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Killer app: Pragati jazzes up its traditional calendar

31 May 2017

Pragati is famed for its award-winning decorative prints. Its annual all-important calendar is a thing to behold. Harsha Paruchuri shares the process with Priya Raju and discloses a couple of behind-the-scene tricks and tips.

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Priya Raju (PR): Please tell us about the calendar that you have produced this year?
Harsha Paruchuri (HP): The 2017 calendar is about the souvenirs from different parts of the world. Our aim has always been to showcase different facets of print through different finishing options. With the “souvenirs” theme, we found striking objects which lend themselves to different kinds of enhancement.

PR: What are the print run and the time taken for production?
HP: The print run for the calendar was 4000. The actual production took about ten working days. It was the different options we tried to see which one we liked and suited the product best which took about 2-3 weeks.

PR: What R&D did it entail?
HP: With some of the images, the decision on what we wanted to do was very clear right from the beginning. Some others we tried a couple of options to see which worked best. We press-proofed all the sheets with all the operations, and then made adjustments as needed and proceeded with the final production.

PR: What challenges did you have to overcome?
HP: As most of the sheets involve multiple varnishes and foils, we needed to ensure the compatibility. For example, some base varnishes do not take foil or raised UV well, so we needed to try different things. Other challenge was to not like a finished sheet, so we always used to get 7-8 sheets designed so we can trash the least impressive sheets.

PR: In order to get this right, how many prototypes and finished dummy did you have to create?
HP: Some sheets we arrived at the right combination with the first prototype, and we made minor edits and proceeded with production. Most sheets had two or three prototypes and then the final production. One sheet was a happy accident where the waste sheet of a proof was used for make-ready of a gravure operation, and we liked the look so much we changed the specification for that sheet.

PR: How did you select the board to see if it was strong enough?
HP: We selected the board based on few things – Firstly, if it had embossing a thicker, smoother board would show the embossing better. Secondly, for sheets with a fine texture varnish, a smoother surface would showcase the varnish better, and finally, for sheets which needed a more rustic/natural look, we used textured papers.

PR: The calendar is a masterclass in micro-embossing, screen printing with gold and raised UV varnish with online gloss and matt finish. What is the thing to watch out for when so many processes are involved?
HP: As indicated above, the compatibility of the different varnishes and foils, etc needs to be checked. One cannot always tell for sure as the paper surface and the combinations of effects can give such a large number of permutations. The second thing is to ensure good, uniform registration — to make sure all the processes match each other. A slight variation in the front lay or side lay in any of the operations will have a cascading effect on future operations.

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PR: What has been the feedback from friends and customers?
HP: The response from the early recipients has been good - though the distribution is still on-going!

PR: Other than the Pragati calendar, which type of calendars has impressed you?
HP: How good a calendar has to be, is judged based on what its purpose is. Some are meant to showcase a photographer’s work, some to project a product, some to communicate a brand idea/value, and there are others which are more functional like a planner, etc. I’ve also seen event calendars which do a great job of communicating the different events over a period of a week or month which do a great job of putting a lot of information in an easy to understand format.

PR: Have you begun work on the next calendar?
HP: We usually start around the end of the calendar year, as this gives the designer a couple of months. And then it allows us a couple of months to try different things in the print production.

PR: Do you think we need art education - along with print gyaan in India? Technically we have evolved a lot but some of the work is aesthetically challenged …
HP: As in any other country, I’ve seen very good work as well as mediocre work — design wise. I wouldn’t blame it on the lack of good designers if not more of a problem is the decision maker saying this is good enough. So yes, I’m all for a bit of art appreciation/aesthetics classes for the general population. The bit about seeing very good, as well as mediocre work, is true for printing too, but you are right that the technology has evolved so that the percentage of the jobs which are technically reasonable is growing higher.

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