Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies

Unforgettable Art Supply Moment No. 11 - Daniel Pelavin

January 26th 2012

"My Most Unforgettable Art Supply Moment" is a series of short interviews with seasoned artists who have survived substantial combat in the great war of the graphic arts. Each participant was asked the same five questions.

Detroit-born Daniel Pelavin learned the crafts of typography and design under the tutelage of Detroit's professional art studios and type houses. From his earliest work produced with draftsman’s tools, to his present day digital virtuosity, he has used a restrained and simplified vocabulary of geometric forms, flat colors, and letterforms inspired by a wide range of 20th century ephemera.

His lifetime fascination with letterforms has led him to create fonts that have been influenced by many different historical periods. While some are faithful to traditional forms and others reflect a unique take on idioms of the past, all are designed to be tools which provide a designer the inspiration to explore his or her own creative vision. See Daniel’s amazing work at

1. Can you recall for us your worst most unforgettable art supply experience?

My love of art supplies was actually the strongest motivation for being in this business in the first place -- which is why I insist on living no more than 2-1/2 minutes away from Pearl Paint. However, the possible inhalation of various art supplies over time has softened my memory of unpleasant experiences. I’ve survived bubbly/wrinkled/torn Cello-tak; partial amputation by #11 X-acto; infuriatingly clogged rapidographs; spills and leakages of everything from india ink to Bestine to rubber cement (both one- and two-coat); the dreaded capillary action that causes ink to run and smear under templates and french curves; jams and malfunctions of stat cameras, processors and phototypesetters; and work burnt unrecognizable while in the dry mount press.

2. Other than your first answer, is there an art supply that you’ve hated having to use more than any other?

The airbrush provides the greatest opportunity for art supply fuckups. Take your choice of leaky frisket or one that takes the illustration surface up with it. Throw in unexpected spurts and splatters, the ear-splitting rumble of a compressor jiggling its way across the room, or the certainty that you will run out of air mid-deadline. And, of course, those dangerous unpleasant vapors which thinly coat all surfaces and make surprise appearances when you blow your nose. Not to mention the onerous task of airbrush maintenance and cleaning.

3. On the other hand, can you think of an especially favorite art supply that you miss the most that has unfortunately left us for that big art supply heaven in the sky?

My Mutoh Jr. drafting machine (which I still have stashed away somewhere): a sturdy, reliable, infinitely configurable friend, always ready to serve the all-in-one purpose of t-square, ruler, scale and adjustable triangle.

4. Are there any other art supplies that you’ve just plain thrown away that you wish you still had?

Throw away art supplies? Seriously?

5. At one time or another, a lot of us have purchased something that we thought was soooo cool when we saw it at the art supply store, then we ended up never ever using it. Has this ever happened to you?

Mechanical pencils of every variety, leads of every shape and hardness, and an assortment of both electric and mechanical sharpeners, all purchased in the futile search to draw the perfect line.

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