Announcing the first In-House Label Design Competiton!

Posted on by Savannah Brodeur

We’re hosting our very first In-House Label Design Competition!

This means that those of you who design your companies’ product labels are finally going to get the recognition you deserve. Every in-house label designer is eligible to enter their product label artwork, and entries will be judged by a panel of packaging experts. The entry fee doesn’t exist – it’s totally free of charge to enter the contest.

Watch this short video about the In-House Label Design Competition. 

What Can You Win?

The public announcement of winners will be held at Pack Expo in Chicago on November 3rd, 2014.

The statuette that you'll recieve if you're the grand prize winner.
The statuette that you’ll receive if you’re the grand prize winner.
  • The Grand prize winner will win $500 and the coveted “Quickly” trophy.
  • Second prize winner will win $300.
  • Third place winner will win $150.

Why Are We Recognizing In-House Label Designers?

We know that being an in-house label designer can be a job with a lot of responsibility and too little reward. You face short deadlines, hear conflicting opinions from your boss, colleagues, and customers, work with low-resolution graphics, shoot your own photos, come up with great new product names off the top of your head, and more!

But now all of your efforts will no longer go unrecognized. By hosting this competition, QuickLabel is aiming to recognize the work that goes behind each label.

There are people in the business that have an art degree, and there are some who don’t. Your level of talent in art, or anything else,  isn’t measured by how many years you went to college for it – it’s measured by how much of your soul that you pour into it! And as in-house label designers, you pour an overflowing amount. Sometimes that can be hard, and sometimes that can be easy, but both deserve recognition.

Who is Eligible to Enter?

What if you don’t own a QuickLabel printer?

The answer to that is super simple: you don’t have to own a QuickLabel printer to enter into the competition. We’re urging all in-house label designers to enter.

How to Enter the In-House Label Design Competition

Enter and submit your label artwork.

How can you win all that extra cash and that awesome trophy for your desk if you don’t submit your labels? You can’t. Actually, you won’t.

So where’s the harm in trying? The only thing you have to lose is nothing. Finalists will be contacted in October, and those who won will be announced on November 3, 2014 at the Pack Expo trade show in Chicago.

So, think it over. If you want to submit, then do it here. We accept .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, and please make sure these files are less than 10 Mb. So, it’s time to whip out your thinking caps and open up Photoshop!

We’re waiting for you.


Do you have any questions about the In-House Label Design Competition?

Please contact Charles Smith. We always love to hear from you – no matter the reason.

You can also contact us via Facebook, Twitter, and our website.

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Design Tips: How to Prepare Label Artwork

Posted on by kginter

Whether you own your own color
label printer or you have your labels custom printed by a label company, you want make sure you are getting the best possible label quality. Knowing the ins and outs of how to design a label to be printed is one of the most important ways to ensure you’ll get the best quality label.

I picked the brains of our Art Director Kendall and our Production Artist Joel, and I’m here with some helpful tips on how to design a label to print, either on your own color label printer either or on a commercial label press with the help of a designer.

If You are Designing & Printing Your Own Labels:

Here are some of Kendall’s tips for printing your own labels that he believes are important to abide by:

  • Use high-quality images
    It is said that poor quality in results in poor quality out. If an image is blurry or jagged, or has a low dpi, then the color label printer will output the same quality. Images on the internet are usually at 72dpi. This resolution is all that is required to be seen on a monitor. For printing purposed a 72 dpi image in not a usable file by most printers. A color label printer can’t magically add pixels that aren’t there or sharpen an image by replacing pixels; it prints only the data within the file. So make sure your 600 dpi label printer has photos (and logos) that are 600 dpi and appear crisp on screen. This segues nicely into our next topic…
  • Watch out for Anti-aliasing
    Anti-alias takes an object’s edge and creates anti-aliasing primitives which vary in opacity – this gives the object the appearance that it is blending into the background. This is very helpful when printing a color object or colored text over a photograph or a background color. However, anti-alias is not recommended for printing text or small curved shapes over a white background because many color label printers may not be able to render the edge’s lower opacity.

    Actual printed sample, enlarged to show detail.

    This may make the text or image over a white background appear fuzzy.
    To further clarify, if you design a label in Adobe® Illustrator® that needs to be exported as a .TIF, and it has a nutrition facts panel on a white background and a primary display panel with image including text over color, then it may be beneficial to export the entire label as “no anti-alias” because the black text is on a white background. However, if the label is created in Adobe Photoshop®, then the black text on white can be set to “no anti-alias,” while the text on a color background can be set to “anti-alias.” Remember to “Save As” a flattened .TIF for exporting.

