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Unforgettable Art Supply Moments
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 18 - Lou Bortone

posted: August 6, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.
Lou Bortone in 1958, his first year at WBZ-TV.
 
Emmy Award-winning Executive AD Lou Bortone’s 37-year career at Boston’s WBZ-TV began in 1958 as an assistant in what was then the station’s one-man department. “When I was in my senior year at Massachusetts College of Art,” they offered me one night’s work posting on-air election returns,” says Lou. That turned into a full-time job working 3-11 pm, which allowed him to finish college. His responsibilities grew over the years along with the burgeoning TV industry.
“I was offered promotions to higher positions twice, but turned them both down, mainly because I didn't want to leave the Boston area and because I loved being involved with the actual art,” he adds. “We worked in three areas: print for audience and sales promotion; video (of course); and set design. It was exciting, and there was never really a dull moment.”
 
As cable crept in and much less local programming was done, the art department was reduced to mostly doing news graphics. “Boring!” laughs Lou. He happily retired at 63. WBZ was originally owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting, then sold to CBS, and is now owned by Viacom. 
 
1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?
 
By the time 1976 rolled around, a good many of us had switched to waxers for mechanical paste-ups, rather than the more unforgiving rubber cement. I was president of the Art Directors Club of Boston then, and gave myself the job of laboriously assembling a same-size paste-up of the Club’s lobster dinner poster announcement onto a 30” x 40” sheet of Foamcore. It was a cold December day, and two blocks from the local silk screen house, a strong winter wind did its best to grab the mechanical from my hands. I struggled and sort of regained control, but not before the countless waxed pieces of type (as well as a giant lobster photo in many parts) went swirling down the street on their own. Miraculously, the pieces ended up wedged under a large dumpster, and I was lucky enough to rescue every piece. The print house owner and I managed to reassemble it on a large table with the help of hours of Scotch tape. I used up my entire month’s supply of swear words in one day!
 
2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?
 
Besides the waxer, I quickly grew to despise spray glue (although it may have made my life easier on the lobster poster).
 
3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?
 
It’s difficult to pick out just one! I had a special drawing board made for me by my local art dealer. It had a metal border along one side, which facilitated the use of a cam-lok T-square. A simple twist, and the T-square was locked in place. It was especially handy for mechanical drawings of set designs for the scenic builders.
 
Other favorites would be a Kensol hot press as well as a Polaroid 46-L transparency film and copy stand set up for on-air art. We could make black and white slides pretty fast. Most missed, though, would have to be a Bolex single-frame movie camera we rigged up for limited animations. We mounted it on the Polaroid copy stand, and away we went! It was so successful, that I was able to convince the station to buy us an Oxberry 16mm animation stand and camera.
The Oxberry stand.
4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?
 
I haven’t tossed anything that I wish I still had.
 
5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?
 
We bought and soon threw away that little useless blade sharpener gizmo that X-acto came up with. I notice that others here have felt the same way about it.
 
It amazes me today to look back on all the tools and supplies we were lucky enough to have at hand. I felt very bad for some of our suppliers — after the Mac, customers just stopped using their services. Typesetting seemed to get hit the hardest.
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 17 - Glen Mullaly

posted: June 13, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.

Illustrator Glen Mullaly claims he was born with a pencil in his hand. “After four unsuccessful attempts, doctors managed to transplant it to just above my right ear”, he adds. Now he draws “neato” pictures for kids of all ages from his  “swanky” studio on the west coast of Canada. Straddling the old-school era (first paid job at age 14 in 1982 was a spot illo of a superhero for a used-car-lot newspaper ad) and digital era (current jobs include a children’s animated e-book for Oxford University Press) has not only given him the advantage of a solid mechanical foundation that he uses in his digital work, but also Spray Mount lungs and xylene-addled brain cells. Find out more at www.glenmullaly.com.

