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Choosing a Transparency Blend Space

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Managing color and transparency requires different approaches in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign.

While InDesign allows you to use both RGB and CMYK images and artwork in the same document, Illustrator requires you to choose a single color model (CMYK or RGB) in its documents, and you’ll choose one from the very start, in the New Document dialog when setting up a new Illustrator file.

 

For implementing transparency in Illustrator, it doesn’t matter whether your document is set to CMYK or RGB; the most recent versions of Illustrator already support transparency, so the only issue you may encounter is a request from your printer to flatten transparency — and usually only if they’re using a very outdated version of Illustrator and/or need a different type of file (like an .EPS).

InDesign, on the other hand, will let you combine page objects and artwork with grayscale, CMYK, RGB, or LAB on the same page; it allows both CMYK and RGB profile assignments to handle the management and display of CMYK and RGB colors on the same page. Grayscale artwork and images default to using the CMYK profile (the black plate). Any new swatch you create within the document can have its own color mode, and any placed object with an embedded color profile will, by default, be managed by that color profile. A placed image or object without an embedded color profile will use the document’s assigned color profile; otherwise, the document color working space will be applied.

InDesign may seem more flexible color-wise, but this also means paying attention to more technicalities. Setting the Transparency Blend Space may be considered an obscure feature , and it’s definitely highly technical; in fact, most InDesign users don’t even know about it!

Maybe you’ve even gotten the following error message dialog: “The document’s Transparency Blend Space doesn’t match the destination color space specified in the Export Adobe PDF settings. To avoid color appearance changes in the PDF, click Cancel and change either the document’s transparency blend space, or the destination color space. Or click OK to continue with the current settings.”

If you have or even if you haven’t, you might want to get familiar with the Transparency Blend Space so you can troubleshoot.

For implementing transparency in Illustrator, it doesn’t matter whether your document is set to CMYK or RGB; the most recent versions of Illustrator already support transparency, so the only issue you may encounter is a request from your printer to flatten transparency — and usually only if they’re using a very outdated version of Illustrator and/or need a different type of file (like an .EPS).

InDesign, on the other hand, will let you combine page objects and artwork with grayscale, CMYK, RGB, or LAB on the same page; it allows both CMYK and RGB profile assignments to handle the management and display of CMYK and RGB colors on the same page. Grayscale artwork and images default to using the CMYK profile (the black plate). Any new swatch you create within the document can have its own color mode, and any placed object with an embedded color profile will, by default, be managed by that color profile. A placed image or object without an embedded color profile will use the document’s assigned color profile; otherwise, the document color working space will be applied.

InDesign may seem more flexible color-wise, but this also means paying attention to more technicalities. Setting the Transparency Blend Space may be considered an obscure feature , and it’s definitely highly technical; in fact, most InDesign users don’t even know about it!

Maybe you’ve even gotten the following error message dialog: “The document’s Transparency Blend Space doesn’t match the destination color space specified in the Export Adobe PDF settings. To avoid color appearance changes in the PDF, click Cancel and change either the document’s transparency blend space, or the destination color space. Or click OK to continue with the current settings.”

If you have or even if you haven’t, you might want to get familiar with the Transparency Blend Space so you can troubleshoot.

So, What Does the Transparency Blend Space Do?

You’re aware that you can combine RGB and CMYK images and artwork in the same document in InDesign. Great.

But as soon as you introduce ANY transparency into the document (for example, using an effect like a drop shadow, or placing an image with a transparent background), InDesign needs to convert everything in the document to EITHER RGB or CMYK. (This is why you may often see a number of colors or grayscale images suddenly change their appearance on the page when you switch the transparency blend space setting).

You can test this right now (assuming you have both RGB and CMYK artwork in your document) by selecting an image or an object on your page, and then clicking the drop shadow icon in the toolbar.

If you’re using both RGB and CMYK elements within your document, you’ll notice an immediate shift in the display on your screen when you click the toolbar icon. This effect is a result of the Transparency Blend Space kicking in.

The Transparency Blend Space only affects InDesign document spreads that include transparent objects (or effects requiring some level of transparency to display). If a spread contains any such object or effect, the entire spread will display in the chosen blend space, but won’t actually be converted.

Where Do I Find the Transparency Blend Space?

In Indesign, the transparency blend space setting lives at the bottom of the edit menu.

You’ll notice two options in the flyout submenu: Document RGB and Document CMYK. Most of the time, you’ll see this set to CMYK. That’s perfect IF you’re going to be printing your document on a printing press (such as sending it to a commercial printer).

There are two times, however, when you’ll want to check and perhaps edit transparency blend space and make sure it’s set to RGB.

