The other day I finished a project for my department: Making fliers to try to entice people into using the bookmobile. Turbo-nerd that I am, the central theme revolved around the library's extensive graphic novel collection. Leave it to your local library to piggyback on the success of Watchmen for our own ruthless ends.
I made the background graphic from scratch, and I thought it turned out okay. I borrowed Watchmen's rigid three-by-three paneling (obviously I'm talking about the book now, not the movie) and featured close-ups of some of my favorite characters. The center panel was taken up by Rorschach, Nite Owl, and Dr. Manhattan, just in case anyone missed the point.
For text, I broke down some recommendations for borrowing, after making sure that each title was available in the collection. Overall, I think it worked out pretty well: Informative, brightly colored to attract the eye, and (hopefully) enticing.
Still, I don't think I've ever drawn anything without a degree of regret. It's not even a question that there are better artists out there than me, but overall adeptness isn't my issue here.
As I drew my panels with a borrowed t-square and apologized profusely to my coworker whose computer is the only one directly linked to the office scanner/printer in order to get my drawing transferred to my flash drive, I was plagued by visions.
Visions of non-photo blue pencils while spending a big chunk of my time in the GIMP to clean up the worst of the scratchings and erasure residue left by my HB mechanical pencil. Visions of india ink and nibbed pens instead of wrestling with the mouse and "Ctrl-Z". Visions of working with bristol board instead of printer paper.
And these thoughts, of course, lead to others: Real drafting tools. A drawing board. My own scanner. On beyond zebra.
"So what's the matter, then?" pipes up the straw man at the back of the crowd. "You want these things so badly, why don't you just go and get them?"
I could answer by citing the economy and my bills, but that only answers part of the question. Sometimes I do, in fact, have the money on hand to knock a few items off of that list. Even the scanner isn't entirely inconceivable, given how much perfectly good computer equipment I've obtained at Goodwill over the years.
The main issue is sticker shock. There's just something in my overly-cautious, working class brain that recoils at the idea of paying almost a dollar per pencil. Yes, I know, these aren't the #2 leads I gnawed on in the second grade, but that doesn't stop some portion of my brain from screaming "THIS IS A RACKET!" whenever I pore through an art supply catalog.
Don't even get me started on technical pens.