HOME MUSEUM BLOG CONTACT MEET THE CURATOR
No, later 70s. I had one in college, and it's still in my old...
- Claire SN
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.
Art Supplies of the Gods #5

posted: February 11, 2012
Lobby card photo 1956 20th Century-Fox Film Corp.
Frontier illustrator hunk Jonathan Adams (Scott Brady), takes on an assignment by a Massachusetts society to paint "frontier scenes" in the 1956 20th Century-Fox film "Mohawk." He seems to have no problem painting a portrait of Mohawk Chief Kowanen (Ted de Corsia) and the missus that coincidentally looks exactly like a photograph -- in spite of no art supplies at all, except for a rather crude frontier taboret and his trusty No. 12 frontier chisel brush.
 
He has a hot time with his new-found artist's model, Greta Jones (Allison Hayes) while fooling around with the Chief's daughter, Onida (Rita Gam), until fiancee Cynthia Stanhope (Lori Nelson) arrives from the east and ruins all his fun. Man, you can't turn your back on an illustrator for a minute!
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)
 
Topics
Archive
Latest Artifact no. 717 and counting!
All content 2017 Lou Brooks. All rights reserved.