Jim Page's Creative Portfolio

Jim Page's Creative Portfolio

Print Design and Collaboration

I am the first to admit that I'm not a great designer. I work well with talented designers, and am a skilled collaborator. I know what good design is and how to achieve it, though I frankly lack the patience needed to do the work myself. And, in the jobs I have had, that hasn't been my role.  

My job has been to do the work that enables a great designer to shine. That being said, here are some pieces where I was much involved in the design process, as a collaborator, and was proud of the results.

This was an early digital four-pager for an engineering firm. The designer I worked with on this piece was Kelli Sechrist. Our challenges were no budget, no time, and only a vague sense of direction from the internal client. My contribution was meeting with the internal client to close the loop on how the project should proceed, gather the image assets that could allow Kelli to come up with a great design, and then get the piece printed on time. We chose a buff uncoated 100-lb Text stock and the client was thrilled.

Here's the cover for a brochure I did for a builder of custom, high-end guitars in Grass Valley, California; Harv's guitars sell for $3,500 to over $100,000. The client had over 300 high-res transparencies, all at 8"x10", and wanted no copy whatever in the eight-page piece. The only direction I had was to create "guitar pornography." So that's what he got. Assisting me greatly in the design and page-layout was designer Omar Bilal.

The biggest challenge, other than working with such a painstakingly precise client, was determining which images to choose to tell a story with no text. It worked out wonderfully well in the long run. Harv said other guitar builders were coming to him asking where he got the great sales brochure and his sales took off. He deserves every bit of success; he's a stunning talent. And I got one of his custom acoustic guitars out of the deal!

A nice example of how collaboration can work to the benefit of a piece. Starting with a terrific concept (the piece opens to reveal a dartboard) from Marisa Manello on the account management side, our incomparable senior designer, Tony Ciccolella, laid out and designed this piece, a multi-page gatefold brochure. Then Kevin Ness, super-salesperson from ITP Printing, was brought in and we all brainstormed how best to give this piece some subtle but effective sizzle. In addition to the four-color, we added a matte flood aqueous, a gloss UV varnish on the hinges and text and then an additional spot dull varnish to simulate the woodgrain and to emphasize the dark portions of the logo itself. A prize winner? We thought so, and the jury at the Graphic Design USA magazine agreed!

Collaboration can be magical. An account manager who knows the value of effective presentation, Rebekah Wychulis, brainstormed with us on this brochure, which was to promote the ACC's annual meeting in Orlando. Note the orange peel varnish texture on the cover. On some of the pieces for this campaign, we even went so far as to add an orange scent to the varnish, which gave a subtle tangy emphasis to the orange motif. Designer was Caroline Leibowitz under the direction of Tony Ciccolella.

These two pieces show the difference that a wonderful Creative Director, Morgan Bramlet, can make when they motivate and encourage creativity from their staff. Working with account manager Rebekah Wychulis, Tony Ciccolella upped the ante from the serviceable two-color saddle-stitched piece on the left to arrive at the stunning piece on the right, with gloss UV varnish, die-cut tabs, a wonderful use of color and images throughout, and a more user-friendly wire-O binding. And, through aggressive speccing and bidding from multiple vendors via yours truly, the cost was the same for the much more attractive and effective piece. YES! More bang for the buck is what I can do for you when teamed with talented professionals.

Again; it is all about collaboration.

Print Production

I've struggled with how to show visually this important aspect of what I do. Hence the deliberately fuzzed-out image above. I wouldn't feel comfortable showing anything more than this, because this is proprietary and confidential info. So the numbers and such on this image have been deliberately blurred out. 

I have spreadsheets, generated weekly, going back to 1991 for all the firms I've worked for. All of them declared this info was invaluable in their decision-making. 

Recording and tracking every aspect of a project in a design group not only keeps the account managers and designers informed about where their jobs are in the production process, but keeping tabs on each and every purchase and expense provides return-on-investment info that corporate decision-makers require.

This info has to be instantly accessible and totally up-to-date. So that is what I do. Using custom Excel spreadsheets, I can provide rock-solid tracking of every aspect of every task at hand, going back as far as my involvement at the firm allows.

This keeps the accountants happy, reassures the account managers that their budgets are respected and spent wisely and ensures that the design group is certified as useful to the firm. Invoices are tracked, coded and filed for ready access when required by the account team, accounting or auditors.

When budgets allow, web-based tracking solutions are invaluable for team members, and when the budget doesn't allow for that, I simply create spreadsheets that do much the same thing. Whatever it takes, it is well worth the effort.

How I Save Your Money In Print Buying

There is no big secret to effective print production or buying, but it does require knowledge of the printing processes and experience in dealing with printers.

First of all, there are usually 17 or so elements to a print job that the printer has to know before they can price and provide a turnaround time. There is no point in asking for a price until you know the specific perimeters of a job. Before I send the printer my Request for Quotation, I determine exactly what that those elements are and provide that info in a clear and concise way. That saves a lot of back-and-forth between the vendor and me.  

Then I send that RFQ to four qualified printers and ask that they respond within 24 hours. By qualified printers, I mean printers who are geared by their machinery and prior experience to succeed easily on a given job. That's where the experience comes in: knowing what each printer can do well. Few printers will ever tell you that they can't do a job. But there's no point in sending a four-page 2/2 brochure with a quantity of 3,500 to a web printer for a quote, or sending a 32-page 4/4 saddle-stitched magazine quote request to a small letterpress shop. They will either sub out the job to another, more qualified, printer (costing you G&A plus fee twice) or drop the ball by trying to do a job they aren't set up to do well.

Also, by sending the RFQ to four printers and letting them know that you are sending it to four printers, you've let the printers know that they are competing on a level playing field against three competitors and they'd better price the job realistically. I also caution printers not to lowball their price just to get the initial job. 

There are a lot of other tactics that I've learned in a long career dealing with print vendors, but those are some key aspects to the task.

So I've Done 60,000 Print Jobs; What Does That Mean?

It means that I have been involved in, usually in a supervisory mode, in a lot of different kinds of design and print production. These have included, but are not limited to:

  •  Newspapers,

  •  Magazines,

  •  Books of all kinds (hard-bound, paperbound, and more),

  •  Comic books,

  •  Brochures,

  •  Flyers,

  •  One-page handouts, 

  •  Specialty non-paper items,

  •  Posters,

  •  Signage and fabrication,

  •  Exhibits, 

  •  Calligraphy and unusual award materials,

  •  Out-of-home (billboards, bus signage, convention wall signage),

  •  Direct-mail material of all kinds, and

  •  Stationery, business cards, rolodex cards, and Post-its

Print runs have varied from one copy (illuminated calligraphy scroll for a Nasdaq board member, for example), to a run of over 15,000,000 (for a direct-mail package to all high-school seniors for the Army National Guard).

Call To Action!

Now that you've seen what I can do, let's talk! Please contact me so that we can meet and discuss how I can help your company/organization achieve its goals with results-oriented design studio/creative print management!  Just look me up on LinkedIn.com to send me a message.

Whether your products are books, magazines, direct-mail pieces, brochures, flyers, handouts, the ingredients are all the same. It's knowing how to make those elements work that will give you the impact you need and deserve.

Thanks for visiting!

--Jim Page