A short walk away from Rockefeller Center and Time Inc. lies a facility of the second largest magazine printer in the world, Quad Graphics Media Solutions Center. Professor Andrea Baron’s Magazine Production and Design class visited Quad at its Manhattan location on October 14th, 2014.
After receiving our visitor name tags at the reception desk, we were ushered into an impressive and well-lit conference room where a pleasing array of refreshments and complimentary pens and pencils bearing Quad’s name awaited us. Between bites of cookies and sips of soda and water, we pored over the pages of Quad’s portfolio and examined finished copies of some of the popular publications Quad works with, including Vogue, Seventeen, and Entertainment Weekly. Over the course of our nearly three-hour visit, our two presenters, Imaging Operations Manager Steve Stoma and Media Solutions Sales Representative Eric Johnson, took us on a visual and walking tour of the varied forms of media magic that Quad specializes in.
Quad is a national network of facilities that offer its clients a range of print, digital, and video-based media solutions, including dynamic imaging and augmented reality (AR). Emphasizing high quality and fast turn-around times, it operates according to three tenets: create, optimize, and connect. After the publisher creates artwork such as magazine layouts and covers, Quad takes that product and optimizes its content, enhancing color to achieve the best possible reproduction quality. Quad also connects content to the physical and digital channels of tablets and the Web. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Quad processes over 200,000 images and 90,000 pages of content annually.
The majority of the properties handled at the Manhattan location are magazines, many belonging to such publishers as Condé Nast and Hearst Magazines. We saw firsthand that the work of transforming each title into the alluring, polished products we encounter at the newsstands is quite a fascinating and meticulous process. Specific calibrations for color are checked on a daily basis and color-controlled monitors and booths equipped with proper lighting are used to view images. It is not uncommon for the teams in the customer service and retouching departments to work well into the night, checking hard and soft proofs for color, and digital blue lines for content layout. Continuous rounds of correction occur until each client is fully satisfied. Indeed, like the mythical elves at Santa’s workshop, the staff at Quad works diligently, seeming to fashion magic out of thin air.
Having had an enjoyable glimpse behind the scenes, we left Quad armed with new knowledge and a few souvenirs.