1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

Since attempts at cutting Rubylith in high heat and blood-spurting X-Acto blade injuries have been covered, I'll mention the horrors of Zip-a-Tone/Letratone cutting (the adhesive type, not the rub-on variety). I was always trying to make each expensive sheet last (if I remember correctly, they were close to $20 each by the time I stopped using them in the mid-to-late 1990s!) by using EVERY POSSIBLE SQUARE INCH OF THE DARNED THING! Of course, that meant filling the necessary areas with many smaller sections cut and fit together jigsaw puzzle-like. Apparently I had more time than brains as it always made the job go much longer than needed. And as the years have passed since every one of those beloved black and white illustrations is now covered with an aged layer of shrunken Letratone with wide channels where the spliced sheets have pulled apart from each other. And I won't even go into running out of the percentage screen of Letratone I needed mid-job late at night after the stores had closed, with a deadline looming first thing the next morning. Yep, pull out the Rapidograph or Pigma pen -- it's time for hand-drawn tone dots! Ah, the good old days…

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

As mentioned by plenty o' other folks, the clear winner in the loser department is 3M's Spray Mount. I still have a can of "black death," and pull it out once a year or so for a job. But no more spraying at my drafting table and coating everything within an eight-foot diameter. Now, it's out in the garage with the doors, open, fans going, and a mask. And it's still horrible. I can still feel my arm hairs coated in the stuff. Excuse me while I go and wash up…

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

I miss the old formulation that Pelican used for it's graphic white. I'm sure it was chock full of leady goodness, but it flowed, covered and flexed so much better than the current concoction. I have a penchant for attempting to customize my art supplies and tools, such as my fleet of heavily customized Sanford Pro-Touch II mechanical pencils I've used to draw everything in the last 15 years. Or my Japanese Zebra neoprene inking brushes, cheap and direct from Hong Kong (I swap out the blotchy water-and-dye-based ink for ammonia-based Pigma pen ink that stands up to smudges and graphic white so much better). I've even tried to add a few secret ingredients to the new Pelican stuff -- but it's just not the same. On the other hand I've probably added a few years to my life without the lead. I guess it's worth it. Maybe.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

I tend to hang on to those usually expensive tools and supplies, but every once in a while I stumble upon a new technique that requires a tool that I’ve got rid of, not thinking I'd ever need it. The problem seems to crop up as inevitably as the changing of the seasons, or the raising of the prices at my local art supply store.

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

No. I have an uncanny ability to purchase only the exact amount of the perfect supplies needed for the job at hand. On a completely unrelated topic: if anyone happens to be in the Victoria BC area next weekend I'm having a giant art supply garage sale. Items for sale include highly inaccurate matte cutters and wavy paper trimmers; dozens of sheets of partially used Letratone; boxes of incorrectly judged hardnesses and thicknesses of mechanical pencil leads; reams of expensive and obsolete bubble jet printer paper bought during a short-lived inking experiment; $500 worth of gouache I've used exactly twice in the 10 years since bought; complete sets of almost-but-not-quite-dead Pantone and Chartpak markers; 50 (fifty I tells ya!) Mars graphic 3000 duo pens from the late 1990s that I stocked up on when they decided to change the design of the pen (only to switch to a different inking tool a year later); a compass rule for drawing REALLY BIG CIRCLES (used only once by a little old artist on his way to church; that blue flexible ruler thing that broke after three unsuccessful uses; and unfortunately much, much more.
 
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 16 - Jack Tom

posted: February 20, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.

Graphic designer/illustrator/educator Jack Tom grew up in San Francisco during the clamorous headband-and-sitar years of the ‘60s. “At that time, my ambitions had been focused on becoming a herpetologist and working in research for a museum someday,” says Jack. “That all changed when someone on the street gave me a handbill for a rock concert at the Avalon Ballroom. It changed my life forever. From that moment, I knew I wanted to draw pictures for a living.”

While working for a multimedia company, he visited New York City in 1976. The visit convinced him that in order for his career to reach its full potential, he needed to move east. The next year, he was living in New York and working at McCall’s Magazine as designer of the magazine’s “Right Now” eight-page monthly insert. A few years later, Lou Dorfsman hired him on as Senior Designer at CBS.

“At McCall’s, CBS, and later on at Business Week, I was able to work with pretty much any top illustrator that I chose,” he continues. “Most of them were in New York in those days, and they all turned out to be a tremendous influence on me. I found myself moving more and more along the same path, and soon I was a fulltime freelance illustrator/designer.”

