I firmly believe when it comes to design, that in order to start a project properly you first need to understand how it is going to finish.
I recently worked for a new client and after the first week they told me how surprised they were that I knew more than just the design process.
This client, like many I work with, keep their design and artworking teams separate design. I see teams separated like this very often these days; but things weren’t always like this.
When I first started out in magazine design, I honestly didn’t know that there was a difference between design and artworking. As far as I was concerned, if you design something, you should know how to prepare the asset for print, and even know exactly how it is going to be printed.
These days, designers aren’t expected to know any of that. This is fine if that’s what the client wants, but in my experience knowing that little bit extra has actually given me a real competitive advantage over others.
What extra knowledge is useful to graphic designers?
I like to know as much as I can about my core day-to-day tasks, and then have a working knowledge of the areas around them.
As a designer, I use the Adobe Suite (as I am sure most do). The programs I use more than others are InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.
Beyond that, I feel it is important to know the other Adobe programs as well, and as a result of studying I can now use Dreamweaver and Flash. I am also now looking into After Effects (I’ll let you know how that goes).
For all of that studying, my site of choice is Lynda.com. It is about £15 a month and is actually recommended by Adobe. I find it really easy to follow and money well spent.
As for the print process, just ask your suppliers. Most print companies and paper suppliers will happily show you how everything works as the more you know, the easier their lives are.
Keep learning; you never know when that random bit of information will come in handy.