Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience”.
This is especially true when it comes to checking custom lapel pin art proofs. There is no replacement for experience. The more artwork you see, the more you know what should and should not be included. However, unless you work in the lapel pin industry, you probably have limited experience and no idea what should and should not be included. That is ok, there is still purpose in your understanding of the artwork. Let us explain with a short story.
There once was a man who worked for a pin manufacturing company. He was not a salesperson, rather he was an accountant. He ensured pin prices and pin costs would allow the company to be profitable. A very important role. But, while he was not directly involved with the artwork process, he learned terminology, observed artwork issues, and discussed product related questions often with the sales people.
The owner of the company was a sales-minded individual. He worked with customers, designed products, added creativity to artwork and pushed everyone to create beautiful artwork. For some it was intimidating to sit with him as he reviewed their art proofs. He had a knack for finding the issues in seconds. Nothing escaped his view. Experience had taught him much and he demanded it of all the employees regardless of their role.
One day the accountant’s role changed, which now required him to work with artwork. So, the owner put him through the paces and tested his artwork ability. To the owner’s surprise, the accountant had learned much over the years, and picked out everything the owner expected. Experience even in an indirect way had taught the accountant much.
Experience has taught this owner that artwork is the key to a successful business. If the artwork is correct, the lapel pin will be correct, and the customer will have no surprises, and there will be minimal rejects. Because of the importance of artwork, not only are employees expected to review artwork but, customers are sent art proofs to add a second set of eyes to ensure everything is correct. Customers are certainly not expected to know the technical aspects, but there are things customers can review to help ensure accuracy. Ultimately it is the customer approving the artwork for production.
So, to help customers in their role, here are “10 Things to Check in Your Custom Lapel Pin Art Proof”.
It is very easy for an artist to spell a word incorrectly and unfortunately artwork is not like a word document that can be run through spell check. There is nothing worse than getting a pin with a misspelled word. It is even worse having the end user catch the spelling mistake. No technical knowledge is required to spell check, that is why it is the most important verification a customer should always do before approving an art proof. But, don’t speed read over the word or you will make the same mistake as the artist who has looked at the word a hundred times. A helpful trick is to point your index finger at a word and then say each letter as you slowly pronounce the word. This helps you to avoid glossing over the word and forces you to spell it in your mind. If you are uncertain, take the time to look it up.
Color can make or break the overall look of the pin so the second most important thing to check is the color. Focus on the following two tips when you are verifying colors. First, is to look at the design as an overall picture. Do the colors work well together, does it look good? Do the things that matter most stand out? Do the colors fit within the color scheme or purpose of the pin? Second, focus on the number of colors used. Typically, there will be a large-scale image of the design, for easy review, as well as an individual list of colors included in the design. It is important to look at the individual list of colors and verify that each one is actually used in the design. In the pin world, you are often charged for extra colors above 6 so if there are unused colors from the list you could be charged more. Additionally, your verification helps to eliminate confusion in the production process.
This is a continuation of step number 2 above, but is different enough to justify more explanation. Manufacturers use a global pantone number system to help them achieve consistency in matching specific colors. Each color is assigned a number, called a pantone or pms number, and has an associated formula defining how the color is created. This sounds very technical, and is, but there is a role you can play. Many companies or organizations have branding requirements for their logo. Meaning their logo uses specific colors defined by a pantone color number. As the customer, you will have access to these specific pantone colors from your organization and can therefore validate the correct pantone numbers were used for the logo. There may be other colors included in the pin that have nothing to do with the specific branding, but it is important the logo meets your company requirements.