In 1985, he eventually launched Jack Tom Design, now headquartered in Bridgeport, CT. He has served as president of the Connecticut Art Directors Club, and presently teaches Communication Design, Typography, and Illustration at Western Connecticut State University as well as at Norwalk Community College. To find out more about Jack and to see his work, visit Jack Tom Design.
The actual 1967 handbill that changed Jack Tom's life: "Van Morrison plus The Daily Flash and Hair - all at the Avalon October 20-21-22." It's been on Jack's wall ever since, as evidenced by the thumbtack hole top center.
1. Can you recall your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

Yes, or at least it was a hazardous art supply experience. When I was at McCall's, a new adhesive product came on the market: 3M Spray Mount. We were using one-coat rubber cement to paste up mechanicals and the rubber cement required drying time, but spray mount was immediate. The spraying area was in the trashcan next to my chair. Anyway, after a year, I noticed a silhouette the shape of my body on my black chair... it was created by the spray particulars from the spray mount landing around me and the rest was landing on me and, of course, I was inhaling it...OMG!

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

Yes, I hated using Pantone overlay film products...it was much more tacky and more expensive than Cello-Tak and Zip-a-tone. But Cello-Tak and Zip-a-tone colors were being slowly discontinued and getting harder to find, so I was stuck using Pantone. After going digital, I gave away my Pantone color sheets to Randy Enos. They were getting very expensive by then, so I hope my Pantone overlays came in handy for him.

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

I used to love using Rapidographs and Rotring technical pens. They were a pain to use at times (clogging and cleaning), but they made great lines. I also miss using Letraset rub-down type. I still have a few boxes of both Letraset rub-down and Formatt cut-out type and dot screen sheets.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?
I had a good set of Magic Markers and Pantone markers, over 80 colors. I had to throw them out because they eventually dried out. There are times when I'm doing a tight sketch, and I just don't feel like scanning and coloring it digitally. The markers would come in very handy.
 
5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

Chartpak came out with an X-acto blade sharpener called Quikpoint. I was at CBS at the time and someone ordered a few for the designers. We thought it was the answer to reusing the X-acto blades, but it sucked, and it never did restore an X-acto #11 to its former self. So, we just kept on buying the 100-blade bulk pack.
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 15 - Mark Matcho

posted: February 16, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.

Mark Matcho walked away from a promising career as a short-order cook to become an illustrator in 1985, and hasn't looked back since. His work appears frequently in Fortune Magazine and Reader's Digest, and infrequently in many other fine publications. To enjoy a man-size portion of the full Matcho experience, get on over to http://www.markmatcho.net.
1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

 Cutting rubylith in 108-degree heat in my un-airconditioned New York apartment. The convection oven-like conditions resulted in the rubylith softening into a substance not unlike a fruit rollup, which stubbornly refused to peel cleanly and came off in tiny bits and piece, most of which ended up right back on the sheet somehow, and mixed with my flopsweat and tears, made for a sodden, gooey mess. Good times!

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

 I was never that wild about Spray Mount. I usually got more of it on the floor, on the backing board and in my lungs than on whatever it was I was trying to spray it on.

 Not even gonna mention the dreaded matte cutter, and the epic tragedies associated with my use of that device.

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

 I kinda miss rubber cement -- that intoxicating icy whiff of petroleum by-product that was almost certainly very bad for you; and the way you could roll up the dried excess into little balls and flick them at the unsuspecting; or the way the brush in the cap solidified into a solid unusable mass. I guess it's still around, but I've moved on. Never seemed to actually work all that well as an adhesive, but boy, it smelled great.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

 I used to have one of those poseable wooden mannequins, with the teardrop-shaped head and the half-sphere hands. I'd had it since I was a kid, and ended up giving it away, or throwing it out or something after acquiring a program called Poser, which turned out to be kind of a bust. I guess I could always just buy another one, but as they say: there's nothing like your first poseable wooden mannequin.

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

 Every coupla years or so I end up buying a set of Rapidograph pens that I have high hopes for. I don't actually use them, or even get around to taking the shrink-wrap off the box. They just sit there on my drafting table for a few months, until they eventually migrate to my storage closet to join the other sets of unopened, unused Rapidograph pens.
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 14 - Nancy Stahl

posted: February 11, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.
In her own words, legendary illustrator Nancy Stahl “has been at this illustration thing a very long time.” To delight in the beauty of it all, breeze on over to www.nancystahl.com.

