bunnyslippersI call them bunny slippers press checks, since being fashionable is hardly part of the equation. Bed-head disguised by a baseball cap, rumpled sweats, slip-on shoes, and a bleary, “hunh?” look complete the outfit.

Jarred out of REM sleep by the wake-up call, I jump out of bed, climb into my clothes, wash the sleep out of my eyes, brush my teeth, and hit the road, pondering, “Remind me, what is it I love about this work?”

But once I walk through those press room doors, something happens. The lights are bright; the room is noisy; the graveyard shift pressman is jocular and surprisingly peppy. The old adrenaline starts to pump, my senses go into high gear, and I am ON.

Is the logo crisp? Is everything there? Are the stock and stock weight correct? Any typos we missed, heaven forbid? Does the image color match the proof? What’s the best adjustment to make that image pop? How’s the density across the sheet? (One late-night pressman named me “Ms. Three Point” in honor of my uncanny eye for density variations!) Is that type tailing? Do the crossovers match up? How’s everything running? OK now, can we hold that?

Being systematic helps, as does a collaborative approach with the designer, rep, and pressman. After all, they are experts and they want the work to be perfect, too. And at 3 a.m., having four sets of eyes examining the sheet really helps!

That’s what I love about this work:  that pride of craftsmanship, that search for excellence that marks the best printers and designers. You can dial in everything by the numbers, but there’s nothing like the subjectivity and artistry that we veteran craftsmen contribute to the job.

Heading back home to my pillow with a fresh press sheet under my arm, I know it will take me a while to unwind enough to get back to sleep, that physical memory of the rumbling of the press still vibrating my bones.

PS After so many late-night annual report press checks, these days I’m grateful that most of my press checks are booked for 9 a.m.!