Can I edit my artwork files?

Yes, you definitely can. But…

A few clients come back to us and ask if they can have their artwork files so they can edit them and reprint. Most of the time we’re more than happy to give you the files, after all you’ve paid for them and they’re yours (but see the addendum at the end).

As to whether or not you can edit them: there may be a problem in that the software professional designers use isn’t the same as your office software. As standard in the print and design industry we use one or several of the following software packages to prepare your artwork…

  • Quark X-Press
  • InDesign
  • Illustrator
  • PhotoShop
  • Lightroom or Bridge
  • Acrobat
  • LyX (because we often set scientific or technical journals)
  • FontForge  (because we sometimes carry out specialist font design or editing work)
  • Hundreds of thousands of professional Open Type, and Type1 fonts

… and or others depending on exactly what you need.

So unfortunately, unless you have these software packages you won’t be able to edit your artwork. The specialist software we use is important because preparing a job for professional, high quality print is a specialist skill and involves knowing about the technicalities of lithography, print industry practices and the mechanical limitations of the print process. For example, we printers don’t use the same RGB colours as your office software; we use the CMYK colour space, this fundamental difference is only a tiny part of the list of incompatibilities.

There are very good reasons for the differences in the software, most of which you benefit from by dint of the fact your office software is cheaper and easier to learn if it doesn’t have many of the more esoteric print-industry capabilities. When did you last need to control colour trapping or under-colour removal in your Word files for example. When did you last need to add bleed, slug and trim to an Excel file? Or employ character tracking in a Powerpoint presentation?

Basically, I suppose what I’m saying is, yes you’re perfectly free to take your artwork files (assuming you have paid for them) but you’re unlikely to be able to do much with them. It’s not a trick: we need the extra capabilities of the specialist software to ensure you get a tip-top quality job from us, all professional designers and printers work the same way.

So what should you do..?

Let us have your edits and we’ll make the changes for you, the cost will be minimal because most of the work is already done. We can then guarantee you’ll get a similar high quality job in the re-print.

For more info on the differences between professional print-industry software and office software see this excellent Wikipedia article… wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_publishing
Kevin, March 2007

Addendum:

As I said at the beginning of the article, clients do on occasion ask us for artwork files. Again, as above, in most cases we’re more than happy to supply them. Where we’re not happy, is usually where we’ve prepared artwork for you for free.

We only prepare artwork for free to ensure a great quality print job at a reasonable price; either because a client does not have artwork already, has lost it or the artwork was not prepared properly for professional quality print. We go to the time and expense of making proper artwork for you at no extra cost as an investment in you as a client. We want you to be happy with our work and the price you pay; happy enough to come back to us for future work. We’re conscientious about giving you quality for your money, in fact it’s more important for us to give you this quality than it is to make an extra £50 in artwork charges.

Many printers will not go to this much trouble and will either provide you with disappointing results (provide a “just print” service, as we say in the industry) or turn you away until you can come back with proper printable artwork. If we were to give you the artwork we have prepared for you for free, we’d be simply giving away our advantage and the thing that makes us better than most other printers.

But we don’t want to hold you to ransom! We will give you your artwork but we have to charge a fair price* for giving away our “edge”, or our investment in you as a client.
*we only charge our standard artwork rate and no premium.

Kevin, September 2011

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