1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

Well, of course there are the blade mishaps, like the one in my freshman year at college, first assignment. Having been raised in a family whose motto was Frugality Uber Alles, I decided there was no need to buy any fancy art supplies, a double-edged razor blade that I already owned would work as well as a single one. Or the time I was cutting mats with a friend and he ran out of the room interrupting a highly amusing story from me. When I sauntered into the kitchen, he calmly asked if I would look on the living room floor for his thumb. It was a good-sized chunk that they reattached.

Then there were the chemical risks that we took. My dinner plates were used as palettes when I was so busy that I ran out of the real thing. The warning label on Bestine was thought of in the same good-natured benign way as the text on a Dr. Bronner's Soap bottle. So, we had fun creating "goobers" by applying rubber cement to the palms of both hands and rubbing them together until our very own rubber cement pickup was created.

But for me, the frustration of material supplies not performing the way they were meant to under deadline was the most exasperating. In the case of gouache, the migratory color that would keep surfacing when a lighter color was put over a dark one to the point of becoming a horror movie classic is a fond memory that was finally put to rest with the use of the computer. And once drum scanning became the norm, my poor gouache paintings could not stand up to such ill treatment. Thickly applied gouache is such a delicate little scab of a thing. I did a cover for a major magazine and waited three long months to see it in print, only to discover that the faces of all my little Titanic survivors had fallen off somewhere mid-Atlantic or mid-scan. Now that's sad.

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

I'd say the Rapidograph. If I had been better at cleaning the darn things, maybe I wouldn't have thrown so many at my wall like they were darts.

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

Gouache is still available, so it doesn't really qualify, but I did love the smell of the stuff when it was wet and that first dip of a loaded brush into a clean fishbowl of water, the way it would twist and swirl like beautiful upside-down colored smoke.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

The only thing I threw away when I converted to digital was my Lucy. And I don't regret that one bit. Crank, crank, crank...

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

Not so much with art supplies as with software. I came across the box for Expressions last week. Eight floppies that were a flop.
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 13 - Linda McCulloch

posted: February 10, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.

Graphic artist and illustrator Linda McCulloch felt that Florida’s Ringling School of Art had well-prepared her for the freelance life. But not long after her career began, she found herself as intimidated as the rest of us by the need to cross over into the new computer age. “The way the computer affected me the most was to make me aware that I might forget how to draw -- something I love to do,” says Linda. She and her husband counterbalanced their new digital life by taking figure drawing at various art retreats, something she found to be a lifesaver. Today, they both run a biweekly figure drawing atelier in Atlanta. “It’s amazing how important it is to me to still be able to turn out a decent drawing of a human figure. It’s the basis for so much of the concept work I do for clients where I often have to create stuff from scratch.”

She operates her company, Design That Works out of Tucker, GA, and her clients have included, among others, Nissan, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, and IBM. She’s currently developing a line of art “about cats and the things they would say if they wanted to speak English.” To see Linda’s art and read more about her, go to www.designthatworks.com.
1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

My second job out of art school consisted of pasting up hideous cluttered newspaper ads and inserts for a very well known DIY big-box store. It required cutting out lots of stats, and spray-mounting them to illustration board. There were only three of us, and my boss was very frugal… no, wait, make that DIRT-CHEAP! Part of my job involved cutting stat paper with straight razor blades into tiny strips in the stat camera dark room. No paper cutter. No X-acto knife. Plain old razor blades.

One day we had a rush on, and our salesman was outside the stat room yelling at me to hurry up. I was already hurrying, but he kept yelling that he was going to be late for his meeting. So, I tried to hurry more.

Interesting thing about working in a darkroom: the light is red, so you can’t actually see your blood. And, yep, here it comes, folks… a razor blade diagonally right through my nail and the end of my left index finger. Even with the red light, I knew it was pretty bad, so I opened the door and the blood was actually spurting out of my finger. I felt faint and swooned: “I think I need to go to the hospital.” The salesman looked at my finger and my dead-white face, then said in an outraged tone: “But who’s going to finish my stats???!!!”

