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How are the Holders Holding Up? // A.C

How are the Holders Holding Up? // A.C
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While searching for photos of my delinquent TN for my last essay, I realized there were some other recurring analog characters I have not yet acknowledged. These are the steadfast bags and pouches which carry my stationery and art supplies, quietly making daily life just a little bit more convenient and aesthetically pleasing. This month, let’s take it easy with a photo essay/roll call of these handsome containers!

First up in both size and age is the TSL Engineer Bag XS. Friends who knew I was custom ordering this expected me to get black canvas (blame my dark aura) but I wanted to get something that would nicely blend into my light, warm-toned workspace. I went with a bottom paint stripe color that reminds me of both iced coffee lattes and my dog. 

Photos from when the bag was new in Summer 2019 shock me because of the fresh pinkness of the nude leather compared to the caramelized, orangey tan it is now. I’d thought it wouldn’t age much without the wear and tear of travel, but the California sun had different plans. Once lockdown began, I converted the Engineer from day-trip bag into work buddy. I assigned it to hold larger items like my big sketchbook, reference books and noise-cancelling headphones, plonked it down in a niche next to my desk, and basically never moved it again. This did have consequences…working long hours next to a bright window means I live in fear of getting sunburned and/or tanned only on the left side of my body. This has not (so far) come to pass, but one of the bag’s D-ring attachments very apparently took the hit. So sorry. Thank you for your service.

Next is the Engineer Pouch in Kelp. Sturdy enough to stand on its own, yet flexible enough to hold a surprising amount, it’s become a “stationery center” for all the notebooks I use and move around the apartment with often: TN Regular, TN Passport, morning pages MD notebook and Hobonichi 5-year. Although the color scheme is muted, it vividly reminds me of lunch breaks spent looking out at the beach back when I worked a part-time job at a seaside museum. There are some faint, lightened flecks on the canvas, probably from using chemicals too close to the pouch while cleaning my desk. Can’t say I mind—it looks a little like sea spray.

The newest addition is the Pen Roll with its charming William Morris Strawberry Thief bird design. I’ve come to really enjoy how the small moment it takes to unbuckle the strap and unroll the supplies gives the brain just a little bit of a signal and space to settle into the idea that “ah yes, work is beginning now”. 


I received this as a gift in the thick of painting up to ten big illustrations a week, so I knew from the beginning there was simply no way I’d keep the interior canvas pristine. During that crazy time, tools were sorted by function into pockets for pencilling, linework, large washes, lettering and miscellaneous effects (i.e. splatter textures—hence the battered-looking toothbrush). Thankfully, careful spot-cleaning has removed most of the ink marks and scuffs from the chaos. Nowadays, things are more relaxed and I use the roll to store a smaller inventory of brushes and pens.

I don’t know if it’s the satisfaction of organizing the essentials into cozy homes, a desperation to take serotonin wherever I can get it, or some low-key but powerful charisma inherent to these bags themselves thanks to The Superior Labor’s craft and care. But even simply reaching into these containers for my things day after day adds up to a pleasant, soothing sort of ritual and appreciation. Whatever sun, chemical, or ink chaos the days ahead have in store, I’ll hold on to that.

Text and photos by: A.C. Esguerra

Where to find A.C. : instagram @blueludebar

Read other stories by A.C. : Here

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