Kinkos for graphic designers.

Designers are a picky bunch. We know it, and also kind of celebrate it — that’s why our clients hire us. Kinkos does a fine job at what they do, but aren’t really set up to deal with the pickiness of clients like me. However, our studio doesn’t currently own a large-format printer, so every time I need an 11×17 presentation printed out, off to the Kinkos I go (or the Copy Max, what have you).

I learned way back when I was in college to never, ever go to the Kinkos during the day. Especially not the one that’s right downtown. Why? Because they’re busy. With more important clients than you. They have bigger, higher volume fish to fry. Your job goes in the queue, which often is 4 hours or more (even if its only 8 pages). Concerned about the color? That’s not really their deal. Last time I asked (while the sun was up), they flatly told me that it wasn’t possible.

The best time to go to Kinkos? Between midnight and 3am on a weeknight. Why? Because the guy working there is bored out of his mind. Not if you go downtown — they’re busy all night printing out the powerpoint presentations for the next morning. But the guys working at the locations in more residential areas are happy to see you — anyone — at that hour. Suddenly, magically, they can print on demand. They can even let you take a look at the color on a few pages and make adjustments before running the whole thing. If you’re nice to them, they might even give you a deal.

Don’t get me wrong — Kinkos is very good at what they’re designed to do, which is print things quickly for the business world. Designers are generally trying to squeeze a lot more out of them than that. Color laser outputs still rarely look as crisp as what comes out of an Epson, but it’s possible to get more out of the copy shop… only during the wee hours….

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