  • When to use process black vs. pure black
    When black is printed over another color (eg, when black text is printed over a color photo or block of color), then process color black should be used. This will eliminate the appearance of mis-registration. When black text is used over white, then pure black (0C, 0M, 0Y, 100K, or 0R, 0G, 0B) can be used.
  • Design within the CMYK color gamut
    4-color process printing,  also known as CMYK printing, is achieved by overlapping two or more of these four colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Computer monitors display colors that cannot be reproduced within the CMYK color gamut, because their native RGB color space has a wider gamut than CMYK. Make sure the colors in the artwork you create fall within the CMYK color gamut. To check, look at the color picker in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, and note whether your color has the little alert triangle indicating that it is out of gamut. If so, allow the software to automatically replace your color with the in-gamut approximation. Do you like it? If not, you may want to select a different color. Tip: You can still design in RGB color mode, since the RGB and CMYK gamuts overlap – just make sure it is within the CMYK color gamut.
  • Brush up on label requirements
    Be aware of whether you are required to place statements such as Nutritional Facts Panels or an Ingredients List on your label (see our Small Business Exemptions blog for more info). Be sure to verify ingredients, nutrition facts panels, and the acceptability of any label claims you may make such as “Organic” or “All Natural.”
  • Make sure your message is clear
    If you’re working with a designer, he or she may suggest an alternative ways to order the imagery and text on your label to keep the most powerful message front and center. Be sure to explain what makes your product unique and attractive so that the designer understands what you want to emphasize.
  • Proofread your Design!
    Have a second or even third pair of eyes read over the information on your label. Double check spelling, names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc. before printing your label! Also, be sure to thoroughly check the print quality for areas that may need to be touched up.
  • Integrate your Label Design with your other Marketing Messages
    Make your labels consistent with your advertising and website. Your label is the first ad consumers will see.

If You Are Ordering Labels from a Printing Company …

  • When you’re looking for a label designer…
    Be specific about your goals for your label, and about any requirements you may have, such as the inclusion of logos or special colors. Try to give the designer the creative freedom to design your label by telling them what you want your label to say instead of exactly how it should look. Joel shares “No matter what, I always try to get a “feel” of what the customer wants. Light, strong, peaceful, eye-catching, etc.”
  • Give the designer a Main Point of Contact
    If you’re working with a label designer, be sure to make someone from your company available as the main point of contact to answer questions and approve artwork changes. It can become confusing when there are too many cooks in the kitchen!
  • If YOU Are the Label Designer …
    Ask your printing company for their submission guidelines before providing your artwork. You may not be able to comply with all requests, but it’s a good idea to give the Production Artist the best possible materials to work with.
  • Ask whether to use RGB color or CMYK Color
    If you are designing your own labels to be printed on a commercial label press, you should ask whether the Production Artist prefers to receive artwork in RGB color or CMYK color. It’s best to ask before you create your artwork, so you can save yourself the effort of re-designing to overcome inadvertent color shifting to do gamut mis-match.
  • Ask about Output Resolution
    When you export your artwork from your native design environment (such as Adobe Illustrator®), it’s a good rule of thumb to export to the highest resolution of the printer that will make your labels. Otherwise, a minimum resolution of 600 dpi is recommended.
  • How to use spot colors in your label design
    If you are having your labels printed on a flexographic or offset press, you may choose to use Spot colors, or PMS® colors, in addition to CMYK process colors. The advantage of using Spot Colors is that they can produce a 100% match to your target PMS color, whereas CMYKL process color printing can only approximate target colors (although they often come very close!) If you would like to see how your target color looks in CMYK process mode, refer to Pantone’s “Color Bridge” guide which will show a side by side comparison of CMYK and Spot. Note: In Thermal Transfer Printing, Spot colors can be reproduced via single spot color ribbons.
  • Ask about export file format types
    Most label designers usually prefer to receive original design files such as .psd or .ai files. If you prefer to export your original artwork, find out what types of files can be accepted. Examples might include: .pdf; .eps;.tif;.pcx.
  • Include Fonts or Flatten Artwork
    The font you’ve chosen for the text on your label might not be in the Production Artists’ library, especially if it’s a specialty font. This could lead the designer to mistakenly make a default font substitution, but there’s a solution: before exporting your artwork, it’s a good idea to convert type to paths. This way, the artist can print the fonts as artwork rather than live text. Also, type size should never be smaller than 4 point type and 5-6 is recommended for best results.
  • Get a proof of your label before you order the print job
    Ask your label printing company to provide you with a physical proof of your label before they run your order. Review it for print quality, color, and content. Is everything correct? In all cases, if you need something color matched, it is best to provide a color sample of what you want, otherwise you may be disappointed to see that printed colors may vary. It’s amazing how many little things you can notice once you hold a proof in your hand. This way you won’t be surprised when you receive your final shipment of labels.

There you have it my friends, QuickLabel’s tips on how to design a label to print on a color label printer. Get on out there and start designing and printing labels and keep us posted on how everything works out!

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