Cusco, Peru... Printing PADDINGTON
Jul 13, 2005
|Well, I obviously did not touch wood aftering writing that "La Comercial", my chosen printer offered the best price, time delivery and that Señor Felix understood my project (10 June, Marketing PADDINGTON).
I turned up on Monday at 4:30pm (contracted for 4pm), full of excitment, and found that the postcards were not ready - punctual to Latino time. In fact, he hasn't even started printing them yet (and not even bought the card needed)!! But I didn't mind too much, as was able to correct an embarassing spelling error, and was allowed to stay for an hour to observe the printing process. It was all new and exciting to me!!
He explained that the computer separated the picture into four different colours; magenta, cyan, yellow and black. Each layer of colours were printed onto a piece of tracing paper, so that the design could be transferred onto the photosensitive offset plates, and then developed. He forgot how long the second batch of plates were in the light table for, and we had to make a guess. But no worries.
Watched him clean the press machine, and loaded the magenta ink into it (and almost accidently putting in cyan) - as it requires the darkest ink to be printed first. Just had enough time to watch a test print (and finding out that his wife had cut the size of the paper wrong), before having to go and get ready for dinner. He assured me the postcards would be ready by 7:30pm, as I insisted on having them that day.
Returned at 8:30pm, the workshop was dark. They were printed, yes, but were so freshly off the press that the wet colour ink smudged onto the back of the crispy white card. They also needed to be guillotined. He asked me to come back the next morning, and yes, the smudges would be cleaned.
Went there the next morning, trying to keep up a polite front. The postcards were stacked neatly in a plastic bag. Looked at the backs, and found the colour smudges still there. I know I am the above average fuss pot, but I don't think it was unreasonable to be dissatisfied with the quality of the colour and bad resolution. He admitted the smudges were his error, but the colour and resolution were mine.
Apparently the background colours (opaqued in Photoshop) were not strong enough, hence not printed - giving a totally different impression of the postcard, to the one I expected. Although I was more upset with the absence of the sky and road, he started to critisise the pixelated lines and fonts(because they were drawn in Photoshop - though I was very happy with the quality of my computer printout), and said he could redraw them for me in Corel Draw. Apparently my drawing was "bad", and that we had misunderstood each other because we spoke different languages. Well, frankly, if he had told me the prints would not be EXACTLY the same as my computer printout, I would have understood - and had expected something "more or less" the same. I understood the first time he said it to me, but he had never mentioned it, nor pointed out the potential lower resolution of the pictures.
Great way to make me feel better about his service!! He tried to sell me the bad prints, offering me a discount. I told him, I didn't only need a discount, because these were for selling - and frankly I wouldn't buy them if I were offered them. He did not answer when I asked if HE would buy them. It was so sad to be discarding them all into the reject pile. As a designer, they were really not up to scratch, and no good to me. As an environmentalist, oh!! all those poor trees wasted!! Not to mention ink and electricity to run the press! I know that he was lamenting more on his economic loss, but that's not so important in my books - he should have been more careful with his work!!
We decided it would be better to reprint them all. Sat with him for "fifteen minutes" for him to "quickly" trace over the lines in Corel. Well, of course that turnd out to be an hour and a half of torture, watching him draw over my design with little care, little understanding of architecture and perspectives. Obviously he wouldn't be a printer if he understood more about designs, but I couldn't help squirming as he ripped my design apart, and put it back together again in a Latino-printer fashion. I can't even begin to describe the way he cut out Paddington Bear and the logo for Inti Huahuacuna...!
I was told they would be ready (for sure) the next day at 6pm, and that there would be no discounts available, as he had to do extra work. Well, great customer service there!! What about it being TWO days late (and a couple of my friends had to leave Cusco, despite wanting badly to buy the postcards)? The numerous of times I had to walk down the freezing cold roads at night, and into a dark unlit courtyard to check on the delivery? I wasn't happy, but said, would only be happy to pay the quoted price if the postcards were up to standard.
The day did not get better, as I frustratedly asked at all the ferretarias (hardware stores) to buy some filler for the holes in the wall. They didn't understand what I wanted, and told me no-one sold them. Feeling so demotivated, and had no reason to turn up at Zarzuela for work in the afternoon. It was only the next day, that I realised I was not only disheartened with the printing of my fundraising project, but I was actually broken hearted.
Could feel the goodness of the day's work starting to slip away as I made my way (for hopefully the last time) to pick up the postcards on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Couldn't remember if he said 6 or 7, but the workshop is supposed to be opened until 8pm. The courtyard was quiet. The door closed, though the light was on inside. Knocked, but no-one answered. Since it was bolted on the inside, was convinced they were there, but not wanting the confrontation. Knocked harder and harder, and was just about to break down into tears (not something I do much) and write them an angry note in broken Spanish, when the wife returned with the children.
She handed me the stack of postcards - admittedly the quality was much better than before. But when I looked at the lines, and the outlines of Paddington... it was not the same!! It did not transmit the level of care and love I had put into the design. Flicked through a few of them, and was upset by the varied quality of the prints. There were also a few with thumbprints, no lines for the building, lines printed upside down from the rest of the drawing. I had waited long enough for the postcards, and they would refuse to reprint, and would insist the quality can be be further improved.
The Señora refused a discount, on the grounds of them doing extra work, and already made a loss with my job. Apparently they gave me 580 postcards, instead of 500. I said I hoped the extra eighty were good ones, and not the ones without lines. But when I got home and counted, there were just over 500, at least 12 of which were of totally unacceptable standard, so I was actually ripped off.
I thought it was cowardly of her husband not even being there, and let his wife cop it. I didn't want to be harsh with her, but told her how sad they have made the experience for me, that they had not continued the same level of care, love and patience with the printing as I had put into the design. They were nice people, a shame that things didn't work out, but I don't believe it was because we had different standards, or language barrier... I hate to say it, but they were slightly incompetant.
But still, now I have finally my postcards. Though not quite the quality I desired, they are still good for promoting the project. After an evening (and morning) of moaning about them, I will put my energy into selling them well, and not feel like I have been cheated, and cheating on my friends and people who buy the postcards (as long as they don't see the original, they would thikn the postcard's good). Just because the printer **** up, I won't let him devalue the rest of the project... Many people have told me it's a good project, it's a good cause, and I will do my best to deliver nonetheless.