Hi, I am Robert Heston. Working in the printing and publishing business, I started using desktop computers as soon as they came out. Apple computers were a standard in the graphics business. I have been a graphic designer, desktop publisher, prepress specialist, and prepress department manager. My employment was usually in a commercial printing company and I worked freelance. As a prepress department manager, I enjoyed the challenge of a fast paced, high stress, busy printing company. I would work with everyone in the company and the clients.
Customers would come in with their digital files and more often than not, they will have created them on a Windows PC. Eventually, I had a PC sitting next to the Macs on my desk. For quite a while that situation created a lot of compatibility issues. My final output needed to come from a Mac. Many of my customers came to me because they had been turned away by other printing companies. Those companies did not like files created in “Print Shop Pro” or “Microsoft Publisher” or the one fellow who wanted to bring his letterhead, business card, and brochure as CAD files. I would tell them to bring their application installers. If there was not a common file format, there was always a common denominator, Postscript. Print to file as Postscript, convert to PDF with Adobe Acrobat Distiller, and edit with Adobe Illustrator. Convert the text to paths. Adobe created Postscript. Fix the colors if needed and output from a Mac.
The printing business has changed drastically. Many of the small to midsized companies have bit the dust or are just hanging by a thread. The last related company I worked for, Cox Target Media, is a very large company and they had devalued the computer graphics artist and prepress specialist and barely, if at all, paid a living wage. About 50% of our country has been relegated to such. Until I entered school, I had been making significantly more setting up and operating equipment in a machine shop. When I was eventually laid off from that, I needed a solution. There were no openings in the printing business around my area or anywhere near that I could find. Enter Forsyth Technical Community College.
Early on with my career in graphics, some of my best learning experiences have come while learning on the job from experienced professionals who were willing to share their knowledge. Forsyth Tech has enabled me to gain some basic skills but there is no end to what can be learned. This is why if I were to go to work for someone as a beginning Web Developer I would like to find a position with a company that will be supportive with an entry level employee. In the meantime, I will continue to advance my knowledge and skills. As it was with graphics, once I get the basics, I can also learn on my own.
Now that I have a degree and before I go to work for someone else, I will try working as a Freelance Web Developer. I have worked for others all of my life for the most part. Perhaps now can be a good time to get rid of the middleman. As my resume shows, I can do both at the same time. Not only can I design websites, but I can still be a Graphic Designer and Desktop Publisher. All those years of experience working as a professional in graphics and publishing give me an advantage over many other Web Developers. I now have the abilities to do all the graphics, publishing, and web design for any company or individual. My experience in the printing and related business gives me the added ability to manage all of a client's printing, publishing, advertising, signage, specialty graphics, and screen printing.