Color Correct Printing

On two recent occasions I’ve had clients contact me with concerns they’ve had with the printing of artwork we’ve designed. In both cases, it’s been offset business card printing. The first client had been using a printer for years, successfully getting a brushed steel background to appear as a, well, brushed steel background, without the use of metallic ink. However, on a recent run, the background appeared more like a muddy green color. Certainly not what was expected, and nothing close to desirable.

After contacting the printshop, it was determined that they had changed their press since the last run. I had asked about color matching, and their response was pulled from their Terms & Conditions:

Color Proofing
Because of differences in equipment, paper, inks, and other conditions between color proofing and production pressroom operations, a “pleasing color” variation between color proofs and the completed job [as determined by generally accepted trade technical methods] is to be expected. When such a variation occurs, it will be considered acceptable performance.

The problem here is the phrase “pleasing color” that is considered “acceptable performance.” That is certainly up to interpretation. The good news, however, is that they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The client received all of their money back, including shipping, and took their job elsewhere.

With the other client, they had a background that appeared more purple on the newer cards, and color-accurate blue on the previous cards. Again, after contacting the printshop, they admitted that they too had changed their press.

This seems to be a widespread problem with these “online” printshop… offering incredible prices on business cards and other stationary items, with sometimes horrific results. Of course, true color accuracy could be achieved, but not by any of these more affordable printshops. Your best bet is to find a local printshop that will guarantee color correct printing. It’s going to cost you, but if having color accurate results is important to you, then it’s certain worth it.

This has been today’s Clarified Butter.