Accepting imperfection

Last week, after eight months in development, a brochure I wrote and designed arrived on my desk. It was my final sample—and the first time I saw the piece bound with all eleven inserts collated and in place.

Since I was just returning from a couple of days out of the office I quickly thumbed through it and put it aside. The next morning I received a lovely email from an old friend. This isn't just any old friend—but one of the finest print sales people I ever had the chance to work with. She now works at Mohawk and has a deep understanding of design and paper. She too had seen an early copy and had this to say:

"I just received my preview copy of Printing Basics. WOW! As you probably know, when someone from the industry reads a piece such as this, we look for what is wrong… (Crappy, but true). Not only is the content spot on, the design, production and printing is flawless. I can honestly say that this is the best job I have ever seen! Job well done."

Nice, right?

I read the email and picked up my sample. I slowly read it through. I looked at every diagram and demonstration. I held it up to the light to check registration and ink lay. I looked at the precision of the bindery and the accuracy of the insertions. And I felt good. Proud. Proud of the team that made it possible and happy that my client trusted me for such an important piece.

Fast-forward a couple of days. I'm on the phone with my client and come to find out that there is a glaring typo IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH. My initial response is an inward dive—how could I be so dumb? Why can't I spell properly? How did spell check miss it? Crushing, crashing waves of guilt.

Luckily my client chuckled a little and admitted that she couldn't believe THEY had missed it. (They route everything to a team of several people for proofing and sign off). Somehow we all had read right past that word.

So while I still feel a bit ridiculous, I don't feel crippled. I hope other designers will read it, laugh, maybe feel a little superior—then move on to the really great content that we developed.