Tools of the Trade

July 20, 2014 / Design Inspiration
old metal stencils

I am kind of obsessed with vintage stuff. I collect vintage ads, ephemera and art supplies. I look to these historical references for inspiration, and know I am but a dwarf standing on the shoulder of giants.

The graphic design tools I have at my disposal to create with today are amazing (Adobe Software! MacBook Pro!), but the earlier tools were a reminder that they are all just tools — objects we use to implement our ideas. They have and will no doubt continue to change rapidly. Being a creative person and a graphic designer to me is not just about knowing how to use the tools of the trade, but more importantly about how to be a problem solver, an idea generator. A great design solution is not tool dependent, it starts with a great idea and the tools come later.

Graphic Design Tools, Eureka Interlocking Adjustable Brass Stencils, date unknown

Eureka Interlocking Adjustable Brass Stencils, date unknown

Graphic Design Tools, Victor Ellipse-O-Graph, date unknown

Victor Ellipse-O-Graph, date unknown

Finding Design Inspiration

May 28, 2014 / Design Inspiration

Designers don’t design in a vacuum (well this designer doesn’t). They look for pieces of inspiration from the world around them and bring ideas and inspiration together into a new design.

Before my Pinterest profile kept track of all the little web scraps, sites and images that inspired me, I had a long, long list of bookmarks. Well, I still have that long list of bookmarks, but many of those links have gotten quite dusty over the last couple years. Today in looking for some inspiration for a design I thought to dust off some of those links only to find about 70% were now dead.

Glad to see a few of my more niche favorites are still alive and kicking:

50 Watts

(formerly A Journey Round My Skull)

“…quite possibly the richest source of bookelated design and illustration in the universe. Will displays the fervour of the most dedicated historian whilst time and again proving he has an eye for exceptional images.” —David Pearson

Some of my faves: Movie Posters From Denmark, Vintage Swedish Movie Posters and Book Covers from Poland

Swedish Poster on 50 Watts


Accidental Mysteries


“A blog about photography, design, art, architecture, ephemera, found objects, pop culture, anonymous, outsider art, folk art, self-taught art, illustration, beauty, esoterica, auctions, discovery, art environments, mystery, vintage stuff and the magic that can be found in everyday things.”

Great example from Accidental Mysteries: The Sideshow Banners of Fred Johnson

Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies


A site featuring galleries of vintage art supplies and packaging and vintage art supply ads.


And for one of the best lists of inspiration sites I have seen… head on over to The Next Web