If you haven’t worked at a large graphic design studio or advertising agency, you might not be familiar with print production managers or know just what it is that we do.

Most print production managers (also called print managers, production managers, producers, or print specialists) work as part of a team that includes account executives, project managers, art directors, designers, and electronic production artists.

Although we often report to a production director or operations manager, many print production managers are also artists and craftsmen/women with a strong affinity for visual design and designers.

Like me, many print production managers are independent consultants who work with smaller design studios and agencies by project.

What can a print production manager do for you?

  • Recommend efficient, time-saving project production flows
  • Create detailed print specifications
  • Recommend the best printers for the specific project
  • Send requests for estimates to printers and follow up
  • Select and negotiate with vendors to agree on best price, quality, and due date
  • Explain technical print processes to the design and production teams
  • Create and manage print production schedules
  • Track and control costs, especially alterations
  • Review the project at internal and printer proof stages
  • Communicate the designer’s requirements to vendors
  • Lead press checks in collaboration with designer and client
  • Examine finished samples and approve quality before delivery to client
  • Review, negotiate, and approve  final invoices for payment

The best print managers also

  • Advocate for the designer, the design, the project, and the client
  • Know many print processes and can suggest alternate ways to get similar results
  • Have near-encyclopedic familiarity with paper types suitable for your project
  • Stay abreast of new or improved technologies that can benefit projects
  • Guide the project from what the designer envisioned into the printed product
  • Troubleshoot and problem-solve on the fly
  • Anticipate pitfalls and steer the project around them
  • Seemingly work miracles with vendors
  • Have a passion for the craft of fine printing, fit and finish
  • Make you, your design, and the finished product look great!


Addendum, 6/5/11

This article continues to get the most views of any on my blog. I’d be curious to know what brought you to this page and whether you found the information you were looking for. Please leave a comment! Thanks!