Old School

Leveling It Up, 1920 vs 2019

When I was 4 and a half I lost my grandfather to cancer. I don’t remember that much about the whole ordeal that seemed to last for an entire year. I have faded memories of my grandfather from before he ended up in the hospital, and I remember the hospital itself. Sitting in the lobby under the watchful eye of one of the nurses. I can still see the Green and White linoleum tiled floor, brown marble columns, the massive wooden desk the nurses sat at and the bronze ceiling clock to this day. To pass the time while my mom and grandmother were visiting him, I would look through the Sears Christmas catalog and dream about all the toys I wanted. I wasn’t allowed to go up to his room because of my age and the seriousness of his illness.

After my grandfather passed there were a few things that were given to my older brother and I. All of his fishing tackle including the most amazing green Zebco fly reel. A wooden level that he had purchased around 1920 according to my grandmother. Various odds and ends like a wooden ashtray that looked like a sombrero he had purchased in Tijuana and things I simply can’t remember. All of it is gone now except for the level. I have somehow managed to hang on to it for all these years and until recently used it from time to time. It was hard to read due to dirt and the fact the bubbles had fogged over time, but it has sentimental value and there is something about the way it was built. It’s a tank.

1920 vs 2019

Late last week I bought a new gas grill that will be arriving soon and I knew I was going to need to level out the section of the patio where the grill would live. The patio tapers away from the house and I had no idea how much. I finally caved and decided to get a new 36-inch level to make sure that my handy work was going to be accurate. I jumped on Amazon and quickly saw that there are about 100 million different choices when it comes to levels. I didn’t need anything fancy, but I did want something that was solid and would stand the test of time. Something like my grandfathers trusty wooden level from the 1920s.

My level of choice was the Sands Level & Tool SL3030 Professional Cast Aluminum Level, 36-Inch level. Is it as cool as a 100-year-old wooden level? Yes and no. It’s a solid product, featuring a cast aluminum body with red lacquered edges. It looks great, and it also looks like the design hasn’t been updated since the 1960s except for the bubble assemblies which I really like. I love the fact that embossed in the casting is the company name and slogan, “Sands Levels Tell the Truth” It gives it that extra something that just completes the product for me. I also love the fact that these are made in the USA, in Witchita Kansas.

My grandfathers level is solid mahogany and brass. It is old school, it’s an antique after all. The new level is going to do just fine though. I’ll be putting it to work on Thursday when the new grill arrives and I level it out before grilling up something tasty.

Graphic Means.

After a succesful Kickstarter campaign last year, production on Graphic Means started and it looks like it is getting close to a release date. When it hopefully comes to a theater near me I’ll be going to see it. I want to see it for the history not the nostalgia, well maybe a bit of the nostalgia. The thing is, I did all the things shown in the trailer from paste up, to color stripping and I do not want to go back to it. Sorry folks, the computer changed everything and the way we design today is better. Yes graphic design is still a refined craft that takes a lot of skill and dedication. No design wasn’t better back then simply because it was analog. I hated making Chromalins, doing paste up, and cutting color separations by hand. Did it teach me a lot? Hell yes, there are things I learned 30 years ago that still apply to what I do today, but that doesn’t mean I want to go back to the olden pre-digital days.

The trailer looks good, and the history of how the graphic design business has evolved should be pretty interesting though. So yes, I’ll be sitting in the theater, reminiscing and hopefully learning about the history of my trade as well.

P.S. they have a cool Instagram feed as well.