  1. Are you working on an interactive document or something that will most often be read on a screen? Something like an annual report that will live on a site like Issuu.com or otherwise isn’t going to print, or maybe a product information sheet that will be downloadable from your website? In this case, set the transparency blend space to Document RGB.
  2. Will you be printing a file, but the final printing will take place on a desktop printer (inkjet, color laser, etc) versus through a commercial printer? If so, you’ll want to set your document to the Document RGB transparency blend space. This may not make sense because those machines use CMYK ink and toner cartridges, but unless it’s an incredibly high end desktop printer, it’s most likely designed to function like an RGB device.

What’s Next in InDesign

After setting your transparency blend space (which adjusts the display and your expectations), you’ll still want to avoid color issues to make sure your document prints correctly. CMYK and RGB are color models; each also requires a specific color space (Adobe RGB, sRGB, SWOP 2, etc) to be set for printing.

You’ll need to match the transparency blend space and document color spaces, and also match the destination color space to ensure accuracy in your final printed piece.

You can check and/or change the color settings of an InDesign document in a couple of ways:

Assign Profile

This will manage the color space of the document itself, but won’t change any existing color values in your InDesign document. You may notice a change in the appearance of the colors on your screen.

  • Go to Edit → Assign Profile

  • You can choose a preset under the “Settings” dropdown, and/or customize.

  • You can also change the working color space.

Convert to Profile

This both changes the color space of the document and tried to change any existing color values in your file to keep the current display of your colors. (There is still a chance this may change the appearance of colors on your screen.)

  • Go to Edit → Convert to Profile

  • Choose your destination color space and any relevant conversion options.

What’s Next in Illustrator

You won’t have the same transparency blend space settings as in InDesign, but still need to make sure that the document color space and export destination color spaces match up. There are a couple of places to check.

Color Settings

  • Go to Edit → Color Setting

  • Under the “Settings” dropdown, you can select a preset to start with (and customize further).

  • You can set the working spaces, as well (image: workingspaces.png)

Assign Profile

  • Go to Edit → Assign Profile

Here, you can choose Working CMYK or another profile.

Printing for Less (PFL) has been an industry leader and provider of high-quality, unique printing services since 1996. Though we are a large company with customers across the globe, we treat our customers with the attention and care you’d expect from a luxury printing boutique. From business cards and banners to letterhead, flyers, and beyond — PFL knows printing like no other. Let’s talk about your project! Our print consultants are available 7am-7pm MT Monday through Friday at (800) 930-7978.

The Latest InDesign Postscript Advice for Mac OS X

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If you’re creating an Adobe Acrobat PDF to send to your printer from Adobe InDesign, it’s now best to avoid Acrobat Distiller. These days, there is no reason a printer should be asking you do use it. And frankly, if they’re making such a request, you may want to find an updated printer.

When you’re ready to send your InDesign document to print, there are three main ways you can deliver your file: delivering the file in its native InDesign format, delivering the file as a print-ready PDF, or delivering a Postscript file.

Regardless of the file you choose to deliver, always make sure that you’ve double checked everything in your document before saving the final version. Once the document goes to the printer, it’ll be much more difficult (and expensive) to make changes.

If you decide to send the InDesign file, be careful. It’s impossible to know what version of InDesign your printer is running (even though InDesign boasts backward compatibility, a perfect translation between versions isn’t guaranteed). Will your provider set up the registration marks correctly? Do they have the same versions of the fonts you’ve used? At the very least, your text may change if your file is opened in a version other than the version in which you created your document.

Instead of creating a Postscript file and then distilling it, you can simply export a PDF from InDesign (specifically “Export” — don’t use the PDF printer driver). Most printers these days actually prefer not to receive Postscript files, and request PDFs instead.

Many printers won’t accept Postscript files at all because there’s too much room for error. It’s too easy for clients to make errors when creating Postscript files. Plus, changes are more difficult to make once the document is written as Postscript, so PDF seems to be the way to go.

Creating Postscript in Mac OS X Using InDesign

There used to be a different process to use Adobe InDesign for creating a Postscript file (.ps file) on a Mac, but with recent updates in technology and software technology, it’s a much simpler process.  Also, PDF files are generally preferred these days. But if you have to create a Postscript file, the Print Dialog box will be your best friend.

InDesign Print Dialog Settings

It’s always better to set printer driver settings from within the Print Dialog box, as opposed to modifying the driver (oftentimes, the same settings are duplicated in both places, and it’s best to avoid possible override confusion and conflicts. InDesign is able to accurately print to other printers, but prefers Postscript 3 and the PDF print engine. They’re Adobe’s printing technologies, after all, so it makes sense!

When making your printer selection from the Print Dialog box, InDesign will look at the PPD for any printer you choose, which it will display in the PPD popup menu.  If you want to create/save a Postscript file instead of printing directly to a physical printer, you’ll choose “Postscript file” from the Printer popup menu. You’ll then need to choose a PPD file that describes your output device (assuming you know it), or choose “Device Independent.”

What Does “Device-Independent PostScript” Mean?

