Monday, June 22, 2009

museum of forgotten art supplies

At the 140 (twitter) conference in New York last week, I had the pleasure of meeting the man behind fellow Mad Men tweeter Frank Adman with whom I shared not only twittertinis but memories of once essential tools of the trade. Where have all the Acu-arcs, xactos and stat cams gone? To the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, of course!

Proportional Wheel
I started out as a junior art director but switched to writer partly due to lack of math skills. You had to be a numbers person to be an art director in the old days. Standard issue to ADs was this proportional wheel, which I never was able to figure out how to work. Most had the name of the owner markered in HUGE pt type on the back.



Rubber Cement Pickup
Used for removing "goobers" left after rubber cementing a layout onto foamcore.



Polaroid SLR 680 Camera

Used to be, ad agencies did their own casting in conference rooms. Models were constantly parading through the hallways or freshening up at the ladies room mirror, where a girl could feel like a separate species. Casting directors had multiple 680s to grab headshots. I've long been in awe of one of the first casting people I worked with, an assistant named Avy Kaufman, who parlayed a knack for choosing shills for household cleaners into a brilliant career casting for Woody Allen and others.


X-acto Kit

No self-respecting art director was without a blue-anodized xacto knife, a swivel knife for cutting rubylith (see next item) and the super professional "burnisher" for rubbing down lettraset type. Letraset! Anyone remember?



Rubylith
Light-safe red film used by graphic designers for masking areas, used in various printing techniques. Some ADs sported a 7X magnifying eyepiece while cutting it or the other popular masker, yellow amberlith.


Many more blasts from the past on view at the always-open Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies. Unfortunately, no Lucigraph. Though Frank Adman claims to be harboring one in his attic.

5 comments:

me_rocke said...

On Polaroid (TM)
If you like the "look" there's www.poladroid.net

ALSO, (via Wikipedia)
Austrian photographer Florian Kaps, the owner of the largest online vendor for SX-70 films and organizer of the web-based instant photo gallery Polanoid.net, had bought the approximately 500,000 film packages that were on stock. He teamed with André Bosman, a former head of film production in the large Polaroid film factory at Enschede, designed a plan to redesign the SX-70/600 film system in collaboration with Ilford Photo, and convinced the Polaroid owners to participate. Plans for a relaunch under the Impossible label were announced in January 2009[22]. Buildings in the Enschede plant, which had produced 30 million film packs in 2007 and 24 million in the first half of 2008, were leased to the company created by Kaps, who by May 2009 had raised $2.6 million from friends and family[23] for what he had named The Impossible Project[24]

At present work focuses on the development of a new type of film cartridge. The business plan calls for prototypes to be ready by the end of 2009, and for a rollout in 2010 with one million film packs produced. An output of 3 million packs is scheduled for 2011. Impossible will also look at developing new color films for 600 and SX-70 cameras, as well as new Image (or Spectra) films.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks for this marvelous info about Polaroid. So they're not forgotten, only in reformation. Look forward to the re-launch. With geriatric James Garner and Mariette Hartley, perhaps? ;)

Jake P. said...

I love the smell of repro in the morning. Smells like...deadlines.

adchick said...

I'm SOOOOO Old. I remember other stuff, too, like mimeographs with the purple ink in grade school and U-Hoo sticks...and truth be told, there's still an old bottle of White Out in the back of my drawer!

Urban Domestic Diva aka Flora Caputo said...

Hi ad broad! LOVE your blog. I have a sad addition to your museum–the one and only black LF series Design® marker for tissues and comps. I had an old, tired one left and when I had our intern try and buy another box, found out they are discontinued. Don't know if it was the cancer-causing xylene or what, but I do miss them. I am one of the few creatives left who can draw. Keep up the posts!