My boss drove me to the hospital ER, where I was lucky to get a good surgeon. Six stitches later (including the ones in my nail), I found myself on the bus home with my finger all bandaged up and elevated. If you look closely, you can still see the scar on my finger to this day. I worked at the place for almost a year more, and never got one word of caring sympathy from that salesman.

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you've hated having to use more than any other?

Wax and waxers. I don’t care what kind. I live in Atlanta, which gets extremely warm in the summer. Wax just doesn’t work down here, but some of the agencies used it -- less carcinogenic and less messy than Spray Mount, I guess. But once I had to leave some mechanicals in my hideous used 1970 Ford Torino with no power steering, no power brakes, and no air conditioning. It was just for a little while, but when I came back, everything had completely melted off of the mechanical board. Everything. I hated that car, and it finally died from lack of a badly needed ring job, covered in kudzu in my apartment parking lot. Which is why I had to take the bus from the ER in answer #1.

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

I loved gradient Pantone papers. I just thought they looked so smooth and perfect. I guess someone had actually sprayed the paper somehow or it was done mechanically, but back then, the only way you could get a gradient to print in a spot color was by gluing it right on the board. For years, I kept a flat file full of medium gray to black, and light gray to dark gray.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you've just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

Like many of the folks who’ve already shared their stories, I keep tons of the old stuff! I still have all my old Rapidographs. Needless to say, they don’t work any more and never will. I could probably gain a lot of useful space in my old taboret if I just cleaned it out. I rarely throw stuff out, but see my answer to number 5, below…

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

Yes! I bought this weird contraption that was “like” an airbrush but without the expense of an actual airbrush. You attached design markers to the nozzle which was hooked up to a can of compressed air. You could really kind of airbrush stuff. I had seen this in a design studio where I was freelancing, and they let me use it. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. When I finally threw it out for some inexplicable forgotten reason, it was still in the box. Now I wish I had kept it, just so I could send you a photo of it.

(Curator’s note: Mourn for your contraption no more, Linda! The Design Marker Airbrush can be seen in the Color Tools section of the Museum, albeit without the box)
 
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 12 - Jim Sizemore

posted: January 30, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.


Jim Sizemore was a Visual Information Specialist in the art department of the Social Security Administration from 1963 until 1988, where he earned the proud distinction of pasting up the pages of the first Medicare Handbook ever. Since then, he has been a freelance cartoonist, blogger, and teacher. His gag cartoons have been published in The Saturday Evening Post, Barron’s, Medical Economics, National Enquirer, TV Guide, and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

He has taught the history of cartooning to graduate students at the University of Baltimore; cartooning classes to undergrads at Johns Hopkins University; summer cartooning workshops to middle school children at both public and private schools, as well as at the Walters Art Museum. His one-hour “Cartooning For Kids” introduction to cartooning has been attended by thousands of children over the fifteen years he’s presented it at libraries and schools in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and Washington DC, and at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Lots to see at Jim’s Doodlemeister.com blog, as well as hundreds of his cartoons at CartoonStock.com.
 
Curator's note: The mid-60s photo of Jim shown here is somewhat of a treasure trove of forgotten art supplies frozen in time, and running it here full-column width allows us to properly savor every one of them.
 
1. Can you recall your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

Actually, it was a series of "worst" art supply experiences! It was way back in the days before anyone had ever thought of such a thing as a PowerPoint presentation. I was a Visual Information Specialist for the Social Security Administration. The job included a lot of late night overtime -- even the occasional all-nighter -- preparing large statistical charts that the SSA Commissioner used in his presentations to Congress. I was a very fast layout man, so it was usually my job to plot the points on the "fever" charts, rough in the percentage slices of pie charts, etc., and hand off my pencil layouts to the Speedball pen and brush letterers. Then it was back to me to add Chartpak tape to the plot lines, Pantone color paper cutouts of the pie chart slices and to erase the penciled lettering and stat guides. I LOVED the fast and dynamic layout stage, but I HATED that Chartpak tape and color paper … not to mention all that erasing!

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

The electric eraser – you can see it there on the windowsill behind me in the photo. I kept it out of sight there, so I'd "forget" I had it. Using the damn thing required a light touch, and I was more the slap-dash-speedy sort. I’d usually press too hard and destroy some part of a cartoon I'd just inked, or a type galley, or an expensive 30" x 40" sheet of illustration board.

