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Who knew printing portfolios could be so misadventurist?
by Katy Purviance on 01/03/08 @ 09:38:37 pm
Categories: Observations, Applying to Grad School, Grad School | 656 words | 8310 views

I have finished my year-long grad prep program at the Los Angeles Institute of Architecture & Design.

I spent most of the second semester putting together my portfolio for my grad school applications. By “putting together” I mean not just the photographing, scanning, and photoshopping, but also the nightmare of trying to figure out the best (=(cheapest)/(highest quality) way to get it printed. At 49 cents per color copy (and that’s on sale), Kinko’s was out. Besides, ever since FedEx bought them out, going to Kinko’s never fails to be an exercise in frustration. Pretty much every other local place charged just as much. But I not only wanted it printed, I also wanted it perfect bound, which a lot of local places can’t even do, and the ones that can do it charge far too much.

So I looked at some web-based publishers and was pretty in love with until it took me 3 days of babysitting my computer (that’s one weekend and one sick day from work) to keep my ftp connection “alive” in order to upload my file. (The program’s “keep alive” function is nefariously mis-named.) Once my file had finally uploaded, it looked like total pixelated crap in their preview window. I chatted with one of their live help people, who said it looked fine on her side.


So I bought an Deskjet D4260 printer. I think I’m the last person in America to finally buy a printer.

My printer is possessed. It’s an HP. It does funny tricks. One funny thing that it does is it will just decide to stop halfway through the print job. Just stop. No reason. The light will keep blinking (or maybe it won’t!). Perhaps several hours will go by. Blink blink blink. Then it will just up and decide to start the print job over. I was manually duplexing my pages. This meant that my possessed printer would print page one on the back of, oh, say page 32. I might have foolishly decided to go to bed while the printer was thinking about printing, which means I would rise from four hours of sleep, rushing to get to work on time, only to discover that its trickster ways have foiled me once again.

Other times it would keep on printing without any warning after it had run out of, say, cyan. Other times it would tell me that I was out of ink when I wasn’t. By the way, it took about more than one color cartridge (the “XL” size) per portfolio. After exhausting my first cartridge (my first XL cartridge, not the little half-full one that comes with the printer), I nearly popped a vein on my forehead. At over $30 a pop, this was going to be far, far more expensive than I had anticipated when I decided to print my portfolios myself.

So I went back online and started learning about refill kits. Did they really work? Were these quality inks? And why do all of these review sites read like self-blatant promotion rather than the hard-hitting journalism I miss so much from network TV? It was hard to tell who to trust, so I turned to ebay where I could decipher trustability from their customer rating system. I bought this refill kit and it arrived just a couple of days later.

This Fuller Ink Jet person was the one shining light of good fortune in this entire endeavor. Complete instructions? Syringes? Copious amounts of ink? Saving me HUNDREDS of dollars? All for 22 bucks??? I must have refilled my cartridge about eight times, and I still have SO MUCH ink left over. This guy (or lady) selling these kits is a saint.

So after days and days of dealing with my possessed printer, my dinosaur laptop (circa 2003), I finally got five portfolios printed out and perfect bound them myself in about five minutes per. They are in the mail. At last.

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Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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