Printing on a Student Budget

When you’re a struggling design student nothing gives you more grief than printing assessments. You’re already facing $60k in loans just for being there (cheers Billy Blue) and now you have to spend your hard earned drinking dollars on more university supplies. I’ve been there, done that, couldn’t afford the t-shirt.

About half way through my degree an epidemic spread—buying your own A3 printer became all the rage and boy was I glad I joined the party—admittedly, the super nerdy, designer party. When you have around 12–20 projects a semester, the printing price tags all start to add up, not to mention the turn around time and likelihood of a printer going that extra mile for your one-off student project. Although it’s an upfront cost, it saved me so much money, time and tears in the long run, so I highly recommend the investment.

The model I bought was an Epson Stylus Office T1100 and it broke my heart selling it before moving overseas. It retailed around $300 at the time (I bought it from Officeworks) but I’m sure there are even fancier versions available now. I printed all kinds of things with it and thought I’d include some old college projects that I made using it.

Finding nice paper stock can be another mission, because once again you aren’t looking to print 250 business cards, you might only need 5. It’s amazing what can happen when you ask nicely for something, and although there’s no guarantee, you can always call the paper companies and see if they will send you a few sheets to test out. Alternatively, I used to buy a lot of Canson card and other brands from Eckersley’s which did the job most of the time.

Think thrifty and you can actually create high quality printed pieces for your student assessments. I personally couldn’t justify paying for professional printing and I think it’s unfair if lecturers expect. Luckily you can achieve HD level work printing from your bedroom floor, or I never would have graduated!