  • You’ll get a “100% DSC-compliant” file, which means that your file will be able to support any required functions (like trapping or imposition) post-processing
  • You’ll have a file that will print to just about any output device, because all dependencies on specific devices or drivers have been stripped. (That said, if you need to take advantage of any special printer features like different media sizes or screen frequencies, you won’t be able to choose Device Independent Postscript.)
  • The file will need color separations created in post-processing software (or at the RIP, with in-RIP separations), because the color output includes spot colors AND composite CMYK.
  • Any trapping you want will have to happen at the RIP or through post-processing software. InDesign won’t allow trapping in a Device-Independent Postscript file.
  • InDesign can only print a Device-Independent Postscript to a file. This file format can’t be used if you’re going directly to another device or application.
  • If trapping and separations will happen later in the production process (like during imposition, trapping, or at the RIP), Device-independent PostScript file is a solid choice.

Steps to Create Your Postscript File on a Mac with InDesign

  • If you don’t already have your file open in Adobe InDesign, now’s the time to open it.
  • If you’re ready to create your Postscript file, open the Print Dialog box (Cmd + P) or File → Print

  • In the “Printer” dropdown, choose “Postscript file”.

  • A “PPD” dropdown will appear right under the “Printer” dropdown. Select “Device Independent” unless you have another PPD you’ve been told to use.

  • Navigate to the “”Graphics” tab in the left hand menu and choose either Level 2 or Level 3 (if you don’t need to use level 2, just keep it set to Level 3).

  • Click the “Save” button at the bottom right of the Print Dialog box, and you’ll then be prompted to choose where to save your Postscript file. Be sure to change the file extension to “.ps” even though it defaults to “.indd”.  

  • If you forget to change the file extension, don’t worry; InDesign will prompt you with the following error popup:

 

Using a PPD from Your Printer

If you‘re being required to create a Postscript printer file,  your chosen printer may have actually given you a specific PPD to use for file setup. If you’ve already installed a specific PPD on your Mac and don’t see it as an option in the PPD popup menu, you may need to first decompress it (using an application such as Stuffit Expander).

Okay, So What About Encapsulated Postscript?

Encapsulated Postscript (EPS) is still widely used, but it’s quite an outdated file format. EPS is no longer evolving, and because Adobe Creative Cloud and Creative Suite software has become the industry standard, it makes more sense to use Adobe’s native formats instead. Adobe has made it seamless and simple to place files from one of its applications into the next and the Adobe file size tends to be both smaller and editable.

Continuing to use EPS as an intermediate file format just doesn’t make practical sense. It may be easier to use EPS files with non-Adobe applications, but most up-to-date printers have Adobe on hand.

That said, if you have folders and folders of old EPS files on hand, you don’t have to trash them. Adobe’s Dov Isaacs promised (via the PrintPlanet website) that Adobe will support EPS as a legacy graphics format, even though using EPS format isn’t recommended.

Printing for Less (PFL) has been an industry leader and provider of high-quality, unique printing services since 1996. Though we are a large company with customers across the globe, we treat our customers with the attention and care you’d expect from a luxury printing boutique. From business cards and banners to letterhead, flyers, and beyond — PFL knows printing like no other. Let’s talk about your project! Our print consultants are available 7am-7pm MT Monday through Friday at (800) 930-7978.

Free To Do It Your Way

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This is a guest post by Beth Frede from Creative Revelations. She helps women entrepreneurs who want to make a positive impact, but who struggle finding their purpose and balancing work and their personal life.

Beth Frede PhotoFreedom.

I love that word in all its forms.

We are so free in America. We’re free to choose our own paths, and even create our own jobs if we’re motivated to do so.

Happily, our views about work have transformed. The traditionally held belief that “work can’t be fun or you’re doing it wrong” has given way to a new paradigm: “Do what you love and the clients and money will follow.” Can you feel the freedom in the second mindset, as compared to the first?

Yes, hard work is still required of us, but taking consistent action doing something we feel passionate about is the very opposite of drudgery! More and more, we’re looking for work that not only pays us, but fulfills us.

So what happens when you find work that not only pays you, but fulfills you?
Most of the time you’ll feel…

Happy and satisfied in your work. Even if you’re dealing with less-than-happy clients, you genuinely feel good about your part in helping them.
Energized and alive. Your work challenges and invigorates you, and you know your contribution is making a difference.
Peaceful inside. There’s an unshakable contentment that goes with you everywhere. You feel grounded and centered.
Patient and loving with the people around you. You’re feeling good, and that goodness spills over into your relationships.
Healthy and well. Your energy is balanced. You take time for yourself. You have a good sense of control over your life while being flexible when you’re thrown a curve ball.
Plugged in. You’re awake, aware, and connected in your relationships and your daily activities.
And When you’re not plugged in to meaningful work, you’ll find yourself…

Frustrated or bored. Your work is too easy and there’s no juicy challenge to sink your teeth into, or it’s just the wrong work for you. Either way, your heart’s not singing.
Antsy and irritable. You’re not spending your time the way you’d like to. You’re snappish at your family, or resentful when something slows you down. You’re jealous of your friends who seem to be happy and successful.
Feeling crummy. You get stress headaches. Mystery ailments that come and go. That knot in your stomach when you think about Monday.
Feeling flat. You’re drained. No enthusiasm. You’re not super up, not super down… just hanging out in the middle. Meh.
Zoned out, numbed out, checked out… You look forward to wine-thirty, Netflix, or other distractions more than you enjoy the rest of your day.
If you’re in the first group, congratulations and a big ol’ Woohoo for you! And if you’re in the second group, take heart–you are free to choose another path, and it can be much easier than you realize.

