Last week I took a little trip out of the South and headed for Chicago with my old lady. She had a work conference and I had the luxury of tagging along. The first day of our trip I set out by myself on a trek down the Magnificent Mile with one store in mind – Dick Blick. I am not a big shopper, even though I walked past innumerable beautiful storefronts, but I wasn’t headed to an ordinary store. Dick Blick has a nostalgia to it that dates back to my middle school art class when I started noticing brands for the first time. (Also, as a middle school boy, the name alone made me smile.) It was my dealer of choice as an art teacher and it’s been my personal favorite supplier as an artist for years.
Usually shopping at Dick Blick is an online thing for me. It’s a different animal when you’re walking down aisles of stretched canvas that line the entire wall and go up ten feet in the air – and that was just the first floor. On the second floor, I found the Golden Paints section, brushes for days, and a paper aisle that made me gasp. I literally walked around so long that the security guard started looking at me funny. It was time for me to buy something or it was going to get weird.
What to get? What could I board a plane with? How does TSA feel about scissors? I picked up a Crescent Rendr lay flat, no show thru drawing pad. Supposedly, you could use any type of pen, even a sharpie, and you wouldn’t see it on the backside of the paper. That way you could get more out of your sketchbook. I had wanted a large Moleskin, but thought what the hell and picked it up. Then I grabbed some tools from my wish list: Copic multi-liners, a couple Molotow paint pens and a Liquitex paint pen. I actually had to ask someone to unlock the cabinet for those and then they carried them to the register for me. What service! You even had to show an ID to purchase them. No young hooligans were going to deface the city until they were old enough to at least have a steady hand.
I walked out with my bag of goodies, headed straight to the Art Institute of Chicago and sat down on a bench in the sculpture garden. It was the perfect start to what turned out to be an awesome weekend in the Windy City with my uncles, new friends, good food and lots of fun. Now that I am back home, I’ve had the opportunity to use my new products and I couldn’t be happier. Especially with the sketchbook. Even after several layers of ink, the back of the page shows no evidence of bleed through and is cleaner than my hands ever will be. So, cheers and until next time – stay classy Chicago.