My Puzzle Story, Part 2: Ridiculous Luck - OddGoods

My Puzzle Story, Part 2: Ridiculous Luck

My Puzzle Story, Part 2: Ridiculous Luck

My first sample had arrived and within minutes, I had the box unwrapped, open, and spilled the pieces onto my table to begin putting it together. I rolled every piece between my fingers and marveled at how much better the quality was than my first batch of puzzles. I had the frame of the puzzle together in no time.

This is where the story gets interesting ... 

36 hours later, I was satisfied enough that I approved the sample and gave the go-ahead to begin mass production.

Four days passed and it was the day after Christmas 2020. I was on my way to bed when I sat down at my puzzle table and started working on the puzzle. It was midnight. Five hours later, I was still working, obsessed with finding a specific eyeball and picked up a piece that didn’t seem to fit anywhere in the puzzle. I drew these lines. I knew every line, yet this looked off somehow. After a couple minutes of searching the puzzle, I got up, stepped to over to my flat file and dug out my lupe magnifier to take a closer look at the line art on this particular puzzle piece. “Huh,” I said aloud, “this doesn’t look right.” Another hour went by and I suddenly grabbed the puzzle piece and climbed the stairs to my studio to look at the original art file. No sooner had I gotten the file open, when my heart stopped. There WAS a major error in the file that was used to produce the sample puzzle. The outline to one of the animals had been deleted! … and it was my fault. Twenty-five years as a designer and countless files sent to printers on behalf of my clients and my personal work and I’ve never made a mistake. Not one. And then this on the most important project of my career, the one that would make or break me.

I fired off an email to my supplier hoping that my project hadn’t gone to press in the five days since I’d approved it. I received a message back within an hour. And then another fifteen very long minutes later. My project had just gone to press. It was pulled just in time.

Holy. Shit.

I corrected the error then spent hours going over every file with a fine toothed comb. "If I’d made this big of an error", I thought … Sure enough, I found another error on another puzzle. I was physically shaking by this point. Three more rounds of minor changes later and numerous days of work, I’d corrected the last error down to the most minuscule aberration I could find.

With the project newly approved for mass production, I reflected on how cosmically, unbelievably lucky I had just been. So many things had to fall into place for me to catch the initial mistake that it still boggles my mind …

  1. I considered briefly not having a sample produced. My images are black and white. In most instances, press checks are really only necessary to check color variation. I had a sample made anyway to check the print quality of the line art.
  2. After receiving the sample, I decided on a whim, after testing a handful of pieces for cut tolerance, to put the rest of the puzzle together. 
  3. The day after Christmas, I was heading to bed at 12am and stopped to “find a couple pieces” I’d been having a tough time locating. 
  4. Five hours later I was still working on the puzzle when I reached for an eyeball piece that I couldn’t find in the artwork because I noticed something odd about the art.
  5. I checked the piece with a magnifier loop then, an hour later, decided to open the master file to have a look. 
  6. A client project had been inexplicably delayed a week and a half. If not for this delay, I would have never started putting the puzzle together. 
  7. I decided to wait to start my ski season until after the new year to avoid holiday crowds and covid. If not for this, I would not have had time to put the puzzle together. 

If any one of these things had not happened, I would have received the final shipment, sold puzzles, and my customers would have been the ones to find the flawed artwork. I shudder to think about the implications of that horror.

Just so you understand what started this revelation … That “weird” eyeball puzzle piece I found … The line that was out of place was 1/8 of an inch long! Sometimes having a keen eye for intricate detail is a good thing.

After all is said and done, the error was a good thing. It caused me to take a closer look at all the art files and in so doing I found numerous other very minor tweaks and some errors that needed to be corrected. I am, however, not pleased that I am now the record holder with my supplier for the “most changes requested for a single order”. Oh well, there are worse things for which to be infamous.

My first puzzle-nerd-worthy collection finally hit the shelves in March of 2021 and brought terror to the puzzle community. 

Check out Animals, Aquatic, Big Cats, and Birds. You won't find a more satisfying challenge anywhere else in the puzzleverse.

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