Death By Sitting cartoon by Marla GoodmanBig day here at Goodwerks!

There is nothing like the horror/thrill/relief of sending a big project to print. I’m sure I’m not the only publication developer who gets a mean case of the heebie jeebies while those DVDs are burning, burning, burning: “Did I cross all the i’s and dot all the t’s? Did I catch all the orphans and widows? Are the margins consistent? Is the gutter big enough? Are the bleeds all pulled out? Is everything CMYK? Is there some bad color lurking in an eps file? Are the photos 300dpi at print size? Is the body copy all the same color? …the same size? Are the skin tones healthy, not seasick or flushed?”

Then you start getting weird: “What if the cat walked on my keyboard when I wasn’t looking? What if, by some horrible inexplicable glitch, I lose all of the files and all of my backups right now? What if I accidentally copied and pasted something really weird and embarrassing where it wasn’t supposed to go?”

But the creepy feeling only lasts as long as it takes to package everything up and get it out of sight, either via FTP or nestled like a newborn in a cozy little priority mail nest. Then there’s a brief “hooray it’s done” celebration, only slightly dampened by the reality that prepress anxiety never completely goes away until the print job is proofed, printed, delivered and then, for one final time (or, if you’re me, several) obsessively inspected. Of course that’s when, if there is an error — no matter how imperceptible to ordinary human eyes — it leaps off the page and burns an indelible impression on your psyche.

By the way, I’m neurotic.

But this isn’t like a blog, where you can see a typo, fix it and hit the update button. Mistakes made in print sit there and mock you for as long as the print piece lives. The wisdom of, “you must fail to learn” was not intended for those in the publication design profession. Short of being etched in granite, a print job is pretty permanent, and if you aren’t at least mortally terrified of messing up, you probably aren’t doing your job. Loosey goosey is for artists. Sheer butt-clenching fear of messing up is a badge of honor that all good print designers and pre-press technicians share, whether they admit it or not.

So I guess that means I’m really good!