I'd like to start doing design work but I always get caught up on this question...

If I design something for a client, am I also required to handle the print work?

3 Answers 3


Required?.... no.

Can you?.... if you want to.

You can either subcontract printing services and then mark up the costs and pass them on to your clients. This makes you responsible for paying all printing costs regardless of whether your client pays you or not. You can offset the risk by requiring deposits on printing services. This means you can profit a bit though pricing markups.

Or, you can merely deliver press-ready files and let the client find a print provider and handle all reproduction. This removes any risk of you carrying costs, but may forgo some revenue from marking up the printing fees.

Both business models work.


There's no general rule saying you should or should not include a printing service.

However, i'd say most independent designers will not deliver prints for clients. They can sometimes recommend a specific print provider, but rarely get involved in the actual printing process.

That's mainly because a designer's job is usually to deliver that print-ready PDF, which is generally acceptable with most printers. Also a designer cannot guarantee for the quality of the print, binding, shipping and so on without actually being there in the print shop.

That's why all this process is usually handled separately by the print shop and at best, designers will partner with a print shop to recommend each other, but as separate services.

This also depends on the clients' location. For instance, if you work globally which is very common nowadays you can have clients all over the world, which makes things a bit tricky and can increase time and costs for delivery, as paper can get quite heavy and takes time and money to move it from printer to client. In such cases a client will prefer to print locally to get the quickest delivery and not pay for international shipping.

Design agencies however are more likely to get involved in the printing process, especially for larger clients who don't have the resources to manage marketing internally or prefer to outsource this entire process.


Ask your client how they'd like to proceed: You can hand art (PDF, usually) either directly to client or directly to printer. Or you can suggest that you coordinate the printing on your client's behalf, either for a fixed fee or an agreed hourly rate. A written agreement should better define the services offered, such as securing competitive quotations, adjusting artwork to better fit the technology of the printer, providing quantity and specifications to the printer, etc. Your value here is that you are a print buying professional and can be the bridge between the client and printer. The printing company rep will be doing the same, and this can be very good as you, your client, and the printer are all on-board with the plan. I agree with prior post that you can markup print costs IF you are willing to foot them in the first place. Many independent designers don't do this for cash flow-purposes, and instead have the client and press enter their own direct agreement.

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