original artwork needs to be larger than intended finished size. Too many graphic designers neglect to add bleeds to their designs or delete them when sending files through to artworkers. This is another of those artworker jobs.
  9. Failing to add crop marks: crop marks essentially show where a design needs to be cut when trimming it to the correct size, whether there is a bleed or not. Artworkers know the importance of adding crop marks, unfortunately graphic designers often fail to add them leaving it to the artworker to determine the final size of the document.
  10. The difference between spot colours and process colours: it is important to understand the difference between these two as the results they output during printing can be very different to what was expected. For example, if the design was intended to be printed in CMYK process colours but the artwork file was set to spot colours the results will be different. Understanding the colour processes used in printing is an important factor when it comes to artworker jobs even when dealing primarily with digital media.


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About the author


Naaz is a web designer and loves to find new tips and tricks for creativity purposes and likes to share them with the people.


  • Its a fact that Print design process is whole lot a difficult task than to design the graphics on computers. And for getting the actual Creative Output, the graphic designer must have the knowledge about all tiny details regarding printing process.

  • I guess I’m an art worker – what I do is fix all those errors you mentioned at my print store. Boy is it astounding to get the artwork in for a HUGE ad agency, and they have failed to do the simplest things – RGB artwork, spot colors for a CMYK job, no bleeds, and fonts that aren’t embedded. And while crop marks are nice, we often end up removing them from the document and inserting our own, because the designer decides to put in crop marks that are too short, too small, and too close to the original artwork. Numbers 1,4,8,&10 are the most frequent problems that I see in regards to agencies and professional freelancers.

  • Are these really the traits graphic designers lack? I don’t understand why designers WOULDN’T know these essential prepress checks?

    I wonder if you’ll do a post about “10 Skills Art-workers Lack But Graphic Designers Have” — that would be interesting!

    Nice post.

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