How to Become an Artworker

Broadly speaking an artworker is the person who will take a design, tidy it up and get it ready for printing – they are not graphic designers. It is seen by some as quite a traditional role in the sense that modern DTP programs seemingly eliminate the need for the artworker role, however many design studios still prefer to employ people in this role, and perhaps with good reason.

Despite modern design programs being feature rich, many print houses despair that most graphic design graduates leave university unable to prepare a document ready for printing. Custom design work can be expensive and it can be tempting for businesses to contemplate producing their own design work or re-using existing templates already produced by professional graphic designers. However, achieving a professional finish in printed media does require the services of an artworker.

The artworker therefore fulfills an essential role in correcting and formatting documents before they are sent to the printers. Those that think this role will take them onto becoming graphic designers will be disappointed as this is not a creative role, rather one based on technical skills and many advertised positions will state this.

Generally speaking this role can be fulfilled in one of two ways, either as a Mac operator or as an artworker and graphic artist:

Mac Operators

An entry level into an artworker’s position is as a Mac operator. Much design work is produced on Macs so if you have knowledge and experience of them and associated software it can be easy to find work on both a full and part time basis. The role is generally one of correcting documents, spell checking and applying pre-determined templates, however in print houses and some design agencies the role can be more technical.

Artworkers and Graphic Artists

To gain employment as an artworker you will need to be highly skilled in software such as Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and QuarkXpress as well as experience using Macs and PC’s alike. As mentioned before, this role is generally not a creative one and you would not be expected to have any input in the creative design process, but you would be expected to be able to take a designer’s brief and bring it to life.

The role of an artworker is most important where designs need to be made ready for print or pre-press and many artworker jobs can be found in this sector of the industry. Whilst you will also need skills with the usual graphic design software, you will also need extensive knowledge of print production techniques such as trapping, ink density and color reproduction as when there are printing to be done, be it business cards, postcards, calendars or brochures printing, you need to know what to do. These days artworkers may also be required to work on web design projects and other forms of digital media.

Although professional qualifications are not always required, anyone looking to become an artworker will need to be experienced and proficient with the latest design and DTP software and be able to work with both Macs and PC’s. Those with extensive knowledge of Photoshop are often in high demand. Artworker jobs can be in-house with a design agency, print house or art studio or you may choose to work on a freelance basis taking work on an ad-hoc basis as suits you.

Barry Magennis is an SEO in the UK and blogs on all things digital including career advice on media jobs, artworker jobs and graphic design.