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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.


By Mark A. Coudray

The concept of repurposing poses some very interesting questions for us. The most obvious is whether we will receive the artwork (or in today's jargon, the "digital asset") in a form that is acceptable for our particular use. Will the resolution be high enough? Will it be in RGB or some form of CMYK? Will we be able to modify or adapt the image successfully? How much data will be lost in translating the image to a format we can use?

 

These are exactly the kinds of questions we must answer as we adapt to a digital workflow. Each and every graphic medium has its own workflow, and screen printers, offset printers, large-format print providers, web designers, and other graphic-arts businesses all want to make sure that their unique needs are being met adequately by designers.

 

However, we cannot rely on designers for the solution. Few are knowledgeable about the techniques and technology behind multiple printing processes or electronic media. If designers know anything about printing, lithography is the process that they're most likely to be familiar with. So, as usual, the responsibility falls on us to adapt the artwork we receive so that it works in screen printing.

 

The burden on screen printers will only get worse. As technology continues to race ahead, it is becoming physically impossible to train designers to be knowledgeable in all of the digital design tools they might need and also be competent about print reproduction. I doubt whether it will even be possible for the designers to keep up with the Internet side of things.

 

As we move to a more and more developed e-commerce side of the business Internet, the pressure on designers will increase. It is not enough that they know Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, Dreamweaver, and the host of other programs used to create their graphics. They must also have a working knowledge of HTML, XML, DHTML, Java, CGI, Perl, and numerous other scripting and programming languages. These technical requirements are usually not the strength of creative types--they do not like being bogged down in analytical details. Consequently, the designers of tomorrow are on a collision course with the end uses for the graphics they create. Whether the job involves print or the Internet, implementing digital graphics will be where the problems occur.

 

Enter the digital-asset manager

 


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