Here are three simple steps to help you get to a more purposeful, enjoyable work situation:
1) Create a clear picture of what you want for yourself. What does your ideal life look like? Who would you spend your time with? (Who would you spend less time with?) What would a typical in your ideal life look like? Get as specific about your ideal life as possible, and don’t just think about it… write it down, because this helps your brain root it in reality.

2) Get happy now. Being “in flow” requires you to know where you desire your life to go (which you’ve just clarified in step #1) while being happy and grateful for where you are now. What are you grateful for? What are all the reasons you have to be happy right now? Be clear, specific and detailed about all the ways you are happy and grateful, and again, write them down; writing them as opposed to just thinking about them will help you feel into them.

3) Find the common heartbeat behind your values, challenges, experiences, and gifts. Why were you given all of these pieces? What have they taught you? What do they mean to you? Finding the common heartbeat that ties them together helps your purpose rise to the surface like cream rising to the top of a milking pail.

You are meant for something special… you’re here for a divine purpose! It’s up to you to put your stake in the ground and claim it.

This is How You Get the Flow Back

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This is how you get the flow back image!

The love. The passion. The drive. It held your small business together. Clients came in. A decent amount of money flowed–at least, enough to say, “Hey I got a real, viable business on my hands that can support me.”

Then the rush of clients stop; the flow turns to a trickle. Your business has reached its maximum flexing point. Shhhhit.

My sister was a gymnast. She invested almost 20 years, thousands of hours, and plenty of injuries from the vault, balance beam, bars, and floor work. In the first few years of competing, she regularly earned first and second place medals. Her bedroom quickly became a trophy room from her success. Her enthusiasm and joy for the sport rapidly carried her through the levels.

But one day, she hit a plateau. To compete at higher levels, her flexibility and strength needed to improve. Her coach pushed her to have a flawless split and straight lines when flexing and pointing her legs in the air. To achieve this, her coach cranked on her body for months at a time to force her split to the ground.

I remember the grueling pain and muscle tears she went through. I cringe thinking about it. She mutilated her groin and hip flexors. Her progress slowed, and injuries became more common. She could do a split, but was the pain and hard work worth it? Was the short career worth it?

Are You Cranking on Your Business?
When business feels like it has dried up, and things ain’t so hunky dory, most of us fall into reactive mode. You’re needy for clients and money; therefore, you push, you work hard, and you do everything you can to crank out more business and get that flow back. Painful. Exhausting. In need. There has to be a better way?

Do you know what the best way is to increase your flexibility in the shortest amount of time? It’s easing and relaxing into the stretch. I wish my sister’s coach was intelligent enough to know that. But when you push too hard and too fast you go nowhere, except for injury. You need to relax and breathe to deepen the stretch.

No pain, but plenty of gain, because your muscles don’t need the time to repair from the wearing and tearing. The muscles learn how to be flexible and start in that new place of flexibility next time.

Okay…enough lessons on stretching.

The point: rather than pushing and cranking, be open up to your neediness and say, “I’m here. It’s okay that I’m needing more clients and more money”? Because being here with your neediness relaxes you to receive what you truly need. When you fill yourself up, you expand and easily flex to a new level without the pain and without the need.

How to Stretch Your Business?
Be where you are
You want to grow your business. I’m sure you have a grand vision of where you want to be in a few years and what a successful business looks like. But when you are stuck in this vision, you become stuck in expectations.

Having a vision is not the problem, the problem is your attachment to expectations. When the amount of clients and money coming in is not what you expected, and the reality of your business is not meeting your vision, if you are attached to these expectations you suffer. You don’t have to take my word for it, Buddha said it himself: The cause of suffering is from attachment (I’m paraphrasing).

Hold tight to that vision of yours, but how can you let go and honor where you are at? One way is to continually cultivate appreciation for what you already have. Appreciation grounds you to what is. It acknowledges and respects the progress your business has made. In this groundedness, you are being here, now, and standing firmly with both feet on the ground.

Ask to be shown
Before reacting to your business situation and neediness, ask in your heart to be shown what you really need to be fulfilled. You are witnessing that your business needs more flow because you are at a plateau. Before you react and try to bring more business in from a place of neediness, ask, “May I please be shown what I truly need in this relationship.”

