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Cow Gum & Magic Markers

If you are of a certain age and you frequented graphic design studios before Apple Macs made their appearance, then I'm sure you will remember the pungent smell of Cow Gum and the colourful arrays of Magic If you are of a certain age and you frequented graphic design studios before Apple Macs made their appearance, then I'm sure you will remember the pungent smell of Cow Gum and the colourful arrays of Magic Markers, scalpels in abundance, yellow lighter fuel canisters and sheets of Letraset.

Cow gum was a solvent based latex glue packaged up in it's distinctive red and white tin. It was great for sticking your artwork together as it didn't cause paper to wrinkle like water based glues would, it also had the disadvantage that it would end up where you didn't want it to! Graphic designers across the globe had great fun rolling the glue into balls and chucking it across the office whilst involuntary (or voluntary) getting high on the fumes at the same time.

I can still remember the smell I experienced when entering agencies' premises, its the type of smell you never forget.

Often next to the Cow Gum was a very expensive set of Magic Markers, either arranged in neat order, or as I usually saw, strewn across the desk and surrounding area. To complement Cow Gum the markers had their own unique 'volatile' smell and squeaky noise when used, they came in chubby bottles with fat felt tips. I miss those great scamps that were created using these markers, there was greater scope for interpretation of the brief and a really good showcase for the artistic talents of the graphic designer. I also think that the thought process works far better for creating ideas with sketching pen to paper, rather than recycling images on a computer. These great illustrations are virtually extinct now, which is a shame. I still find myself sketching out ideas in front of clients (using pencils and a large layout pad), not only to show what I'm thinking of, but to also explore possibilities before the shoot commences.

Don't forget those Pantone Colour Specifier swatches either. Sheets of lots of little coloured squares that can be torn off along the perforations. No design studio should have be without.

As for Letraset (dry transfer lettering), well that is something I never really liked at all, tedious to apply and generally annoying to use, and you can still buy it!

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