It’s nostalgia, tangible, analogue, the way I feel about loose-leaf paper. Let’s broaden this to include spiral, graph, and legal as well as global varieties of lined paper. For me, looseleaf is the mixtape of office supplies.
In the casual image-sharing space of Instagram, artists post drawings on notebook paper in pencil or ballpoint, some dashed off, some labored over. These drawings may never see the wall of a gallery, may never know the searching gaze of an art viewer or critic, but they reach me.
A drawing on looseleaf is casual and intimate, humble and sincere.
The familiar space of loose-leaf–vertical pink margin on the left, blue horizontal lines descending wide-ruled or college-ruled, three holes embedded in the margin–is as much a part of the architecture of my imagination as the dimensions of the corner basketball court, train tracks or a chainlink fence in the neighborhood, things you’ve seen so many times you don’t see them any more.
My memories of certain handwriting, my own and my classmates’ haunt these lines. Loose-leaf recalls school day afternoons, the agitated boredom, sketching the field outside the window, sketching beyond Algebra. I survived the tedium in these margins, drawing clocks and faces, band names and lyrics. I developed a taste for margins…
And do students still write on loose-leaf paper? Or pass notes hidden in tightly folded triangles? Do teachers scold them for turning in homework with the shredded spiral edge, the rough cousin of loose-leaf?
Occasionally, I still receive letters on loose-leaf (or legal or spiral) though they are rare and precious now. And the drawings on notebook paper that appear in my Instagram feed make the digital, intangible, spread-out world feel almost cozy and filled with classmates, crushes and close friends.