Warning…Production Times Might Not Be What They Appear!

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  We get one particular question all the time when it comes to promo.  “How long will it take for me to get my (fill in the blank)?”  It’s a great question.  It’s one that you should ask…and it’s tough to answer.  So many times, the answer is “It depends.”

Not what you (or any customer) wants to hear.  But let’s discuss why that is…and what you can do to improve it.

The first reason this is tough to answer is that each supplier is different.  Some specialize in low prices.  Some specialize in speedy delivery.  Some specialize in meticulous detail.  That’s all good.  But as I have said many times in sales calls, “You can have them:

1) right
2) fast or
3) cheap.

You get to pick 2 out of 3!

So we feel it’s the distributor’s job to guide the customer to a supplier that can best meet their needs.  That’s good for everyone!

The other reason production times can be confusing is the simple understanding of what “production time” really means.  Most of the time, “production time” means how long it will take to produce the item.  This sounds simple enough.  But the actual production does not start until:

1)  The supplier has “good” art.
2)  The proof has been approved.

Often these steps take the longest.  So if it takes 2 weeks to get these steps complete, then a 10 day production time starts.  So the order will take a month.

The final caveat in the delivery of goods has to do with shipping.  Most of the time there will be shipping involved in the delivery of your promotional products.  So where are the good shipping from?  That’s a huge factor in cost and in delivery.

So what can you do to help improve delivery?  Simple.

1)  Provide good clean “vector” art.  Most people don’t.
2)  Approve your proofs quickly.
3)  Be smart and order early!

That removes the stress from everyone!  Good luck!   

What is "Vector" Art?

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There is often confusion around Art files and what types we can accept.  Terms like Vector Art, Camera Ready, etc… get thrown around.  Most people, unless they are graphic artists, do not understand the differences. So, what is vector art and why does my logo or artwork need to be vector?  Vector art is created using vector illustration software programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, and Corel Draw, among others.  The art created with these programs can be blown up in size infinitely without any loss of quality.  (Think of zooming into a picture and it becomes blurry.)  Raster Graphics, such as photographs, and graphics files created in Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and other Raster editing programs, in most cases cannot be used.  Notice how in the example picture that the edges of the art become blurry rigid and not smooth?  With Vector Art you can blow up the image to any size with no loss of quality. 

How Can I tell if what I have is Vector?

Vector art is usually created in Adobe Illustrator, and is commonly saved as a particular file type: .ai   Vector art can be saved in other file formats (such as .eps, .svg, or .pdf). But, it is important to remember that just because a file is saved in one of these formats, that does not mean that it is truly vector art. Only art originally created in a vector editing program, such as Adobe Illustrator, is truly vector art. Also, you can identify vector art by process of elimination. There are some file formats that can only be Raster art, and therefore cannot be Vector art. The most common examples are .jpeg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .psd, .tif. These files cannot be vector art. 

Art Charges

There are art charges that are incurred on some orders if Vector art is not able to be provided.  In this case, we must send the provided art off to a designer that can re-create your artwork in a Vector-based program.  If you see an art charge on your bill, this is most likely what has happened.There are also art charges, sometimes, for layouts and formatting even if you already have the vector file.  For Example:  If you have your logo in Vector format but you want to add specific text under it for a promotion.  The text needs to be added in a Vector Based Program and sized appropriately for the item that it will be imprinted on.  This would incur an art charge too. 

Ask your Designer

Keep in mind that if a professional design created your art for you, chances are they may have your artwork saved as vector art, even if they have not sent that file to you. Some designers do not provide their clients with vector art, as they assume that the client will not be able to open the file. So, if you had a professional logo designed for you, but all you have is a JPEG, or something similar, contact your artist, and ask them for vector art.