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Tools Of The Trade Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

29 August 2016

Hung under the drawing table are a set of tools that once were indispensible to the practice of our craft. And while there is nothing obsolete about them, it surprises us how infrequently we turn to them.

Old Tools. Guess what they did in their day.

You can make out about nine or ten of them, although there are a few more. Can you guess what they're for?

The black three-hole punch resting on a shelf (well, actually on some long rulers useful for graphic design that you can barely make out) is still how we bind our printouts. But we don't generate as many printouts as we used to.

To the far left is a small metallic erasing shield whose holes exposed what you wanted to erase, protecting the rest of your work. Behind it sits a couple of translucent triangles, one of which has an adjustable angle.

On the next nail, there's a type size gauge in Times Roman and Helvetica and a sandpaper pencil sharpener to put a fine point on lead.

Ancient stuff. But once upon a time, they helped us manage the physical realities of graphic design.

You probably guessed the next nail holds a ruler but there are actually three of them: a soft-backed ruler that won't slide around on top, with a long 18-inch ruler behind it and an antique pica ruler behind that.

Then we get modern with a 300-baud modem cable for the TRS Model 100. Which still works. It was our first portable computer. We'd log into Compuserve and our Fido bulletin board system when we weren't writing on it.

Two more rulers. The metal one is bowed for convenience and slips around easily while the wooden one has a raised metal edge for drawing without bleeding onto the support below. You can never have too many rulers.

On the far right, you can see a brush. We used the brush to clean away erasures. But it comes in handy these days to prep fine art papers, which should always be brushed before loading into the printer.

You get extra points if you see the french curve hung from the back. And there is an envelope of plastic templates and smaller guides behind the brush and rulers.

Ancient stuff. But once upon a time, they helped us manage the physical realities of graphic design. And then still help us now with photo cards and framing tasks.

It makes us wonder, though, about the fate of the tools we use today, so much less concerned with physical issues as we manipulate bits and bytes.

Twenty years from now, will we be as puzzled by today's interfaces? Will Camera Raw and the Upright tool with all its options look as quaint as a three-hole punch and a collection of rulers?

There's only one way to find out. Stay tuned.

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