Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies


Digital products like Adobe Photoshop and InDesign have changed the ways we draw, paint, draft, and design.  This page, from Drawger, shows the scale of the shift, from adjustable triangles to white-out. 


One response to “Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies

  1. In my industry, book publishing, not all of the supplies shown at are entirely forgotten, but they’re increasingly hard to purchase. Just last year I had to do an old-fashioned paste-up job on a 1950s physics book being reprinted with revisions (Lillian Lieber, “The Einstein Theory of Relativity,” published by Paul Dry Books). Scanning the original into a new, editable electronic document was impractical because of the many complex mathematical formulas. But most of the changes amounted to excisions of footnotes and renumbering of pages, so paste-up looked easy. Triumphantly I exhumed the X-Acto knife and plastic burnisher from my desk. Our rubber cement was old and dried up, however, and we were out of wax cubes for the little hand waxer we bought in the 1980s. No problem–just pick up more supplies at an art store, right? Well, it took me about two months to get wax cubes from an online source, and I never did find better opaquing fluid than Wite-Out. Luckily, the Best-Test cement pictured at Drawger is still on the shelves in some stores, probably for children’s projects.

    The reduction wheel (top row, far left on the Drawger page, essentially a simplified slide rule for English majors) disappeared in our industry when most English majors learned how to use hand calculators. (Admittedly, some remain challenged by the concept of percentages.) Yet we still wield pica rulers daily (top row, third from left), and I was using a Pantone color guide (left column, fourth from top) just yesterday to help me choose a print color that I knew would look different on a screen.

    The real question is, as the mechanics of drawing and designing have changed, have our aesthetics been driven by the technology? Long after book designs went digital, a designer told me she still sketched her ideas before turning on the computer, so that her creativity wouldn’t be locked into the software’s menu choices. But that was at least a dozen years ago; probably now, like everyone else, she “thinks” in the language of Photoshop and Illustrator.

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