St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Making a $10 poster

Had to make a poster for the Polk County Fair maple syrup entry -- poster of maple syruping activity.  

In the past, I printed it in pieces and then used double-sided tape to put it together.  However, wanting to take advantage of the large print posters available at many copy shops and stores, I decided to go that route.  

First, after a survey of the sizes and costs, I determined Sam's Club near the Maplewood Mall in the Twin Cities was the lowest cost at about $9.25 for a 20x30 inch color poster on nice thick glossy paper.  Walmart had the same, but at about twice the cost and you had to order it and wait a few days for delivery (and postage to home added another $8 above the $18 cost).   Sam's would not mail, so a trip to the cities would be required. 

I created a account.  Sams is a membership card organization, and I already had that, so stuck in the card info and some basic details and created the photo account. 

Read the instructions:  they want a jpg or png image file either brought in on a camera card, disk or flash drive.  If you bring it in, the poster is ready in about an hour.  Tested uploading a photo and turning it into a poster and adding it to the shopping cart--all worked OK.  Then deleted the test. 

To actually make a poster made up of several photos, some text and graphics, you need a program to do the layout that will leave you with a jpg type image.  I like to work in MS Word, so went ahead and designed a poster using the page seutp size set to 8x12 inches (the same ratio as a 20x30 print).  

  I inserted photos; inserted text boxes, inserted a wordart headline; resized, fixed the contrast and color, and drug them around until the layout was what I liked.

Of course I then saved it as a Word document.  I have Word version 2010, which allows me to save a file as a pdf document too.  In earlier versions of Word where that was not possible, I had added a free "printer' called DOPDF that when you printed to it actually made a pdf file.  

I knew there were various programs to convert pdf to jpg and found a free online one at    I selected high resolution (300dpi), uploaded my pdf and 20 seconds later was able to download the jpg to my own computer.  

I then uploaded that to Sams, went through the ordering process to set up a 20x30 and order it through the Rochester MN store and had Margo pick it up last week and bring it up north on Saturday.  It looked fine. 

So this morning I did 9 more posters which were to be available for pickup at Maplewood at noon.  Got down there and the lady looked at my paper--you ordered them through Maple Grove not Maplewood (and of course I had made this mistake, so buzzed across town and got them at Maple Grove).  Luckily I hadn't gotten mixed up more and picked some town near Bemidji!   

The posters were fine!  I got some 20x30 styrofoam panels at $1.50 or so each and a can of 3M spray glue and plan to stick them down when the humidity is lower tomorrow morning.  

Now that I have the process down, it should be easy to do more.  Biggest problem--Sam's is too far away.  Closer options start at double the price and up.  

The cost to do 10 posters including gas would be about $15 each or $150.  I figure 10 at a time to be worth the 2 hours drive in and out of the city -- unless I have other errands to run too (usually true)
  These posters are just collections of old photos with a little text.  If someone were a little artistic or creative, could make things much more lively.  Any color background, border, frame, text, and so on.  Sadly, I am not that person!
 As an afterthought, I printed the same files in 4x6 format at Walmart with the immediate 28 cent route and they are actually quite readable and nice.  Would make great postcards.