Having had the pleasure of working with Tom Sharer for nearly 8 years, I can attest he’s one of the most easy-going people you’ll ever meet. He’s our production manager and an art director, so his days are never boring. He could be on a press check or meeting a client’s challenge with a unique design.
Tom may be laid back, but he’s never missed a beat. With 20 years under his belt, I wanted to get insight into how he’s embraced change and effortlessly managed it all over the last two decades.
Can you describe a typical workday?
On a typical workday, I may be involved in crafting new design elements, pitching ideas to clients, reviewing graphics, coordinating with other artists, keeping track of quotes and budgets, working with printers, and viewing press checks.
What’s changed the most about your career over the last 20 years?
Technology and the impact of commercial print. Today, other forms of media are distributing information at an increasing rate. First radio, then television, and now the internet and social media have taken market share. This has reduced the demand for the majority of printed material, but there’s still a demand for some forms of printed material like packaging and direct mail advertising that are not as susceptible to replacement by electronic formats.
What’s remained the same?
Change. My work will never stop evolving or improving. There will always be new challenges to overcome, new problems to solve. It’s a never-ending style or tone, desired for each project, which results in a whirlwind of discovery while keeping projects on budget and on time.
What side do you enjoy more, production or design?
Both, I’m lucky that I have the best of both worlds. I can design and be creative, go to client meetings and within minutes be on a press check working with the press operators or finishers to get the best possible product.
What’s your favorite part of the production process?
Press checks-I still feel they add value. I can work with the printer to achieve nuances and improvements in color that might not have been achieved if I had not been present. There is always something to learn. I have direct contact with behind-the-scenes production personnel that clients wouldn’t normally have access to.
What are you looking for when you’re on a press check?
A press check is an on-site, last-chance proofing step for the main purpose of achieving accuracy. Most projects benefit from that one last opportunity to ensure color comes as close as possible to what you are seeking, from someone who is intimate with the project – they may notice something that someone else would not. It also affords you the hands-on ability to ensure a quality outcome for your client. The purpose of a press check is simply to make sure that the printing meets expectations.
What’s your favorite part of design?
One of, if not the, absolute best things about working in the design field is helping bring a client’s vision to life that makes a positive impact. It’s not just about creating attractive visuals, it’s about problem solving, good communication, working with people, and creating designs that are relevant to people.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone interested in a career in design?
Be flexible, willing, and hungry…. not just this career but for anything. When I first started out I was told be a sponge and absorb as much as you can from the people around you.
“It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” -Les Brown
Thanks Tom! Here’s to 20 years!