You don’t need the clients and money, but a true need–something that fills your heart. If you already had the clients and money, what does that do for you? What needdoes it fill? Does it bring you safety? Make you feel witnessed? Give a sense of contribution? Create community? Give you strength?

Have a look at List of needs (right click, save as). When you ask in your heart what you truly need, see what need you gravitate towards in the PDF. Your goal here is to identify the true need.

Drink it in
You don’t know something until you experience it. That’s why in the Zen tradition you sit in meditation, because you can talk all you want about enlightenment and The Way, but knowing on an intellectual level is not quite it. You must sit and experience enlightenment for yourself.

When you receive what you truly need from your situation, take that need and drink it. It’s a metaphorical drink of filling your heart with that need. For example, if you discover what you truly need in this current situation is safety, ask to drink and be filled with that need: “May I please drink in and have safety.” Now wash your complete being in safety. Sit as safety.

Another way to experience this need is to fill a glass of water three-quarters full. Declare that the water represents the need of safety, for example. Now drink the water knowing that you are drinking in safety.

Here’s the process in review: be where you are and notice your neediness, ask to be shown what you really need in this situation, drink in the true need you received.

Now you are filled. From this place of fullness, you will respond and make decisions with appropriateness and in balance. In the Buddhist tradition, this is called Right Action. You get back into the flow and start flexing yourself to that new level of business.

Getting the Support and Guidance You Need
The journey to your next of level of business is often messy and like navigating on rough terrains. I know you can do it, but with the right support and guidance you can have an easier journey and cut your time in half. I’m here for you. If you want to explore the possibility of receiving help, and getting that flow of clients and money back into your business, click here to look at my Backward Business Development training.

Why 8 Out of 10 New Businesses Fail

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    When I first committed to Zen training, I really had no idea what I was getting into. I thought it would have been a breeze. Maybe an easy way to find peace and relaxation from the hustle and bustle our culture weighs on us.

    Do a duck duck go search on meditation, and you’ll find countless ways to find inner peace. Most people preach that meditation should be easy. Go for a walk in nature and find the stillness. Lay down with your eyes closed and visualize. Relax on the couch and count your breath. Then, and in no time, I’ll find enlightenment, right?

    I went to my first Zen class with all these ideas about meditation, but no real experience. Do you think I was in for a surprise? Oh ya.

    My teacher made me sit on a small round cushion without a mat on the hard floor (what! I couldn’t lay down). I had to cross my legs in some kind of kung fu style that only double jointed people can do. Worst of all, I couldn’t move. Not even an inch. Not even a scratch. When I did move, he scolded me.

    We meditated for fifty minutes. Fifty. Friggin’. Minutes. My legs were in so much pain. My foot fell asleep and the pins and needles feeling seeped into my stomach. I was nauseous and almost puked. At the fifty minute mark he rang the bell to end the meditation. I was broken. I wanted to cry.

    You Might Not Make It
    Isn’t this shockingly similar to being new in business? We have these grandiose ideas of making a huge impact, having financial freedom, and making six figures within six months. But the truth is: we want to cry most of time. Making our business work is hard.

    Only two out of ten people make it. You wouldn’t have guessed that figure because 8 out of 10 business or life coaches preach your dreams can become a reality, or you can make six figures in six months (I think it’s up to seven figures now).

    The deck is stacked against you, too. You’re inexperienced, so you don’t have social proof or validation that your business is viable. Your income is low, so you desperately need clients and money. When you mix inexperience and a low income together, you undervalue yourself and price way too low. You give a ton of your time and exhaust yourself, but you’re not getting ahead as you hoped.

    Who are the ones that make it? That’s the wrong question. A better question: What’s the best chance you can give yourself so you do make it in business?

    Commit Wholeheartedly To The Form
    The reason why the Rinzai school of Zen (that’s my form) is rigorous and soooo damn hard is because it’s the quickest way to enlightenment. It’s not about finding peace or feeling happy, it’s about getting over yourself. And this type of Zen training gets harder and harder until…you wholeheartedly commit.

    Before wholehearted commitment, you move when you are sitting. You don’t truly listen to your teacher. Sometimes you show up, sometimes you don’t. You quit counting your breath when you should be counting. You don’t practice day in and day out. You think enlightenment will just happen to you.

    After wholehearted commitment, you have no choice. You sit because that’s what you do. You count your breath because that’s what you do. You endure the pain because that’s what you do. You seek enlightenment and you keep seeking because that’s what you do.

    The irony of it all: once you wholeheartedly commit, you have a breakthrough. The enjoyable side effects kick in: a quiet mind, inner peace, unexplained joy, and clarity.

    The majority of people who fail in business (and I have experience failing four businesses) are not wholeheartedly committed. They go through the motions and look for the easy way–the next marketing trick, social media tip, sales tip, or line of thought, “how can I get the next client.”

    Yes, you will have to endure pain, and if you’re new in business, I’m sure there’s pain. You are trying a lot of things and not seeing much work.