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

My trusty-dusty Roto Tray (note its place of honor in the picture) probably doesn't completely qualify as being “forgotten,” at least not by me, but Roto Trays have been around as long as I can remember. I use it just about every day. It's a dandy desktop storage setup for all kinds of pens, pencils, X-acto knives, erasers, and rulers. Besides its clever lazy susan design, it's a beautiful object. Plus… it's fun to spin!

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

Just the other day, I put a capped Sharpie Fine Point in the breast pocket of my favorite shirt, only to discover later that it had somehow managed to leak. Of course, now the shirt can only be worn under a sweater. So I've been reminded once again how much I love and miss my nerdy clear plastic pocket protector. Look closely at the picture and you can make it out, complete with a pen or two inserted. Also likely in that same pocket -- at least until 1973, when I quit cold turkey -- was a pack of Lucky Strikes.

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

That would be my Koh-I-Noor Pen Cleaning Kit. It cost me $19.38 -- I still have it and the price sticker is on the box.
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 11 - Daniel Pelavin

posted: January 25, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.

Detroit-born Daniel Pelavin learned the crafts of typography and design under the tutelage of Detroit's professional art studios and type houses. From his earliest work produced with draftsman’s tools, to his present day digital virtuosity, he has used a restrained and simplified vocabulary of geometric forms, flat colors, and letterforms inspired by a wide range of 20th century ephemera.

His lifetime fascination with letterforms has led him to create fonts that have been influenced by many different historical periods. While some are faithful to traditional forms and others reflect a unique take on idioms of the past, all are designed to be tools which provide a designer the inspiration to explore his or her own creative vision. See Daniel’s amazing work at www.pelavin.com.
1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

My love of art supplies was actually the strongest motivation for being in this business in the first place -- which is why I insist on living no more than 2-1/2 minutes away from Pearl Paint. However, the possible inhalation of various art supplies over time has softened my memory of unpleasant experiences. I’ve survived bubbly/wrinkled/torn Cello-tak; partial amputation by #11 X-acto; infuriatingly clogged rapidographs; spills and leakages of everything from india ink to Bestine to rubber cement (both one- and two-coat); the dreaded capillary action that causes ink to run and smear under templates and french curves; jams and malfunctions of stat cameras, processors and phototypesetters; and work burnt unrecognizable while in the dry mount press.

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

The airbrush provides the greatest opportunity for art supply fuckups. Take your choice of leaky frisket or one that takes the illustration surface up with it. Throw in unexpected spurts and splatters, the ear-splitting rumble of a compressor jiggling its way across the room, or the certainty that you will run out of air mid-deadline. And, of course, those dangerous unpleasant vapors which thinly coat all surfaces and make surprise appearances when you blow your nose. Not to mention the onerous task of airbrush maintenance and cleaning.


3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

My Mutoh Jr. drafting machine (which I still have stashed away somewhere): a sturdy, reliable, infinitely configurable friend, always ready to serve the all-in-one purpose of t-square, ruler, scale and adjustable triangle.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

Throw away art supplies? Seriously?

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

Mechanical pencils of every variety, leads of every shape and hardness, and an assortment of both electric and mechanical sharpeners, all purchased in the futile search to draw the perfect line.
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 10 - Clare Vanacore

posted: January 24, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.

When an injury abruptly ended her ballet career with New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, Clare Vanacore turned her creative attention toward the visual arts, enrolling in The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Since then, her technological and industrial landscapes have been seen in such publications as Time Magazine, and have been featured in several published collected works, including Outstanding American Artists Today, published in Japan by Graphic-Sha. She currently resides in Northern California.
1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

Nothing awful has ever happened to me directly as a result of art supplies, although I guess a portfolio would be considered an art supply. One day, I was delivering my portfolio to a client in Manhattan. I was wearing a new wide-brimmed suede hat that I had paid way way too much for, and a pigeon shit on my head. I didn’t see him, but felt the “plop” before this white stuff started dripping from the brim. First I was horrified. Then I was pissed. By the time I got to the client, I was laughing out loud.

