Posted by: AG | July 18, 2009

Print vs. Graphic Production

 Since most people in the industry think of graphic production as synonymous with print production when the final product is a printed piece, it’s worth defining these topics more carefully so they’re not confused or used incorrectly.  Realize first that you could ask ten different people in the industry, including graphic designers, marketers, and printers, how they would define “graphic production,” and I’m sure you’d hear a full range of answers.

I’ll first give you my own definition and description of what it is. And I stress “my own opinion” because many in the industry would see it differently. And that’s the first clue to what it is, in case you missed it: the word industry.

By industry I’m referring to the print production industry. It’s the all-encompassing industry that begins with a person’s desire to reach the masses by means of printed material. Those materials can include direct mail fliers, books, magazines, or even posters. It starts with someone’s desire and ends when a reader is holding the printed piece in their hand and is reading it. And not just one reader, but often tens of thousands of readers, anywhere in the world.

It’s a winding road that requires thinking and imagination which ends using four-color printing processes at the end of the journey. And usually with the help of giant, noisy machinery operated by dozens of technicians. In fact, we could say that the printing takes place in a type of factory. True, you probably never heard of the printing company, large or small, referred to as a factory, but in reality I feel that’s exactly what it is.

Getting back to the word “industry,” which is really the “print production industry,” it’s important to see this industry as different stages. I won’t cover them all here, because I write about that in my other site called Print Production (see link.) But for this subject we can at least say that the two most important stages in the print production industry include both graphic production and printing. And when discussing the subjects, I will try to separate these two stages even though they overlap in many areas. But for the purpose of this site, I’ll be writing to assume that in most cases, graphic production includes most of the steps that take place before the job is passed on to the printer, who then runs it off on the press.

To summarize this part of the introduction, here is an outline of the way I’ll be writing about these subjects:

     Print production the industry as a whole, including all stages;
     Graphic production the stage leading up to the printing;
           Printing – the stage after graphic production where the printed pieces are produced
           Marketing – a stage of graphic production
                Graphic design a stage of graphic production
                       Layout – a key graphic design element
                       Typography – a key graphic design element
                        Illustration – a key graphic design element
                               Photography – a type of graphic design element
                               Illustration drawing a type of graphic design element



  1. I’ll have to agree that the trend towards more digital and graphic production to digital printing is slowly making the print design less valuable.

    I’m just curios to the methods of production in CD lables and printers. Usually clients make the illustration and then they print directly. Is there a standard for CD printing?

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