A Designer’s Eye for Prepress

What’s better than a prepress operator with analytic skills? One with technical chops and seasoned graphic design background. That just so happens to describe Phil Griffith, a prepress operator at Columbine Label Company. It’s a position he never imagined himself enjoying when he first started his creative career.

A graphic start

“I was a freelance graphic designer for years,” Phil explains. “It’s a good way to build relationships and help people achieve what they are really looking for.” As a graphic designer for mostly print work, Phil became well versed in a variety of graphic design software and how to properly set up files for printing that reduce potential issues. A stint in marketing followed a few years later. Then Phil came across a prepress position for a commercial printer. “I’m a pretty creative person, but I thought I’d give it a try,” he recalls. “I ended up loving prepress. It appeals to my analytical side…making sure files are set up correctly and helping customers learn the ins and outs of print.”

Making the move to Columbine Label Company

After a decade at his previous job, Phil was ready for something more challenging and came across an opening for a prepress operator at Columbine Label Company in 2018. Phil beat out over 120 applicants, and he’s never looked back. “I’m so lucky to be here. It’s such a great place to work,” he says. “You can tell the companies that care about their employees and Columbine Label is one of them.”

Rewarding work

For Phil, no two days are ever the same at work. “Every day is an opportunity to problem-solve,” he explains. “And the graphic designer in me is always interested to see all the different label designs that come in and how we can get them to work the way they were intended.”

Phil finds that the Columbine Label’s focus on teamwork and customer service are crucial differentiating factors. “We work really well as a team. Our priority is making sure customers are happy with the end product.” To that end, Phil says he works hard to make sure the next person who touches the job doesn’t have to do anything extra. “I want to make sure I’ve done everything possible to make things easier for the next person in line. If you’re doing your job and encounter fewer issues, then you’re going to enjoy your job more.”

Tips from a design/prepress pro

As a graphic designer and prepress professional, Phil can quickly spot potential pitfalls with files submitted by customers, often due to a lack of customer/designer knowledge about the printing process. He enjoys working directly with customers to educate them on the technical aspects of file prep Art Guidelines, so they have a positive experience turning their artwork into professionally printed labels. His top tips include:

  • prepare files in CMYK color mode, not RGB
  • submit vector files (preferably created in Illustrator) rather than bitmap files created in Photoshop or third-party software such as Canva
  • send files with high-resolution images to ensure crisp, clear print results
  • include a bleed if there are images or colors that go to the edge of the trim
  • add a layer of white to the artwork that will be printed on a clear or metallic material
  • include a dieline in the artwork to ensure production accuracy
  • barcodes should be black only and be at 80% magnification or more so that they scan easily

Creative outlets

When Phil isn’t problem-solving at Columbine Label, he enjoys graphic design work on the side, cooking (especially his grandmother’s spaghetti and meatballs recipe), video games, music, driving through the mountains with his wife, and son, and cheering on the Denver Broncos. “I’m excited about this season,” he says. “It has to be better than the last five. I’m very optimistic.”

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