Why Would I Need Good Artwork?

  • Mar 5, 2020

By Nancy Gudekunst


Artwork used for promotional products can make the difference between a successful or disastrous result.  Starting with the art is a good way to begin any swag campaign. Helping you sort through the various artwork issues that can affect the outcome of your branded merchandise, MARCO Ideas Unlimited is here to answer your questions.

So, why do I need good artwork?

After barely meeting the deadline for your event, your coffee mugs arrive and unfortunately, the imprint is fuzzy! While you have uploaded a perfectly good .jpg file that looks beautiful online:

The image was not pristine at any size.  In other words, it will need sharp lines and clear definition:

Because your recipient will subconsciously equate the quality of the branded item with the quality of your company's products or services, you will want to ensure the highest imprint quality possible!

What is good artwork?

For three-dimensional reproduction purposes, vector-based artwork is the best type of artwork. Vector artwork is created with mathematical formulas, therefore it can easily be enlarged or reduced without loss of integrity. In other words, it is resizable and will not pixelate. Vector art has the suffix of .ai, .eps, or sometimes .pdf.

Vector artwork is also, useful to keep on file for any printing need.  Companies typically have a “Graphics Standards Document”, “Brand Guidelines”, or a “Style Guide” for all details surrounding their brand logo(s).  Care needs to be taken for the stability of the artwork files, so the brand identity remains strong with consistent application. It is also, important to keep original artwork files safe from unauthorized revisions.

Generally, we advise not using .jpg files, but there is one notable exception as it is the most common way to save a photograph. Considered a “raster” file, some full-color imprinting processes need these types of images.  The resolution must be high, and the artwork must be submitted at the size of the final imprint. Sometimes it can even be possible to make embroidery digitizing from some .jpg files, although, if you're unsure, ask us. Related file types include .psd, .tif, and .png. 

Artwork Color Considerations

Artwork color is just as important as the swag it is going on. A digital photograph (.jpg) will be in RGB (Red, Green, Blue), therefore it will need to be converted to CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black - full color) to ensure compatibility with a printing press.  Pantone colors correlate a number to every color, which allows consistency among printers and decorators. Embroidery thread colors can be difficult to compare to Pantone colors, which most often must be carefully matched by hand. A specialist can help with this match!

MARCO Ideas Unlimited considers how your logo artwork will interact with the product. This becomes an open discussion about how the color, shape, and texture of the product itself affects the look of your logo. The recipient wants to feel appreciation, joy, and confidence. Of course, we want the same for your clients! 

Swag Decoration Techniques

Below is an overview of various types of product decoration (imprinting), and what types of surfaces they may be used on:

Decoration Technique                    Types of Products Used On

Embroidery*                                     Textiles

Applique*                                          Textiles

Heat Transfers                                 Textiles

Dye Sublimation                              Textiles

Debossing/Embossing*                 Textiles

Screen Printing                                Textiles, Hard Surfaces

Glitter/Bling Appliques                 Textiles, Hard Surfaces

Laser Engraving*                            Hard Surfaces, Textiles

Etching (Acid, Sand)                      Hard Surfaces

Foil Stamping                                  Hard Surfaces

Pad Printing                                     Hard Surfaces

Lucite Embedment                         Inside Acrylic

Textiles include Apparel, Bags, and Blankets

Hard Surfaces include Glass, Marble, Metals, Plastics, Wood

* More eco-friendly imprinting methods

We've got your back!

In conclusion, the best graphic artists understand how the final design will affect logo usability. While there can be extra difficulty in replicating certain surfaces when a halftone or shadowing effect is incorporated into your design, we've got you covered.

Above all, an experienced promotional consultant can help you save hours of time with the knowledge of different imprinting methods and artwork considerations. MARCO Ideas Unlimited is here to ensure your logo is represented in the best possible manner. 


Since the mid-90's, Nancy Gudekunst, MAS, has been the 2nd generation owner of MARCO Ideas Unlimited, an Oregon family business founded in 1959. Nancy's years of experience help cut through the clutter of swag options with creative ideas that achieve goals. Certified as a WBE and DBE.

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