Anatomy of a Desk

Posted on by Marnie Galloway

1. Rapidograph Pens (or, as an insightful and clearly experienced employee at my local art supply store called them, "pain in the ass pens"). I embrace tiny lines for the drawings and need tiny pens.

2. Music, podcasts or other narrative noises. For this project, I purchased a 19 hour audio book on Siberia. Both informative AND bleak!

3. Snack. Note the mug of tea and the neatly clustered stems that were once a pile of delicious dried figs.

4. Horny Toad Paper Weights (a wedding gift from my Texan father). Standing in constant vigilance and silent judgment if I ever stray from my work to the tempting, if unfulfilling, world of the internet.

5. Metal ruler. For straight guide lines, though all lines are ultimately inked free-hand.

6. Tiny cup for ink & brushes. For filling in larger areas of the drawing. Since I over-control everything, the preferred brush is the miniscule size "00."


Fortunately, this set up is working well. I have completed the first page of the book, a minor miracle after so many weeks of hemming and hawing, and now I am barreling forward into the second with full abandon. This is a welcome change: I had been circling my work with complete frustration for a good month, throwing every hour I could spare towards working on this book with no satisfying results. After venting complaints last week to a few trusted ears, 3 people in the same day asked me what I thought the illustrations should look like, if the current drawings were not "it." For the life of me, I was baffled: I realized I only had negative definitions of what it shouldn't be, and a few unhelpful and vague ideals in the positive ("lush" comes to mind). I looked at inspiration images I'd gathered, I paged through favorite books, browsed the sites of inspiring artists, and realized that my "ideal" was some impossible, contradictory mixture of everything. Gouache paintings and etchings, silk screen prints and pen drawings and digital illustrations all were muddled in the back of my mind as ideal styles. This realization was liberating, and I set to work on drawing the way that I know how to draw, not echoing or aspiring towards an impossible ideal.

And so I return to work; the horny toads are looking at me.