GOOD

Lou Brooks' Loving, Curmudgeonly Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies

From SCUM-X Cleaning Powder to the Polaroid SLR 680, a graphic design veteran's digital display of obsolete tools of the trade.

Self-dubbed “the world’s oldest kid,” illustrator, designer, and author LouBrooks is one of those people whose work has helped shape the pop culture landscape of the last 40 years. A self-taught artist whose style is a mashup of 1940s and 1950s comics, pulp fiction book covers, the golden age of advertising and Mad magazine, Brooks' illustrations have been featured in just about every major publication including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Time and Newsweek. He has won numerous awards including the Illustrator of the Year award from Adweek magazine. He even redesigned the Monopoly man. His latest project, The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, a hat tip to days gone by, is a cheerful exhibition of aged tools of the trade.

GOOD: What led you to create the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies?


LOU BROOKS: When you think about it, most things that have happened have happened in the past. But bolts of inspiration actually do happen. Georges Simenon used to leave his friends standing on the sidewalk in mid-conversation, yelling, "I'm about to have a book!" In 2006, I was invited to join Drawger.com, an invitation-only sort of "elitist" blog for illustrators, and while setting up housekeeping there, I noticed you could also set up a little "show" about anything you wanted. I thought about how it's all changed so completely, and I thought of the museum. It was nothing more than an inside joke. I began to upload "artifact" images, and was sure that any comments would come solely from other Drawger members, which was true at first. But somehow, it just got very viral very quickly. People from outside the site were sending in images from all over the place, and a little community grew around the Museum.

GOOD: Where have these forgotten art supplies gone? Are they all casualties of the digital revolution?

BROOKS: You would think so. But plenty of them are still being used. I get emails and comments saying: “I still use that thing every day, you bum! How dare you call it forgotten!” Those who take the Museum literally at its word regarding what is “forgotten” are missing some of the fun of it all.

GOOD: Are these forgotten supplies still tools of the trade for you or do you work digitally now?

BROOKS: In the beginning, I inked everything with technical pens and templates. It was all derivative of my production art background. Every black line was shaved to perfection with a #16 blade and on and on long into the night. When I was finally able to reach the same perfection by pushing vector buttons on my first Mac Centris, I thought, “This has all been invented because of me.” I was walking on water, and cured many sick people before donating most all my art supplies to Parsons, and moved out to Northern California. Now, a dozen years later, I’ve kind of made a circle, and am back to inking on paper, then taking it into the Mac and putting it through some closely guarded family techniques. So, it’s a nice balance, and satisfies my tactile cravings for the flex of the pen nib on gritty paper.

GOOD: Of the supplies showcased, do you have any favorites? Is there anything that you’d like to have in the museum that you don’t?

BROOKS: Well, same as most everybody else, a lot of my favorites are the ones that I actually used. They can take you right back to that moment. It can be a lot like hearing that song that was playing when you were slow dancing with Darla Jean Potts. You can smell the Spray Net in her hair. My first job was on the night shift in the art department at a large Philadelphia newspaper. The paper doesn’t even exist anymore. The first thing they taught me how to use was their stat camera, which was so big, it required its own room. You’d set a can of peaches in front of the lens, then touch up the print with pen and ink for a supermarket ad. Coming from parking trucks in a steel mill, I thought I was Vincent van Gogh. They also taught me the PhotoTypositor, which I fell in love with. It was about the size of an antique airplane console, but with cranks and pulleys. You exposed type on a little paper strip, one letter at a time. You could do a whole headline in about 30 minutes, if the machine was well maintained. I’ve carried the PhotoTypositor and stat camera around in my heart ever since.

GOOD: The museum is open to public submission and at this point hosts images of over 400 artifacts. You’ve also incorporated features where artists recount stories from their own careers. Tell us about the community that has sprung up around the museum.

BROOKS: When I finally got the Museum rolling, I admit I was mistakenly expecting a bit of an elephant graveyard where all graphic arts geezers go to die. I was thinking about going there someday to collect the ivory. But I’m happy to say that there’s a solid permeation of young artists besides. After growing up with iMacs and Game Boys, they seem hypnotized at times by any tactile way of doing art.

As far as the community, much of it is rooted in the pre-Mac generation. But don’t forget, not everyone ran out back then and bought an outrageously expensive Quadra and all the peripherals. It was a gradual thing, so the age range of Museum fans is pretty wide. They’re not all geezers whining for the good old days. In fact, some of the geezers say they’re glad those days are gone. Cutting your finger off with an X-acto knife wears on a person after a while.

GOOD: What has the response to the museum been?

BROOKS: I get emails pretty much every day thanking me for the Museum. They can be quite touching at times. They often mention how much they miss the smell of the supplies from back then. It’s funny how smells are so tied in with our pasts. On the other hand, someone wrote me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I could fix her old waxer. She’d be happy to send it along for repair. I’m thinking maybe there’s big money to be made in waxer repair.

Slideshows

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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