There’s nothing quite like a tool made with care and precision, one that was made to last and get better with age. Yesterday Joel’s parents gave him these vintage oil cans for an early birthday present, which we promptly filled with 3-in-1 Multipurpose Oil and placed with care in our letterpress shop. (Our press thanked us.)
A pencil is a simple concept: a material that leaves a mark via physical abrasion when dragged across a surface. We’ve found, however, that pencils are much more subtle and complex than their definition. In the last 10 years as we’ve grown more serious about drawing, choosing the best fit of pencils has been a quest of sorts. There are so many factors one encounters—shape of the wooden casing around the graphite (round or hexagonal?), the materials used for the casing (wood or woodless?), the softness versus hardness of the graphite (H, B, or HB?).
Enter our hero, the Staedtler Mars Lumograph 4B pencil. It’s the goldilocks of pencils: the graphite is just soft enough to glide across the paper, but not so soft that it’s not erasable; yet it’s hard enough that one can sharpen it to a fine point that will keep for a good few square inches of drawing, which helps us when we draw fine lines for our final pieces. And most importantly, we’ve never encountered one where the lead is broken internally halfway down the pencil body, which we were surprised to find with several other leading brands of drawing pencils. We now buy these puppies 2 dozen at a time and wear them down to the length of a tube of chapstick.
What’s your favorite drawing pencil, and why? Leave a comment to tell us!
That’s how would sum up the networking cycle, which is the current that runs through the wiring of our freelance studio and powers what we do. We could both be working the 9-to-5 graphic design jobs we originally set out to procure and just illustrate off to the side, but we wouldn’t be able to devote nearly the amount of time to drawing that we do as full-time freelancers.
But ah! “How does one get work?” we’re often asked, especially since we don’t live in a major creative metropolitan area. We always answer: networking, networking, and more networking. We’ll talk more about how we like to network in future posts, but simply put: the more new media we create (writing, photos, and drawings) and the more we talk about it, the more people find out about us. The more people know about us, the more we get hired for freelance work, and the more likely it is that our electricity stays on, our cats get fed, and our rent gets paid.
Or, generating buzz brings in bucks for the bills.
Let us begin this post by stating the obvious: we’re Disney nerds. As illustrators looking to improve our craft, what better way is there to feature some of our favorite bits of the Disneyverse than by drawing them and regularly posting them to our blog?
Today’s Disney Spot comes from one of our favorite Magic Kingdom events, the Main Street Electrical Parade, where a whole menagerie of parade floats drives around the park and blasts an incredibly awesome and kitschy synthesizer air called “Baroque Hoedown.” Our favorite character in the parade, which we’ve showcased today, is a snail that spins around wildly down the path, chirping, tweeting and trilling.
Saturday typically conjures up blissful scenes of repose at home or a refreshing outing. Ever since the new year, though, our Saturdays found us swimming in seas of cardboard boxes and the contents of an overturned house as we prepared to move our house and studio from Hillsborough to our loft apartment in Saxapahaw. Today, the two-week mark from moving day, our fatigue (and the snow falling outside of our window) gave rise to a rebellion: reading, relaxing with kitties, and, of course, muffins.
Today’s Ship-o-gram comes from our trip to nearby Edinburgh, a short train ride away from where we’re staying in Falkirk. The photo on the left is bangers and mash from our trip to Mum’s, a local restaurant specializing in Scottish comfort food, and the photo on the right is a wall-o-graves from Greyfriars Kirk, an old church in the old downtown area. While we realize that a day’s visit can barely scratch the surface of a city so beautiful, rich in history, and lively in culture, we loved the little bit that we got to see of it.
We recently posted Return of the Conductor, our old-timey conductor in a reprisal role of mascot for NC Rail-Trails’ annual fundraiser 5K. Today we’re proudly showing off the poster we created for the event. If you’ll be in the Durham area, sign up now and reserve your spot!
When it comes to keeping records, chances are good that you, or someone you know, has a friend or acquaintance who writes down everything. Joel is our in-house record keeper, and today’s post marks the tenth anniversary of a series of his notebooks. Here’s a mini-memoir he wrote about them:
I’ve been compulsively writing things down, at random, since I was several years shy of having just learned to write. The earliest notebook I remember keeping was a small, spiral-bound book with sections of paper dyed in 90’s-appropriate neons. The only thing I distinctly know I wrote was every house number on my street on Parallel Lane in Columbia, Maryland; for some reason it was relevant to my life to ride my bike, in fits and starts, down towards the cul-de-sac and back up in order to compile that list. I learned that there were 18 houses on my street, a fact that surprised me because it seemed too small a street to hold that many houses, but a far that was otherwise completely pointless.
I kept notes off and on through school, but not with any regularity until I went to Germany on a yearlong foreign exchange after high school. On a whim, I bought a little 3 x 5” Herlitz graph paper notebook and a Stabilo 88 pen, the kind most German schoolkids use, and began to take notes on September 28, 2002. Many of those early notebooks are filled with page after page of mostly copied-down passages from stupid books like Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and Steal This Book and cryptic definitions from the German encyclopedia in my host family’s living room, but there are also some interesting bits mixed in that give me hints of what I was doing at the time: German words I was learning, what I bought and how much it cost, sometimes jotted-down thoughts and observations of life around me.
A lot of it was pointless note-taking, like copying down the numbers to all 18 houses on my street. However, time gives pointless things meaning, and the fact that I remember counting houses on my street, and that I remember that number to this day, is as fascinating to me as seeing Winston Churchill’s toothbrush in a museum case. (I don’t know if it exists, but it would say something about Winston Churchill that we would even want to keep his dental maintenance habits in mind.) I write a lot more than pointless stuff now, including ideas for new projects, funny things people said, and I draw a lot in them, too. But in all honesty, over time, the mundane stuff will be just as important as the stuff with substance.
I will never stop random stuff in notebooks, for several reasons: I never know where inspiration is going to come from, I know that any combination of overlooked details can be synthesized into something new, and I know that to look at the world with curiosity is to be rich indeed. Lord willing, here’s to another 10 years of obsessive note-taking.
When a recent logo inquiry included the phrase “You had me at posting about your Harry Potter Movie Week,” we had a good feeling that we’d hit it off. Sure enough, we had a blast working with Jenni on her rebranding, which involves a shifting from focusing solely on photography and branching out into lifestyle blogging. To help her encapsulate awestruck warmth, zest for life, and a roaming spirit, we combined a friendly script with outdoorsy images and wrapped it up in a bright blue and warm gray, which she likened to Hermione’s flames as described in the Harry Potter series. After that description, the final product was just icing on the cake.