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12/23/2002 - Litho Art Printers Conquers Digital Color

Lithography was the first new printing technology since the invention of relief printing in the fifteenth century. Invented in 1798, lithography was the first color-printing tool. To make a lithograph, the artist paints or draws with greasy ink or crayons on especially prepared limestone. The stone is moistened with water, and oily ink is applied with a roller. The ink adheres only to the drawing and is repelled by the wet parts of the stone. Finally, pressing paper against the inked drawing makes the print.

Although photographic processes replaced stone lithography at the beginning of the twentieth century, lithography still connotes the highest quality of color printing. While computer technology, such as PostScript, has easily solved the most complex problems of typographic design, color accuracy and portability remains a stubborn, seldom-conquered challenge in today’s digital era. Multi-color printing, from single to full color, is the mainstay of Litho Art Printers, at 118 S. Lincoln. “Our mission,” says Litho Art Vice President Omega Chandler, “is ‘Do it right the first time; better than anyone else’.” “This is a challenge faced daily," says Kent Chandler, Litho Art President.

Kent and Omega Chandler acquired Litho Art Printers in 1990. Twelve years later, printing is as vastly different as lithograph stones were from lead type. Twelve years ago, “camera ready copy” was the sine qua non. Today it’s all-digital, at least 95% of the time. (Litho Art still has their big camera for those few long-term customers that still need it.)

Litho Art produces corporate stationary, presentation folders, full color annual reports, brochures, newsletters, direct mail pieces, and other business, corporate and association printing. They print the cards sent for Gonzaga’s Jundt Art Gallery openings, Lorinda Knight’s mailers, the programs for Interplayers, and the dining program for Epicurean Delight. They print booklets. They do the saddle stitching in house. Litho Art does die cutting, embossing, and foil stamping in-house. They have even printed and foil stamped candy bar wrappers.

The staff at Litho Art works closely with the client through all the many steps involved in a printing project. The client’s designed printing job arrives at Litho Art either electronically or on disk. Along with the digital design, the client turns in laser printed proofs of the design (called lasers). Litho Art then loads the designed piece onto their computers. Their pre-press department has two Mac’s and two PC’s each running Adobe, Macromedia and Quark software. For the PC platform, they also have Corel, and Microsoft.

Knowing that computers can do interesting things behind your back, Litho Art does a “flight check” of the design. They look everything over carefully, and all of the copy is carefully proofread. Lasers are also made on Litho Art’s laser printers. Litho Art’s lasers are then carefully compared to the client’s lasers. If a discrepancy is found, the client is consulted, changes are made, and finally the lasers are approved. Edits can be made to this point with usually minimal additional cost to the customer.

If the customer requests them, digital proofs are run. When all is approved, the actual film for printing is produced. Film is produced on an Agfa Imagesetter. Next comes the bluelines. The blueline proof shows exactly how it will look when complete --- except it’s all done in blue. This proof catches any problem with physical layout, folds, or size. The client then approves the blueline.

The final pre-press step is the Color Art proofs. This is the final test of the colors to be certain the colors match the vision of the designer and the client. If it doesn’t quite work, adjustments can be made. When the color proofs are approved, it’s time to go to press.

Clients may choose to do a “press check.” This is done at the time of production, and scheduling is critical. Slight adjustments to color can be made during the press check. Finally, they run the presses, and they always complete the job on time.

Litho Art Printing uses only high-end Heidelberg presses and Heidelberg bindery equipment in their immaculate shop. There are two-color presses, a large, 29-inch format press and a small format press, a foiling and embossing press, and a five-color, 20-inch perfector press. The five-color press can print both sides at the same time and put down all of the colors in the same run: cutting printing time tremendously. In post press, there are folders, cutters, stitchers, and complementary equipment.

Very soon, Litho Art Printers will have increased production for saddle-stitched booklets, programs, and magazines. This will be made possible due to the acquisition of a six-pocket signature collator, stitcher, and three-knife trimmer, with auto/score cover feeder.

For more information, contact Omega Chandler at Litho Art Printers, Inc. (509) 838-3646 or e-mail omega@lithoartprinters.com.

Billie Moreland
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