Printing Art at Kinko's or Staples


What should I ask when I go in? I’ve heard there’s a specific type of ink, paper (card stock), and finish something called Matte that I should go for alongside the weight of the paper…didn’t find a FAQ on this, so I’ll ask here.


Get laser printer paper (generic copy paper) IF you’re going to cover the artwork with a plexiglass cover… This paper is relatively light (20lb or less) and white. It also does the best job in showing off colors; other papers – especially THICKER paper – tends to absorb ink and make the image look darker.

{FYI: Regardless of what paper you choose to print on, the final image will always be darker than what’s seen on a computer monitor. Two reasons: a) the image is backlit by light on the monitor; b) regardless of paper weight/thickness, it will always absorb ink to a point and shift the colors darker. That’s why after I flatten an image prior to saving as a PDF file I always Adjust my Hue/Saturation levels +35 points in Photoshop. If you don’t do that, your printed image will be unusually dark.
{The reason why I print off PDF files is because I’ve found that the printshop computers don’t deal with JPEG’s well at all. They print them off-size – either too big or too small. As long as print to 100% is checked by the printshop clerk, I’ve found the PDF print-outs are more accurate and don’t have the resizing issues that pop up with JPEG’s.}

There’s no specific ink to use – they’ll just use a color printer to print off the image. It’s a copier that’s way better than most personal inkjets. You’d have to buy a laserjet printer (usually around at least $170-$220 for a decent model) to get anything comparable to the $2000-$3000 equipment the printers use.

IF you’re NOT going to buy a plexi to cover the artwork, you can approach the problem of preserving the art a number of ways…
You CAN use thicker cardstock but there’s a caveat – it’s harder to cut holes in, trim, and does make images look darker. It’s also more expensive than laser printer paper which I think looks better personally. The other problem with cardstock is once it gets bends and folds in it, they become very visible and are impossible to get rid of. Copy paper, on the other hand, is more pliable and doesn’t show small bends as readily as cardstock.

Without a plexi, you have to find a method to protect art regardless of what paper you print it on and here’s (AGAIN) why laser printer paper can be better.
Most people who DON’T buy a plexi get their final artwork paper laminated. The problem with lamination is that it makes the final artwork paper thicker and harder to cut… If you already printed on cardstock and laminate that, it’s at least 2-3 times more difficult to cut than laminated laser printer paper.

BUT, like anything there’s a problem with lamination… It’s difficult to cut the plastic without leaving behind at least a few air bubbles and those air bubbles are next-to-impossible to get rid of… The best long-term solution – for not leaving air bubbles on top of the art and the best protection for the art – is save money, buy a plexi, and print the artwork on copy paper.

Mounting laminated art paper to the joystick is easy. Get a mounting/adhesive spray paint from an art store. Get a spray that won’t ruin photo paper since that’s the closest equivalent to a laser copy. Spray the artwork reverse (non-print) side, line it up over the faceplate holes, and wait a day before you reinstall the parts.

One good thing about mounting spray is that as long as the art isn’t left on the faceplate for years it’s relatively easy to remove the art. You basically just pull at the corner and rip it off like a band-aid. The art comes off easily. Spray-mounting with laminated artwork works better in the end if you ever decide to swap out art… Spray-mounted art that ISN’T laminated will adhere better to the faceplate and be harder to remove.

FYI, Staples/Office Max/Office Depot will NOT print artwork that features copyrighted images or trademarked characters so you can forget about artwork that uses DC, Marvel, Disney, or Looney Tunes characters. They REFUSE to print this character art because of their fear of lawsuit from the copyright holders. The copyright holders send their lawyers after anyone that prints/licenses/makes money on the side with their IP’s. If they don’t protect their IP’s, the copyright (and the ability of corporations to make money off images/ideas attached to them) to these characters will get lost.
These print shops will only print original character art or generic console (control panels like an aircraft or truck, car, boat, etc.) art.

Kinko’s is pretty much the last place that will print that kind of art no questions asked… but for how much longer is a good question. Long-term solution is buying your own laserjet printer, getting your own computer and image creation/editing software, and foregoing Kinko’s. Then you don’t have to worry about being told “No.”


Man, that’s not even true anymore; at least, not in my area. It varies shop-to-shop, but as I understand it, their corporate policy is to require a waiver stating that you have rights to print it. I’ve never been flat-out denied, but I could see them doing so to a kid (who can’t really enter into a legally-binding agreement via contract signature, so they can’t really pass the liability to the customer in that situation). It sucks, but all you can do is try.


One thing about copyright, though.

I’ve learned from personal experience that if you just go to the print-it-yourself machine and do your thing, the people at the front desk won’t bother you about whether or not you’re printing copyrighted images. It’s an unspoken don’t ask, don’t tell kind of situation.

Again, this is just from my experience. It may be different where you are.


Kinkos = do it yourself prints, they don’t even know what you print until after its already been done and paid for. I’ve printed dozens of artwork prints from Kinkos, online, in person, and using the machines. Never have they ever bothered to notice the copywriten material.

you can even do it online and have it shipped to you.


This is what i did when i printed my art for my SE sticks. I printed and Laminated my pieces without the employees ever asking if it was my art or not. Just go in, ask for the paper you need for your print and you wont ever get hassled.

This was my results:


You never know… If Kinko’s/FedEx gets enough hassling from larger corporations, they will cave in just like Staples/OfficeMax/Office Depot all did.

It’s a very big deal to the corporations.
I don’t agree with them so long as the artwork is used for sole purpose/sole person’s ends and it’s not being sold as an original work.
At the very least, the corporations should be seeing this as free publicity/advertising for a product but that concept doesn’t fit the mentality of copyright/IP lawyers. To them, it’s about micro-managing and controlling things down to the last dotted “i’s” and crossed “t’s”.

Also, the money issue is very real with the success of movies and already existing merchandizing. It’s sad but true that most of the companies I named make far more money off of selling T-shirts and other goods featuring imagery of their characters than they do selling books and DVDs that feature those same characters.

You can say the need to for absolute copyright protection is crazy but people have been successfully sued for far less.
There are far too many times that people on the Net just don’t use any common use and provide a reason for lawsuits.


This sounds intimidating, I might just send NiteWalker the files and have him print my work.