Variable data printing (VDP) is a key technology in the production of unique and personalized products. Derived from digital printing, the three key components in a successful VDP workflow are the creative aspect, the database management, and the print production. A designer needs to be familiar with all three in order to obtain the skills needed to design for VDP. However, VDP's trend for growth is not as rapid as the industry had projected. This research examined how a variable data workflow was set up in a print production environment. The production workflow and the skills needed to properly design documents for VDP were the focal points of the research. Two designers, two advertising agencies, and five print companies participated in this research study. Additionally, graphic design and graphic communication undergraduate programs were examined across many institutions to see which of them offer instruction in VDP. From this research, it was seen that one likely reason for the delay in growth for VDP was that creative professionals working in print production do not have the adequate training or skill level needed to fully embrace offering variable data solutions. This concept was reinforced by the lack of instruction on the subject at the college level, particularity in the discipline of Graphic Design. Other delays are caused by the multiple workflows used in creating variable documents. Finally, a common limitation to VDP was the lack of data needed to create a successful variable data piece. Based on these findings, the researcher created an outline for a VDP class. The outline focuses on teaching skill sets needed to design for VDP, as determined through this research. It is the goal of this project to make leads in finding solutions to close the gap between design and production in designing for VDP.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Digital printing; Color printing--Digital techniques; Layout (Printing)--Data processing; Graphic arts--Study and teaching; Graphic design (Typography)--Study and teaching
Department, Program, or Center
School of Print Media (CIAS)
Jordan, Jessica, "Designing for digital: skill sets needed to design for variable data" (2009). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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