Included on every artwork is a large-scale image of the design, and a small-scale image of the design. The most challenging aspects of the lapel pin design process is helping customers visualize what the actual pin will look like so they can give their approval. By nature, customers spend all their time looking at the large-scale image because it is easier to review. Bigger is better as it is easier to read the words, see the tiny details, match all the colors, and determine that it looks good. However, the challenge comes when the pins arrive and the customer gets frustrated because the words are not legible on the actual lapel pin. One has to remember that the pin graphic is probably 3 inches yet the actual pin will come back as a small 1-inch sized pin. You begin to see the issue. To solve this issue, you should also focus on the small image as it will be closest to the actual size. We like to call it the sight test. If you can’t read the wording or see a detail on the small version, most likely you will not be able to read the wording or see the detail on the actual lapel pin. It’s a very effective and simple technique. If something is no longer legible in the small image then you have to decide if it is important enough to make changes to the design.
Verifying the color is often the most challenging aspect. Verifying the finish is the exact opposite and is much easier. The finish refers to the color of the overall metal material used to make the pin. It is the background color and is typically gold, silver or copper. So, if you wanted a gold pin, just verify the artwork shows gold and is also listed as the finish color. It really is that simple. The finish should clearly show in the artwork. The only variation would be if a dyed metal color is used. Technically, gold or silver can be replaced with a dye metal color like black. But again, there is only one color to verify and it should be clearly identified on the art proof.
Verifying the size is another relatively easy aspect to verify. However, you do need to understand how pins are measured. Lapel pins are measured based on the longest dimension either left to right or top to bottom. Typically, the art proof will show the measurement on the small version of the art proof. As an example, the pin dimensions may read 1.25-inch wide by .75-inch tall. Because pins are defined by the longest dimension this would indicate a 1.25-inch pin. It is important to verify the size is correctly displayed on the art proof, as price and manufacturing depend on size. One final thing to consider is, is the pin too big or too small or just right. By focusing on the small image, you get a feel for the answer to this question.
Verifying the revision number may seem minor yet it could be a major thing. Typically, it takes 2-3 revisions to get an artwork just right. A revision number helps to track which version is changed or ordered. You want to make sure you approve the final version and not an earlier version.
Back stamps are standard in the lapel pin industry. A backstamp is an identifier mark or name stamped or printed onto the back of a pin. By default, pin manufacturers stamp their own backstamp like “Custom Pins Now'' on the back of every pin they produce, unless requested otherwise. This is done for two reasons. First, it markets their products to others. Second, it helps customers remember who produced the pins for easy reorders. There are two alternatives to the manufacturer's backstamp. You can leave it blank, as in no stamp. Or, you can pay for a custom backstamp of your own choosing. A typical backstamp is a one time $50 charge. It is beneficial if you want to brand your own company. Backstamps are restricted to simple text. If you paid for the custom backstamp you want to verify it is included on the art proof so you receive the value.
Lapel pins have many different types of attachments. Attachments dictate how pins will be attached to things. Attachments include: nail, magnet, clip, butterfly clutch, rubber clutch, deluxe clutch and more. Because there are various options, and customers get focused on the actual art proof sometimes attachment gets overlooked. This can be frustrating to a customer when the pin comes in and it is not what they thought they had requested. A simple review of the art proof will let you know the right attachment was chosen.
After you have completed and verified steps 1 thru 9 you have essentially confirmed that everything is correct about the lapel pin. However, each of the steps above relates to a very specific thing. It is then good to do step 10 and back away and just look at the pin design overall and see if it looks like what you want, a big picture view. If you see anything that looks out of place, bring it up to the artist to change. Artwork is important for the factory but more importantly for you the customer. Lapel pins tell a story, they send a message, they convey emotion and they cost money so you want to make sure everything is correct.
As mentioned in the story at the beginning a skilled pin manufacturer can take a piece of artwork and in 30 seconds review steps 1-10 and typically find everything that might be off. It is a skill that is learned by practice and repetition. But no one is perfect, so by taking 5-10 minutes reviewing the 10 Things to Check in Your Custom Lapel Pin Art Proof will enable you to double check and catch something the pin company may have overlooked.
As always with custom lapel pins if you can dream it, we can create it. Happy pinning, and happy reviewing.