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Managing Digital Assets

(February 2001) posted on Thu May 31, 2001

Coudray explores the impact of digital design in the Internet age and its repercussions for printers.

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By Mark A. Coudray

<P>Now our clients could do it all in house. Granted, the quality of customer-created artwork was not nearly as high as what we were used to seeing from professional designers. But the cost difference--and the convenience and control of keeping the design process in house--was so great that our customers made the decision for us.


This trend has continued for the last five years. Desktop equipment is now ridiculously cheap, and virtually every printer and print customer has immediate access to it. Whether our computers are Mac or PC really does not make a difference; both platforms offer tremendous computing power and value. Photoshop has become the "killer app" for image preparation and manipulation with roughly a 90% marketshare. No one who prepares art for commercial reproduction is without it.


The second simultaneous occurrence was the emergence of digital design for the Internet. The debate rages on about the future of graphic communications. Will it be all electronic? Will print survive? Nobody knows the answers to these questions. But my gut feeling from watching this debate for the last decade is that print is going to be with us for a very long time. It is just another medium, as is the Internet.


The one thing I know for sure is that there are no longer any clear dividing lines between disciplines. Where does design end and computer programming begin? How does design interface with database architecture? What exactly is graphic communications?


The era of repurposing

Today, graphic communications means that any image is likely to be used in many different ways. In the recent past, digital images were created with specific purposes in mind. They were saved in vector or raster format, depending on the final application, and they were specified for the Web or for print. But designers found themselves preparing the same image in many different ways for each of these different uses. This phenomenon of "repurposing" images for multiple uses is one of the greatest challenges we printers face today.



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