The term "Starving Artist" was one that I heard and knew, but never really understood; that is, until I became a graphic design major. The reason is not because supplies are costly, or because we use professional technology for our projects. The reason why the designers working hard in the NFAC live off of popcorn and ramen is because of the dreaded, outrageous, through-the-roof, awful, insane, and most of all, extremely overpriced printing charges put into effect by Information Technology.
$149.21 is my current printing balance. That’s right. It’s week seven into the semester. That’s one-fourth of my academic year and design projects. At this rate, I will have approximately a $600 printing charge between two consecutive semesters. Starving designer? Now you see why.
Now, hear me out, I understand that printers are expensive. A banner printer runs aywhere between $2,000 and $4,000. Ink is expensive. Prices for printing are posted throughout each University lab and are made very clear by I.T. I take advantage of the ability to return mistakes and get my credits back, and I also am very careful to print only what I need.
The thing is, as graphic design majors, 99.99% of our projects are print-based. In other words, my homework is made on a computer and eventually printed out onto paper. For example, some projects are books and some are posters. This poses a problem for my wallet.
It doesn’t quite seem right that we as design students are required to pay tuition, then a special class fee, and then on top of all of that ultimately pay at least $600 a year for our homework to be turned in. Not to mention, a majority of the time we also buy our own paper to print on. A larger print on a banner printer typically is around $3-$6. So theoretically if we use our own paper, which costs probably about $5, we are paying up to $11 total for one print. If you look at it that way, the small amount of ink that is used (charged by I.T.) can be double the cost of the paper. Not to mention, if a job is sent to the printer and doesn’t print or if you cancel it at the printer, you still get charged. Every time you hit print, you get charged.
Here’s a question: do chemistry majors have to pay $600 a year for their test tubes on top of tuition and extra class fees? Do education majors have to pay $600 a year to turn their homework in? Obviously not.
I suppose you’re wondering what I suggest I.T. do differently. The answer is, I’m not sure. Obviously I, along with all the other designers (approximately 175 students, over 50% of the art department) would absolutely love it if our printing charges were nonexistent, or even just decreased. We pay a ton already with tuition and art supplies and class fees. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen any time soon. Looks like it’s ramen for dinner tonight.
As an alternative, though, I recently decided to start avoiding University printers as much as possible. Instead, I can take my projects to Digicopy, UPS, Staples or Printing and Design and pay a fraction of the price to print the same exact thing; usually even in higher quality. Literally everywhere else is cheaper than the University. Just last week I printed 4 pages worth of colored projects at Digicopy for the price of 1 through I.T. That’s huge.
It’s unsettling being a student at a University and feeling ripped off. I am disappointed in the way that I.T. has made printing more expensive than literally everywhere else in the area. If you haven’t checked your printing charges recently, do it. You can see them under your finances tab on your MyPoint page.