What is an artworker?

06 Sep

When I was applying to jobs in London (I lived one year there) and Rome (this is recently) I was many times in the position to explain what exactly I do. Many people asked me for portfolio but I couldn’t find the right words to explain that my portfolio not looks like a Creative professional one, is not like an Art Director one: I am a professional in other kind of things.
I do this job for at least 10 years so it must be a real job not something “intermediate” to other “job with portfolios”.

Rob Cubbon is a professional who explained quite well what we do and what an Artworker/DTP exactly means:

I will copy the entirely article but you may click and go to his website – where you’ll find a lot of more interesting stuff that I will not write about it – because he already said best. 🙂

What is an artworker?

Many people have asked me this question and, in the absence of a Wikipedia entry, here’s my definition.

The term pre-dates desktop publishing when “artwork” or “mechanical art” meant the material (photography, bromide, film, tranparency) or completed, camera-ready pages that could be photographed with a stat camera to make a same-size film that would be used to create a printed product.
Now, an artworker is someone who produces a print-ready product.
Artworkers get a concept from a designer (either in drawing or digital form) and use the appropriate software to create it.
An artworker would understand the basics of printing (cmyk, line screens, spot colours, etc.) as well as design, typesetting, formatting and colour correction. It would be rare to find an artworker with no eye for design.
They should be highly proficient in a number of basic graphics applications, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand, QuarkXpress and InDesign as well as having a basic grasp of how to sort large amounts of information in Excel and Word. Knowledge of JavaScript and XML is also handy in creating automated work flows and negating the need for repetitive tasks.
A “traditional artworker” means someone who – maybe a compositor in the past – has the necessary craft skills to cut, fold and glue paper in order to mock up packaging or other design visuals.
A “creative artworker” is someone who is perhaps half way between a designer and an artworker. They would be required to design print-ready artwork on the fly or be called upon to apply a certain design style across a range of printed material.


I left the following comment on his blog, I guess I completed his description (and you may go there and see how other people describe this job):

“My main task here is to assure that the files are sent perfectly to the printing houses. Artists have more freedom to create – thinking that I am behind them to assure their jobs to be delivered technical correctly.
I also continue projects who have “the approved stamp” from Creative Directors.
For example, now I’m working on some leaflets – one Art Director made one sample and I have to adapt this sample to five of the products the client have.
Last week, as we were a creative team in an election campaign, I made newspapers ads (40+) based on three designs came from an Art Director – adaptations with the newspapers guidelines.
A month ago a client wanted to create a 2012 catalog based on their 2011 model. This job was given directly to me as the primary design was done already.
The same with other catalog for other client; the same with some simple invitations…

This is my job in this agency. Even some stuff are passed directly to me, I cannot call myself “creative” – at least not 100%. I cannot say “I did that design”, I cannot put it in some “sample portfolio”.

Pure design were when I acted as a freelancer…

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Posted by on 06/09/2012 in DTP


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