Time changes our habits. That’s what life is. One of my, and a lot of other people’s, habits is looking for things. Whatever things you happen to be interested in. Of course the biggest change in looking for things is the internet. That changed all of our habits. Search engines of all kinds have made it easier to find stuff no matter what that stuff is. No leg work involved.

The first thing I was recently looking for was new music. Like most people I don’t listen to as much music as I used to. When you’re young music finds you but as you get older you have to go find music. That’s a lot of effort so most people don’t bother. It’s easier to listen to stuff you already know you like in the time you have to listen. I only bother sometimes. When I was young I used to find new music by listening to the radio. I had two or three stations in my rotation and there was always new stuff to be heard. I don’t listen to the radio much anymore. Who does?

The other way I found new music was to browse at record stores. This really depended on hearing things on the radio and then going to look for that thing or something related to it. None of the record stores I went to had listening stations so it was all about recognizing names and styles from the info on the album. That and checking the section of the stores that housed the genres of music that I liked. It was hit or miss and it sucked to buy an album that I would end up not liking.

As you might suspect these days my looking for music is all online. Maybe once a year, as I was doing this week, I listen to samples at iTunes of lots of songs to try and find some new ones that I like. For the last two years I’ve managed to get about 25 new songs per year. That’s it. And that takes a lot of time to do. Not unpleasant time but time.

The second thing I was searching for this week was conté crayon. I have been doing a bunch of my “Monsters on Comics” drawings and that takes white conté crayon to do. (Monster Blog) I’ve never used much of the stuff but had a couple of sticks of it stuck in a drawer since who knows when. I used up those sticks and went to my local art store to look for more. I found some but when I got it home and tried to use it I found it unusable. The crayon was so hard it wouldn’t draw on the paper. It was like rubbing a stick on paper. It was supposed to be the exact same softness as my old conté crayon but it wasn’t. So I went online to search for another brand that might be softer. Half an hour later I was nothing but frustrated. Turns out that nobody else must be using conté crayon because all the art supply sites only had the same brand my local store had. At least the search didn’t take as long as the old days when I’d drive from store to store or travel down to NYC to find something.

The third thing I search for is comics. I don’t do this as much as I once did because almost all the comics I buy these days are new ones. That’s always how it’s been with me but back in my younger days I would sometimes look through the back issue boxes of comic shops for interesting comics to buy. Now it’s once or twice a year that some old comic catches my interest and I look up how much it is on eBay or on one of the online comic book stores. Usually I end up getting a bunch of cheap dollar comics that fill in some holes in my collection that I’ve never felt the urgent need to fill. This and that. Not even stuff that I’ve always coveted but stuff that I find interesting in that moment of searching. I’ve been looking at filling holes in my “Strangers in Paradise” and “Bone” collections this week but there is no rush. The issues I need are cheap and neither series is in high demand. I’ll get them some day.

One other thing I’ve been searching for lately has no antecedent in the pre-internet world for me. That’s photographic negatives. I like using photographs as the basis for some of my art and normally I take my own photos but on occasion I like to use the images that other people make as a starting point. It started in 1999 when I bought some negatives of dancers in Paris from 1964 (Paris Photo Blog). It took me 15 years to ever do anything with them but I thought they were pretty cool the moment I saw them and they gave me the idea that I could work with old negatives.

I prefer old negatives to old photos because they give you more detail and also because they’re probably orphaned images. People sell copies of photos because that’s their business but if a person is selling negatives it usually means they have no use for the image anymore. Or maybe never had one because negatives are often sold by dealers who bought them at an estate sale or some such. I bought one set from a photographer who was selling his own negatives and image rights but the other stuff I’ve bought from antique (or junk) dealers.

This week I bought a new strip of three negatives of an artists’s model. I was looking at negatives on eBay and I ran into a whole bunch of negatives of an artist’s model from the 1940s to the 1950s. They were from an illustrator named James Schuker (who I’ve never heard of). The seller had purchased the contents of Schukner’s studios back in the early 1980s before Schukner had died and was now selling the negatives of the photos taken as reference. There were a ton of them. Most of them had bid on them but I picked one out that I liked and bid $15 and won it. Much like the Paris negatives I find them a fascinating bit of history. Images lost to time that hardly anybody even knew existed. Maybe I’ll be able to do something with them.

So that’s what and how I’ve been looking for things this week. Mostly sitting in a chair. Times change.