I started out in Print Production, so printing has always been near and dear to my heart.
The tactile feeling of paper, the visually cool effects of die cutting and embossing, the layering of ink on a page; all these things are extremely interesting to me. And should be, as well, to you.
Designers have a responsibility to know slightly more than the average joe about printing and how their ideas will execute on a piece of paper. It is not enough to leave that knowledge up to the print producers in your agency. As an art director or designer, you have a big hand in how well projects come out on press.
Make sure you are soaking up as much knowledge about paper and ink as you can. You can do this by asking a bazillion questions of your print producers and print vendors. Every job you are working on and every press check you are going on is an opportunity to learn more.
A couple questions to ask yourself to determine how much you do (on don't) now about printing:
How does printing on uncoated vs. coated paper affect printability?
What is a blueline proof and what are you OK'ing when you sign it?
What's the difference between conventional dot and stochastic dot printing?
What is 4-color process? How do spot colors translate into process?
What is trapping and how does it affect type and images when it is done incorrectly?
How does the direction of the print sheet affect your ability to correct color on press?
Folks, I could go on with a list of 100 questions. But, I'd be very proud if you knew at least the above answers as a junior designer.
Smart and print savvy juniors grow up into smarter and print savvier seniors. Do yourself a favor and learn, learn, learn as much as you can about print and paper. It will serve you well over your career.