A Dummy’s Guide to Dummies

A Dummy’s Guide to Dummies. 

As part of our investigations where we seek to unwrap the world of paper, our undercover reporter set foot into the secret world of dummy-making, to find out how your magazines and catalogues grow from concept to creation.

We discovered Emma Bates, Gould's Junior Account Handler and Master Dummy-Maker, hard at work in the lab. She talked us through the processes.

 Hi Emma, first off, please can you explain what the dummy is, and why it's so important for clients?

A Dummy is a plain paper mock-up made up at the beginning of a print project.

The importance of the Dummy is for customers to be able to evaluate the weight, texture, size and binding of what their finished printed product will look like. It allows for changes to be made early on so there are no hidden surprises along the way. Being able to feel a physical product can really help bring to life an initial concept.

Why is paper choice fundamental to portraying the correct business message?

Paper choice is important as it’s a great piece of advertising for companies to interest their customers in their brand/product and to create a future relationship. Market trends change but currently Silk is popular as it is bulkier than a Gloss finish allowing the gsm (grammage) to be reduced but the bulk kept. The cost of the weight has to be factored in if magazines are mailed out, which is why making the dummies at the beginning is so important in the decision-making process.

How long does each dummy take, and how many edits is typical for a new client?

Each dummy varies but perfect bound - where the pages are cut and glued into the spine - generally take longer than saddle stitched - where the pages are folded and then stapled in place.

I hadn’t realised quite how many knives and guillotines were involved until I started showing people around the dummy room and saw the slight apprehension on their faces! I use these for slicing up the sheets if they are too large to fit into the guillotine as well as for trimming glue and edges on covers larger than 4pp. I use the guillotine to cut the final size and get a clean finish on the dummy.

Every project is different but for new clients a few copies may be ordered as they will have already reviewed paper samples and may want to look over a few options. From there more dummies may be ordered.

How did you find your way into the paper industry and what is it that drew you to the dummy-making process in particular?

I entered the world of paper by chance through a recruiter and have been with Gould for just over a year. Coming from a fashion and textiles background, the dummy side of my role appealed to me as I am able to be creative (to a degree) and work with the paper directly. This has helped me learn ‘tonnes’ (brilliant –ed) about the weight and texture and I can often visualise what the dummies will look like before I’ve made them.

The lab work is just part of your job. What else does your role involve and what does a typical working day look like?

I work alongside the internal team looking after a few customer accounts where I am responsible for ordering and booking in paper when needed, sending reports and updating changes made to titles.

I entertain the team throughout the day with my witty comments and interesting facial expressions that I pull on a regular basis. You need a thick skin and a sense of humour to work here as well as commitment to the job which I can honestly say we all have! The team has a wealth of knowledge that I am keen to learn from and I thoroughly enjoy my work at Gould.