    But when you commit with a whole heart, you burn all bridges behind you. You have to make it. You have no choice. The pain is still there, but the magic happens. One client turns into two. Two into four clients. You are being appreciated for your contribution. You feel the love inside. People say “I love you.” (yes, that does happen from my community.)

    How to Wholeheartedly Commit to Make Your Business Work?
    Plain and simple: it’s a decision you make. Wholehearted commitment can happen from having too much suffering in your life that it lights a fire under your ass, or you can decide, right now, to commit.

    I like the decision route. Here’s how.

    Raise your standards.
    Are you in business to make a living? To make money? Or, are you in business to make some kind of impact for others? Are you in business to discover your very best self? To grow? To have financial abundance? To share your voice? To share love? Most importantly, are you clear on what you are after and what you will not settle for?

    The turning point to wholehearted commitment in my Zen training happened when I decided to go full on seeking enlightenment and to sit for everyone. I was clear to why I’m doing my training. And I committed and decided to settle for nothing less than full clarity and realization.

    You need to do the same for your business. Why are you doing what you are doing? What do you really want? What will you NOT settle for? The right answers will appear when the aliveness and passion kick up inside of you. Hint hint: it’s not going to be about money or toys.

    Get leverage on yourself.
    The funny thing about us humans is that we are only doing two things in life: avoiding pain or moving toward pleasure. For example, you have a migraine. You are in pain. Therefore, you take some aspirin so you can avoid pain and move to pleasure.

    I also bet that you are in business because you want pleasure. This may take many different forms, but some common forms of pleasure from business are: money, significance, contribution, certainty, appreciation, freedom, etc. And when you have a lack of clients and money, you are in pain and want to move into pleasure.

    Now here’s the tricky part. If you are struggling in your small business, especially if it has been a long term struggle, you are unconsciously linking pleasure to your struggling situation. Why would you ever do that? Because it’s what you know. There’s certainty in that situation. Certainty of how things will happen in your life brings you comfort and pleasure; therefore, you stay the same.

    The beauty of Zen training is that it creates so much suffering and doubt that you are forced to change. When that happens, you realize enlightenment.

    Business is a path to enlightenment, too. Changing your situation in business, and to move into wholehearted commitment, you must get leverage on yourself. Ask these two questions and journal about them:

    1. What is the cost of not having a thriving and abundant business? Make sure to find the pain in your business life and how it affects all areas of your life.

    Well, if I don’t thrive and have abundance, then it will always be a struggle to make ends meet. I will give a lot of myself, but never really feel nourished. I will also need clients and money and I can see myself compromise integrity to make a buck. I will actually feel drained and always be pissed off. This will upset my wife. She will get sick of our financial lack. I can see our credit card bills go up. We won’t be able to connect with friends and family out of town. I won’t be able to travel…

    2. What is all the pleasure I will gain from having a thriving, impactful, and abundant business? Make sure to write about the impact for your business and finances, but also the other areas of your life.

    My calendar will be full and I will love what I’m doing. I will feel really filled and I’ll be able to give more. I can start that charity I always wanted to start. I will be able to buy a nice plot of land and build that little New Englander. My wife and I will be able to travel and experience cultures. I will feel loved and like I’m making a difference because I’m helping other businesses succeed.

    Make sure you get into this and give it your all when writing. When you understand the cost and pleasure, you have leverage and commitment to change your situation.

    Master the forms.
    The rituals we have in Zen training are rigorous. There’s a certain way to enter the gate, to walk to your cushion, to bow, to sit, to hold your hands, to breath, to light the candles, to stretch, to exit the sitting area, to do everything. Sometimes it is daunting.

    But we strive to master those forms for a purpose: to set ourselves up for success. We want to give ourselves the best chance possible to realize enlightenment.

    You need to do the same for your business. There are heart-centered and ethical structures and strategies to support your business that will set you up for success. So many new business owners only rely on passion and excitement. They jump in and hope to figure things out on the way. Passion and excitement are not constant; they are like a candle that flickers in the wind.

    I have two ways here to support you. But most importantly, whether it’s from me or someone else, invest in learning the business forms. All people who do good things in life have a teacher and make an investment to master the form.

    How about you? Can you tell me a time in your life when you wholeheartedly committed to something that it completely changed your life? Maybe it’s your business? Or maybe in a different part of your life? What was the defining difference?

    Learn the Basics to More Clients and Money

    PFL Customer Project Showcase: Not just a flat football

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    Event announcements are a great way to get the word out, and generate buzz and interest about the event, your company or product. Most of us have seen some good, some bad, some just boring. Who wants to attend an event when you see a ho-hum invite or announcement?
    Drinker Biddle & Reath, a PFL customer, recently printed up a very cool-looking piece that is easy to spot, recognizable and is a fun way to announce an annual football event. Football fans will gravitate towards it, and it begs to be opened. Go long…

    Sometimes You Need That Custom Printing Project Done Right, *$(@(%&!!!

