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Frank Romano on 10 middle class jobs that will vanish by 2018

Published on May 30, 2012

This week, Frank discusses and rants a bit about a recent report about 10 middle class jobs that will vanish by 2018. Desktop publishers caught Frank's eye on the list and he takes a bit of an issue with it!




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By Connie Manoliu on May 30, 2012

I applaud the sentiment of your comments this week, but having been in printing over 30 years in graphic design and technology management, there is indeed a wide difference in a desktop publisher, and a graphic designer. A graphic designer typically has a college degree in the field whereas a desktop publisher is just software proficient. They are correct that desktop publishers are being phased out as office workers take up minor office publishing, and graphic designers not only design the pieces but execute them as well. This is a trend that has been going on a number of years.

I always enjoy your comments!


By John Clifford on May 30, 2012

Hmmm. When I worked for GTS Graphics managing production desktop publishing for textbooks, the median was actually a little probably closer to $40,000 but that having been said, none of those jobs (at the time just in the LA operation we had between 30-50 people just doing DTP) is now being done in the US. All of them from that company have moved to India since the purchase of the company by Aptara. Perhaps that's why they're seen as "going away." They're still being done, just not here.


By John Clifford on May 30, 2012

Connie actually has it somewhat right. After over 40 years in the industry (typesetter, technical manager, prepress manager, etc.) I'm now teaching future designers how to actually produce files that are press ready.


By Richard Gwyn on May 30, 2012

Put up a project done by a DTP and same assignment by a graphic designer and see the difference.


By John Clifford on May 30, 2012

In my experience, the DTP file will have proper bleed, will conform to the appropriate layout grid, will have folios which are consistent, will use masterpages and stylesheets to ensure consistency, will have colors in the right color space, will have proper spot colors and process colors.

A file from a designer will be well designed, but not necessarily ready for print.

My hope is to have future generations of designers be able to do the things that DTP people are now capable of producing.


By Connie Manoliu on May 30, 2012

I don't buy that in this day and age. All of our people have design degrees. We are a printing company with an in house ad agency which is occurring more and more. Good client communication is a must.

I consider DTP on the lines of typesetters which are a vanishing breed.


By John Clifford on May 30, 2012

Ouch. Having been a typesetter for almost 20 years(who, by the way learned much of his business by reading Frank Romano's excellent publication, TypeWorld--Suckup comment) I'm not so sure that it's a good thing. I can't say that type has benefitted from designers who don't understand kerning and proper justification.

I know that the program that I'm in teaches prepress production, but I also know that many "Design" programs don't. Students come to me after a full year of design classes not knowing that bleed is needed or why. They don't understand the difference between spot and process color, rgb vs. cmyk, why some colors are "out of gamut," etc. They especially don't know how to set up a die line, emboss, varnish, etc. As a result, many of them don't even know what a varnish or coating is or that it's a great tool for them.

Having a mixture of people who understand printing and who understand design is the ideal I know, but isn't there room for the specialist any more? Someone who really knows the printing process? Do all prepress people really need to be designers? I'm just askin'


By Rossitza Sardjeva on May 31, 2012

Fully agreed with Mr. Clifford words - in many cases designers don't understand the essence of printing...


By Richard Peck on May 31, 2012

Being in the business for over 40 years, from hot type, to RIT, to selling prepress & sheetfed, to a digital print lead estimator..... the majority who I've worked with knew very little about the basics of color reproduction. I compare this lack of knowledge to entering a building on the fifteenth floor. They've missed all the pertinent information of the first fourteen floors. I used to hold "basics" seminars for the magazine production departments at my accounts, which helped tremendously! It improved the communication effort 100%! I feel bad for those who don't have a grasp on the basics, but I do enjoy explaining what I can, when I can. It does seem to be more often these days:-)


By Paul Foster on May 31, 2012

Having worked as a "Desktop Publisher" for a number of years I am still amazed at how little production knowledge is possessed by fledgling Graphic Designers. To gauge whether a Designer knows what they are doing from a production standpoint all one has to do is open a multipage document that they have created and it is immediately evident whether they possess production skills or not. Most use InDesign as an electronic pasteup board rather then a production tool.

The key question that needs to be considered by designers when they are creating a document is "How easy will it be for me to make changes to this document if it ever needs to be revised?" I would venture to guess that this question never enters the mind.

I was never a fan of the title Desktop Publisher (I preferred "Production Artist") but now I think Layout Engineer is more appropriate. A layout engineer efficiently funnels data (text, images, tables, databases) into efficiently constructed layouts that are easily revised if necessary. In addition, they export the data from the finished layout to a variety of formats (web, ebooks, etc.) ideally with a push of the button.

I feel for Graphic Designers these days because the responsibility of doing what a production artist did in the past is being pushed their way and most are ill equipped to perform these tasks---after all, it's not the designing that they were taught in school and layout engineering can be tedious.

Adobe's PDF format was a knight in shining armor when it came on the scene in that it "freezes" the content and provides a reliable way to output. PDF, however, exacerbates the revision challenge mentioned above in that it provides an easy out---after all "the document printed correctly didn't it?"

It's interesting that nearly every step in the printing process has realized tremendous efficiency gains EXCEPT for the creation of layouts.

Find a designer that is creative AND can engineer a layout and you have yourself a goldmine! Alternatively, find a "Layout Engineer [read Desktop Publisher]" who can take a design concept and construct a production ready layout that is easily multi-purposed and you also have a goldmine.

As far as the salary goes, I recently made the annual salary of a "Desktop Publisher" in a month and a half by taking a poorly constructed series of publications (requiring regular revision) and turning them into highly efficient layouts that are easily revised and multi-purposed. Opportunities are abundant . . .

From an education standpoint, the questions we face are:

1. How do we equip designers with the skills to appreciate and perform these layout engineering tasks?
2. How do we identify, train, and make a place for "not quite" designers that would be excellent Layout Engineers?

. . . as Desktop Publishers ride into the sunset . . .


By Margie Dana on May 31, 2012

I find the term "Desktop Publisher" extremely outdated, first of all. People outside of this industry are clueless when it comes to commercial printing, and that includes they know nothing about graphic design or file prep or production management.

Professional print buyers (also a traditional and soon-to-disappear title) are the corporate aces who know about print manufacturing, file prep, and design software, enabling them to shepherd jobs between internal "clients" and external commercial service providers. Admins and secretaries are NOT skilled in this regard. Some people (bosses) believe that with the right tools (Macs and apps), creating beautiful print-ready files are a snap. Ha!


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