Posters are a great item that has been around forever. We’ve all had them on our walls depicting our favourite bands, movies or pieces of artwork and so they have a place in our culture that is hard to replace (a bit like stickers – we love to print sticker!) at the low cost that posters often are. However, the posters that we are talking about now are mass produced, litho items that cost only a few pounds. What if you wanted to print your very own poster – how would you do it? Well, you need to find a printer that has a wide format machine capable of doing large posters (same as you’d use for banner printing), not just leaflet printing. A good print service will have this, but not all do so it’s worth checking. A good printer will also be printing brochures by the dozen, so they will be experienced as well, making sure that you’ll get the best job possible.
One problem is often the resolution of the artwork files. Because posters are large they need to be of high enough resolution not to be pixellated when printed at full size and this can be difficult to achieve – files like this are not freely available. Help is at hand however, as most good printers such as Suraprint will have access to an online image library that contains really big images that you can use as part of your design. They might charge you a little for this service, but it’s worth it if you want real quality for your one-off poster print. Of course, any vector aspects of your design won’t be affected by the resolution and if your design is mostly geometric shapes or text you may not need any high res images at all. Business cards printing don’t need huge res files, so it wouldn’t be a problem in that case.
One thing that most people find surprising is how expensive a one-off custom print is compared to a poster from a shop. This is because shop posters are mass produced and thus are a lot cheaper to make. One-off poster pricing has to take into account the setup time for the machine and the time it takes the pre-press guy to check and prepare the design ready for print. If you get a quote for say 500 posters and work out what each one costs, you’ll actually see that it’s the ones in the high street shops that are expensive! Of course, these need to make a profit when sold, and the designer, manufacturer and retailer will all want a cut of the final selling price.