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    There are many tools that shield us from the messes in life. We have bibs, napkins, and latex gloves. But new to the world of anti-mess is the NOSMUDGEE Company!  Demonstrating elegant ingenuity, they have solved the problem of mascara smudges which inevitably smear our eyelids when we are applying the beauteous goo.  Eureka!  A solution at last.

    And speaking of solutions, the NOSMUDGEE Company needed one when it came to a professional printer. They had a great idea, a refined design, and a printing problem.

                      

    NOSMUDGEE Company searched for professional printing services that could meet their specific printing need.  PrintingForLess.com was able to meet the need and exceed performance expectations.  Jeffrey Burkey, NOSMUDGEE Company C.E.O. was searching for a business printing company that was able and willing to meet the exact printing specifications he had for his new product. PFL employee Amber Gatewood was the designer on the project. “This project presented several challenges; the key was to listen to the client to understand exactly what was needed.”

     Jeffrey put it this way, “This was not an easy task with one printing company not able to do this, the next company not able to do that. ‘A great idea… sorry we can’t do it’… became the standard reply. Then, FINALLY, after months of frustration, we discovered PrintingForLess.com!  They took the design elements and product specifications then delivered to us a NOSMUDGEE Mascara Shield product and packaging that exceeded our expectations.”

    Creative ideas are encouraged at PrintingForLess.com. We specialize in helping custom projects come to fruition. Other custom online printing sources say no when we say YES.

    If you can dream it, we can do it! Bring us your challenging projects.  We will shield you from the mess of sloppy printing while meeting your printing needs.

    “We are grateful to PFL for helping us to make our NOSMUDGEE dream come true!”          ….Jeffrey Burkey, CEO

    It was our pleasure, thank you NOSMUDGEE Company for your business.

     

    Ten Business Card Commandments

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    When it comes to business cards, it’s all about selecting options that set you apart from your competition. If you’re having trouble getting your creative juices flowing, here are 10 business card commandments to live by.

    1. Thou Shalt Not Always Conform

    The unique, see-through element gives clear plastic business cards a modern touch. Clear cards can incorporate a number of design elements, from frosting to partial, full color printing; they are perfect for businesses and individuals looking for that competitive edge.

    clear business card

     

    2. Thou Shall Encourage Interaction

    Inventive die cuts are an excellent way to grab the attention of the person you are giving your business card to. This die cut chair card takes the cake when it comes to unique and innovative design. Not only is it creative, but it allows interaction with your card in a whole new, tactile way.

    bc chair

     

    3. Thou Shall Embrace All Shapes

    The more personal you can make your business card, the more your customers will connect with you. This to-go coffee cup is a perfect fit for a coffee shop or café. It can also double as a frequent drink card that your customers are sure to hang on to.

    bc cup

     

    4. Thou Shalt Not Covet the Square

    These cards command attention by incorporating an ultra-unique die cut shape. All of the important information is well placed on the card. The black matte card stock is an excellent base for the silver foil stamping at each of the edges.

    bc foil

     

    5. Thou Shall Be Multi-Purpose

    This dual purpose business card not only looks cool but has a utilitarian design, as well. It has a guitar pick die cut into it. This way you are giving customers something they can use, which will help keep your brand top of mind.

    bc guitar

     

    6. Thou Shall Perforate

    You have to stand out from the crowd if you want your business cards to get noticed, and this card stands out in more ways than one. Its creative use of a die cut with a perforated tear off belly not only grabs your attention, but lets you know exactly what this gym can do for you.

    bc gym

     

    7.Thou Shalt Not Think Bigger Is Better

    Small and elegant describes this card. It is a true testament to simple, classic design. This mini business card (1.75 x 3.5) with diagonal rounded corners packs a huge punch. Altering the size or adding rounded corners is an inexpensive way to make a business card memorable.

    bc leaf

     

     

    8. Thou Shalt Not Be Centered

    An off center fold and a creative die cut give this card great dramatic flair. The excellent use of color die cutting and fold placement are simple tactics, but used well in this design to enhance the impact.

    bc off center

     

     

    9. Thou Shall Excite With Images

    It looks so good you could eat it! If only paper tasted as good as frosting! We haven’t mastered the art of edible business cards yet, but this one comes pretty close. This creative use of a die cut works in perfect harmony with the image. It’s cleaver and a great conversation starter.

    bc bite

     

    10. Thou Shalt Not Reveal Everything Upfront

    These aren’t your standard folded business cards. A simple design element takes this card to a whole new level. The extra die cut reveal at the top catches your eye and makes you want to find out what’s inside.

    bc folded pop up tribe

    Welcome to the Fold

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    We all think of the same thing when someone mentions folds.

    Sheepfolds, obviously.

