Many graphic designers early on are unaware of the many career paths available to them, let alone the requirements and skills necessary in those various careers. Many assume that their primary tool will be Photoshop and for many this is true. But graphic design is so much more than Photoshop and one of the highest demands is not for someone who can do Photo Manipulation or Retouching. Those fields are fairly saturated.
The true heroes of the design world, of Ad Agencies and In House Art Departments are Production Artist. These graphic designers use their skills to correct the mistakes and polish the work of other graphic designers, as well as take their layout, art and concepts and translate them across different media and generate new sizes and formats while keeping things consistent and maintaining their quality.
One of the reasons this career is overlooked is because its less about art and creativity and more about problem solving, logistics, understanding requirements, precise measurement, time management, and knowing all the little quirks and details of programs, fonts, and image formats.
In many ways this job could be considered the design worlds answer to “bean counting”, but it is essential and if you can handle both being the graphic designer/creative director and can handle the production work as well you become infinitely more valuable to your employer or client and can save them money and time.
What Does It Take to Become a Production Artist?
- You have to have a very strong knowledge of PrePress.and Printing Standards.
- You have to understand various file formats and which ones are appropriate and under what conditions to use them.
- You have to have master of a layout program such as Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress. InDesign is currently the industry standard due to compatibility and work flow use with other Adobe Applications and formats.
- Understand how to package and utilize preflight options and profiles.
- A firm knowledge of how to utilize the Process (CMYK) and Pantone Color Spaces/Libraries.
- Strong skills in typography, font substitution and font conversion: Postscript, OpenType, TrueType.
- A firm understanding of Adobe Acrobat Pro and PDF file format, profiles and settings.
According to indeed.com the average salary for a Production Artist is 47K/year. This is 12K a year more than the average salary for a Graphic Artist, but obviously it requires much more technical knowledge and specialization.
Task Assigned to Production Artist:
- Creating final deliverable package of print and web ready logo designs.
- Formatting, proofing and verifying advertisements before they go to a printer
- Scaling Artwork and laying it out appropriately for a billboard or other OOH (out of home) display advertising.
- Converting live type to outlines prior to sending final mechanical to printer or client.
- Converting files to the appropriate format and or color profile.
So to all you graphic designers out there, taking up Production skills can improve your chances of landing a job, increase your salary projections and give you another career option in the same field.
Roberto Blake is a Professional Graphic Designer, Photographer and Digital Artist. When working with clients to develop their branding, Roberto creates content to support Designers and Artist in the creative community through online articles, tutorials and videos.