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

The Wacom tablet. Supposedly, it can be set to feel like your favorite pencil, pen or brush. But it just doesn’t work for me. It’s wonderful for retouching in Photoshop, but as far as drawing, I need to feel the magic of pencil to paper. I just scan it into the computer afterwards.

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

Most of the time, I’ve used my Canon AE-1 camera as my sketch pad, but there’s a lot less slide film around than there used to be.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

I’ve never thrown any art supplies away. I may not be able to lay my hands on them, but I’ve never thrown any away.

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

Packages of oragami paper. Typical exquisite Japanese packaging! To open them… what, and destroy that beautifully designed block of fanned-out papers?
Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 9 - Randall Enos

posted: January 18, 2012
"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.

Randall Enos has been an icon in American illustration and cartooning for 56 years. Born “at a very early age” in the former whaling city of New Bedford, MA, he claims to “have always known what he’s wanted to be: an aging balding magazine illustrator.”  Basically self-taught, his work has appeared in virtually every major American magazine. “Except The New Yorker,” adds Randy. “It doesn’t matter, though, because everyone I talk to thinks I’ve worked for The New Yorker. And the same goes for the Society of Illustrators. Everybody seems to think I’ve won a medal at SI, but I never have.”

His comic strip “Chicken Gutz” held a lengthy major monthly presence during the Golden Age of the National Lampoon, and various television networks have commissioned his art for film animation. He and his wife, Leann, live in Easton, CT, where he is currently working on a yearlong project about the great white whale Mocha Dick, the real life prototype for Melville’s novel.
1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

My most horrific art supply moment occurred in the early 60s, when I would take any job that came along. I got saddled with a project from McGraw-Hill that entailed, for some reason, putting down tons of Prestype lettering. I don't think there were even any drawings involved, just lettering. My wife watched me laying this stuff down for days -- swearing at each "broken" letter and trying to patch up the next with a pen while straightening out others by scratching them out and pressing down new letters. I had to stay awake for an amazing three days and nights (I was young and could do that then).

Finally by the fourth night with no end in sight, I succumbed to sleep. I blissfully snored through any trepidation about deadlines. When I awoke, panic struck, of course. I realized that it was all due that day and I had not even begun to have it finished. I slunk into my studio to view the looming disaster... and... (are you sitting down?) to my utter shock there was my job completely finished and neatly piled up ready to be delivered. My wife Leann, possessing artistic ability and a complete knowledge of what had to be done on the job, had stayed up all night and finished it for me. WHEW...I still get the willies thinking about it!

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

I hated using a compass with ink to make a circle because it would always blob on me right at the end. Speaking of "blobbing", I did a parody of Terry Gilliam’s animation style for the Lampoon, so I was forced to borrow a tool I was totally unfamiliar with: an AIRBRUSH! It was not a good one and every time I would try to get this smooth landscape going that went continuously for several pages behind my python, the airbrush would spit out a blob or splatter on the page. I would then paint a bush or tree to cover it. Needless to say my landscape was replete with forestry.

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

Pantone papers, of course. My life-blood. I printed all my linocut-collages on them. They were tough and beautifully colorful but unfortunately were rendered useless in this computer age because designers no longer need them to spec color for printers etc. They’ve even destroyed the machinery that made them. I fortunately still have a small stash and some at the art store, which I am slowly buying up. I also get some from widows of deceased artists. But mainly, I’ve been reduced to coloring my work with Photoshop Pantone Colors.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

This is a hard one to answer, because I hardly ever throw anything away except my linoblocks when the job is finished (I know, I know, what's my address and when do they pick up the garbage...yeah yeah... forget about it). When I look into some of my cabinets, I'm shocked at some of the old stuff I find. Let's see, I've still got the electric eraser, the French curves, some Letraset, lettering guides, ruling pens, animation pegs, punched animation paper, AND I'm typing this on my OS 9.1 Rasterops computer. I'm blank...can't think of anything I've thrown out that I wish I had.

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

Well...it's not exactly an antique, but I have a Wacom tablet (probably the first one they ever made) which I have NEVER used...but it’s dutifully plugged into my computer. And I loved those adjustable, rubbery strips that you could form into any curve or shape that you needed to trace. Had one...NEVER ever used it.

There...those are my answers and I'm sticking by them come hell or high water... I'm pretty sure.
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