Nine years ago. That’s how long ago it was that I bought a Polaroid Zink printer. I bring up the subject now because it’s January, as I write this, and I started a new sketchbook. I only draw in ink in this particular sketchbook so I call it an inkbook. I’ve written about them before over the years and I fill one of them a year. This is inkbook number 21 and is named “Bridgework.” I randomly chose that name from the dictionary. That’s how I name all my sketchbooks.

I bring up the Zink because it prints 2×3 inch stickers. I bought it back in 2011 on a whim. I like to try out new art supplies, gadgets, and gizmos so I’m always looking at the new technology that’s coming out. The Zink doesn’t use ink to print, It has some kind of special paper that the printer applies heat to in order to make a print. Polaroid still has printers like this one but doesn’t call them Zink any more. I think this product line was a failure because I bought mine on clearance for $30. At full price it retailed for about $100.

I never really found a good use for my Zink. It’s only about the size of a deck cards so it was meant to be portable. Plus it has a battery so you can make sticker prints without it being plugged in. It also has a Bluetooth connection. I think the idea was that a person could carry this with them to a party and then make stickers from any smartphone photos that you took. People would have fun hamming it up for the sticker photos like they did with an old Polaroid instant camera.

I’m not sure if when I bought this I ever had any intention of doing that but I certainly never did. As a matter of fact I don’t even remember why I bought it. But that’s not unusual with me. Sometimes I buy something I think I can make art with and figure out exactly what I’m doing with it later. But I never quite figured out what to do with this Zink printer. I can remember back in 2013 I made my family some stickers out of family photos for Christmas presents. But they liked them as photos better than as stickers. They never got stuck anywhere. So it was better to just give them photos.

The inkbook that I just started is a Strathmore 400 Series 5.5×8.5 inch spiral bound sketchbook. It has a hundred pages in it but I never draw on the first page. That page tends to get roughed up a little so I use it as endpaper and start drawing on page two. But sometime over the years I got bored looking at a blank page one so I started to put stickers on that page. Any stickers I happened to have.

I don’t know if you can see this problem coming since, if you’re an adult, you probably haven’t thought about it but usually only children have stickers. Occasionally I’d be given stickers as part of someone’s promo push for some product but not that often. I’d throw a couple of stickers in the side tray of my art desk if I got them but mostly I didn’t get any. So January would roll around and I’d have no stickers for my new inkbook..

In glancing back at my old inkbooks I can see that it was in 2014 I started to make my own stickers for the front of the books (though for some reason my 2017 inkbook has no stickers in it). I’d use my own photos or ones found on the internet and make 2×3 inch Zink stickers out of them. So that was what I was doing today.

When I first got the Zink printer I remember having to figure out how to format an image to get it to print properly. Though the print is 2×3 inches it’s not exactly 2×3 inches. The stickers are also full bleed which means there is no border around the image. It prints edge-to-edge. So it digitally trims off a small portion all around the photo. I eventually settled on an exact 2×3 inch 300DPI jpeg that loses some of the image around the edges. It works well enough for stickers.

I remember it taking some time to figure out the bluetooth connection too. I used to print them from my desktop computer. I’d have to open my bluetooth preferences, select the printer, pair it, and then a printer queue would come up and I’d have to drop the jpeg on that. It’s not like regular printing where I pick the printer from a list and then pick the paper and format.

Now the printer won’t even work with my computer anymore. I go to pair the computer and printer and the computer refuses to. I’ve never figure out why or how to fix it. Instead I figured out how to pair it with my phone (which is not very new either). So now I have to plug my phone into my computer, drop a photo on it, connect the phone to the Zink, and hit send. It actually took a bit a doing a few years ago to figure that out but it still works.

Since I only use the Zink printer once a year I forget it exists. Like I said it’s very small so I have it stuck in a box on a shelf. It was only in December as I was cleaning up that I said to myself, “What the heck is in that box?” and looked in it. Sure enough I had forgotten it existed until that very moment.

One thing I might do with the printer is make some stickers for sticking on the streets on NYC. It was only last year, as I was taking street photos, that I noticed a lot of stickers on signposts and such as I was walking down Seventh Avenue. I started taking pictures of them. There are are lot of creative and artistic ones. Maybe I’ll add one or two myself. Or maybe not. But at least my new sketchbook is ready to go. That counts for something.