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The ultimate goal of a graphic designer working on print projects is to create something that will look right once it has been printed and placed into the client’s hands. In order to achieve this, it is important not just to have the artistic skills and creative mindset needed to come up with a good idea, but also the knowledge and experience to ensure that this idea will work when it is printed out on paper.

Designing for Print

Each design needs to be tailored to the type of print material that it will be used on, and to the audience for whom that material is being printed. Every print medium places its own constraints on the design, from the most obvious considerations such as the size of the material, to the less apparent issues such as how well different sections of the design will work together as leaflets are unfolded or pages turned in a booklet.

A graphic design for print needs to work on all of the different types of materials that it will be used on, which often means that it needs to be rather versatile. Brands that offer consistency over all of their print and online media tend to be more recognisable and to create a stronger sense among their target audience of who they are and what they represent. A graphic design for print might need to work on leaflets, letterheads, display stands, and other material, and it could also have to include colours, logos and other elements that will also be used on online advertising, emails and webpages. The design might need to be scalable to different sizes, effective in both print and online colour, or in black and white, and effective in a range of different contexts.

The design also needs to work well in each specific context in which it will be used. It can be tailored for this purpose from a more flexible design, or created with this sole purpose in mind if it is not to be used elsewhere. Several factors need to be considered for each of the contexts in which a graphic design for print will be used. Among these are the texture, finish and quality of the paper or card and the colour printing process that will be used. Graphic designers often use trial runs to test their ideas, but with experience, they also become very good at predicting what will work in a particular context.

Designing for the Audience

The designer also needs to think about how people will interact with the finished product. With a leaflet or booklet, the goal is to create an object that will keep the audience’s attention for as long as possible. It is important to provide enough content to keep the reader engaged, and to create a design that will entice them to turn the pages, to keep reading or to come back to reread it later. With other printed material, such as letterheads, the intention may simply be to create something that is easy to recognise and which represents the right image for the brand, even if it is only noticed subconsciously. No one is likely to spend much time scrutinising the design. However, there are also graphic designs for print that need to plat a role in advertising a business or product, inspiring the target audience to take an action such as making a purchase or stopping at a display stand to pick up a leaflet. These designs need to catch people’s attention and convince them to pay attention to what is being offered. The need to reflect the brand’s identity and turn the target audience into customers.

In order to create the right design for each of these purposes, the graphic designer needs to understand how people think. This is a skill that designers often develop through experience. They learn to recognise what will attract a particular type of person, so that they can create a design that will have the right effect on the right target audience.