jetpack technology

Friday, February 08, 2008

just after Christmas I finished my new CD, I paid to set it up on CDbaby and Itunes and get a UPS (barcode) and got some very nice looking discs printed. That just left the artwork to get done before I post off the CDs to the US to sell in the CDbaby store. So I spent a few days designing the artwork on the computer and finally decided on a finished design with all the right dimensions and dots per inch etc and I just needed to get it printed. So I took the files to my handy Staples store just down the road. I was eventually served by a girl who was so frustratingly timid and slow it was like giving instructions to a mouse who had been nibbling on Valium. Anyway, I managed not to lose my patience and showed her the mock-up which I'd printed on my inkjet printer of exactly what I wanted, just so she'd know exactly how it should look. I recklessly decided to opt for the expensive heavy glossy paper which I later calculated was going to work out at £1.60 per CD just in paper (a bit hasty methinks). I went back a few hours later to collect them and the manager handed me a big wodge of very slick shiny prints but with all the dimensions completely wrong - they obviously didn't even look at my mock-up or if they did they must be a bit thick. The CD inlays looked more like 7 inch recordsleeves - doh. He said "that's £16 please, are they ok?" so I said "erm, no they're completely wrong and I can't use them". I showed him my mock up and pointed out that the pictures had not been printed at 100% scale but had been stretched to fit the page. He shrugged and said "sorry mate, we'll do it again for you". I didn't have the digital files on me so said I'd come back. The next day I decided there must be an easier way than trying to explain to Staples employees how to print things correctly so found a place online that does disc duplication as well as print the artwork and have it all cut ready for insertion into a cd case. I emailed them saying I didn't need the discs just the artwork and they sent me back a quote which was very good and much cheaper than Staples. So the next day I emailed them the artwork and a few days later I got a cd case in the post with a sample of the finished artwork just to make sure that I was happy with it. The finish was great but (unlike the printing from Staples) the colours were not quite right, there was a slight pink hue to everything. I know how tricky it can be to get the levels of red, green and blue just right so emailed them back saying if they could just fix the slight colour problem I'd gladly send them payment in advance of them actually doing the printing. I got an email back with words to the effect of "sorry, we're not going to calibrate our printers just for you, if you don't like the sample then we can't help". So, I can't help but wonder what exactly was the purpose of them sending me the sample if they had no intention of taking on board my criticisms and ensuring my satisfaction. And also I wasn't asking for special treatment and for the printers to be calibrated specially, but to be calibrated correctly - I'm sure their other customers would appreciate it too. So I decided they were a lost cause. I did find another place that did disc duplication and artwork but when I asked for a quote it worked out at over £5 per disc, just for the paper! Hmmm, how do they make a profit. So I decided to go back to Staples seeing as the finish was so nice and the colours just right, and the fact that plain paper lasercopies are currently only 29p each. I took back my mock-up and explained to a different girl that the artwork has to be printed exactly the way it is. She took away my data cd and said she'd do a test print. She brought over a sheet and said "I don't think it's the right size" - which is wasn't. So I said "can't you just print it at 100%, the specified size of the actual image files - it's very simple" and she said "well no, the software is very basic and only has two settings. There's a wizard which only allows us to print something to fill a whole page or half a page". So basically their computer decides on some arbitrary size and prints it at that size no matter what and you have no say in the matter. I felt like saying "can I come over that side of the counter and do it myself?" Can you believe it? I think it's mind-boggling that they can't do a simple printing job like that... Anyway, in an attempt to finally get this bloody artwork printed, I've tried creating some A4 sized jpegs with the artwork sized just right in the middle so hopefully if they print them on A4 paper then the cd artwork just may come out the right size to fit in a cd case - but I'm not counting on it. I think in the future I shall do all the artwork myself with a marker pen and a rubber stamp...

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