    But thankfully in the printing world we can venture out of the barnyard when it comes to styling paper in an appealing way.

    gatefold_folding

    Of course there are your standard folds: half-fold, tri-fold, half-then-half . . . and unless you are into origami, we begin to run out of ideas for creative folds. If we dig deeper we realize there is more to the art of folding than first meets the eye.

    Self-proclaimed ‘Folding Fanatic’ Trish Witkowski has yet to run out of ideas. Over a span of seven years, she compiled an 850-page book of folds and created the FOLDRite system to aid in folding compensation mathematics (how much space to leave in the margins in order for the paper to fall flat when folded).

    Witkowski’s website foldfactory.com has endless ideas for every style and focus: accordion folds, roll folds, gate folds (perhaps for sheep?) and even an entire section devoted to ‘exotic folds,’ which includes the divided ‘barn door,’ the popular ‘iron cross’ and ‘snake’ folds, and even a ‘twist fold,’ where a small square expands into a larger square when you pull on opposing corners.

    ball2

    Folding allows the product to interact with the customer by attracting attention and then engaging the mind more significantly than flat paper. Like embossing and other special printing techniques, interesting folds also invite a tactile connection, but often offer a more budget-friendly option.

    You have the information on the piece; but how do you want people to perceive that information? And in what order? Many of Witkowski’s folds include ‘hidden panels’ that allow the customer to ‘explore’ as they work their way through the material, encouraging them to hold onto it longer. The type of paper used is essential to the tactile experience of the piece, for weight, stiffness and texture.

    Other ideas can be found in Cut and Fold Techniques for Promotional Materials and Folding Techniques for Designers: from Sheet to Form by Paul Jackson. These books give step-by-step instructions on how to create three-dimensional eye-catching products, although they tend to be more complicated than most of Witkowski’s folds.

    The versatility of folding allows designers in many areas to exercise more freedom when adapting to specific needs. Although Jackson’s folds are mostly used to teach design students, he claims his ‘practical concepts of folding . . . can be adapted infinitely by any designer from any design discipline, using any sheet material.’

    Most people do not give folding enough credit. The physical design of a printed piece is often the first thing people notice, long before their eyes scan the words or images, and sometimes before they even pick it up.

    Perhaps the fold’s greatest asset is its affordability: when compared to Pantone and metallic ink, die cutting, embossing, etc., adding a creative fold to a piece can be one of the most cost-effective ways to enhance tactile response.

    PrintingForLess.com offers standard folds on most items for only one cent more than the base price, and complex folds which have to be folded by hand begin at six cents over the base price, depending on the intricacies of the fold and the weight of the paper.

    Ideas from Witkowski and Jackson are only the beginning in the vast realm of folding techniques. The versatility of the fold allows every designer to fit his or her needs and incite greater interest for viewers in a cost-effective manner.

    Consider Your Options when Binding Multiple Pages

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    Are you in a bind trying to decide how best to present multiple pages of information?

    This is your guide to organizing your ideas in a presentable way; namely, through any one of the four main types of binding. These four categories range in cost-effectiveness and professionalism. Once you have a goal for your piece in the crosshairs, you will know where your piece falls on the grid.

    Saddle stitching is the most cost-effective option when it comes to binding your piece. This is the type of binding that you often see in calendars and brochures: usually two or three staples along the spine, halfway through the sheets. The staples will show through on the opposite side, but for many pieces this does not pose an issue. Saddle stitching gives a casual feel while still presenting your information in a well-organized manner.

    SquareBackBindingSamples

     

    Square-back binding, shown above, is a cross between saddle stitching and perfect binding, which we will cover later. Square-back is similar to saddle stitching in the way it is produced, and only slightly more expensive: the pages are still stapled on a saddle, but then pressed until the piece resembles perfect binding, with the addition of a few staples showing along the outside of the spine. Square-back binding is slightly more professional than saddle stitching, but still maintains the value pricing. This type of binding works well for short children’s books and short-run magazines.

    Plastic coil and wire spiral binding are similar in price, but have varying appeals. Both are durable, and can open 360 degrees. On the aesthetic scale these types of binding lean more toward the side of the casual brochure or booklet for a meeting or conference. Using wire binding gives your piece a slightly more finished look than plastic. However, plastic coil can be purchased in a variety of colors to further compliment your brand consistency.coilboundbooklets2

    Perfect binding grants the best value, and is ideal for pieces with a larger page count. Although square-back binding might work for shorter volumes, perfect binding can be used for anything with 40 sheets or more, and provides the finest finished look for many pieces. Perfect binding uses a durable, strong adhesive inside the spine to hold your pages together, and is ideal for many larger magazines, books, manuals and catalogs.

    When it comes to binding, price often dictates choice. Binding is an afterthought in most printed pieces, and its value is not considered at the forefront. You may have the perfect design for your pages, but binding is necessary to complete your multi-page project.

    Keep an eye on the piece as a whole when first considering your target price during the design phase—don’t get to the last phase and leave yourself in a bind about the bind. Hold it together with a choice that supports the quality and goal of the rest of the piece.

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