For many a decade, I’ve been pretty boring when it comes to art supplies. In the latter part of high school, I discovered disposable felt-tip pigment pens. Micron is the most prominent make of them, but I’ve used many others like Zig, Faber-Castell Pitt Pens, Staedtler, etc. Up until then, I thought the “proper” way to do pen and ink was dip (crowquill) pen and/or brush. I mean, that’s what the high-school art teachers or other gatekeepers would tell me. But once I discovered tech pens, there was no looking back.
And there is a beauty in these cheap tech pens. They can run anywhere from two to four bucks each, and when you’re done you get another one. It’s not as environmentally responsible as a refillable tech pen like the Rapidograph. But around 1998 I spent about a day’s wages to buy a set of Rapidographs and never could get them to work properly. Yet for about twenty five bucks I can get a few Microns, a pencil and eraser, a sketchbook, and a pad of Bristol board, all the supplies needed for pen-and-ink illustration or making comics. And this is the way I did things for twenty-five years.
Then Inktober 2019 got me excited about art in a way that I hadn’t been in awhile. I decided to experiment and branch out. I got a selection of color brush pens to play with. Aside from a few forays with colored pencils, the way I had added color to my work was via Photoshop. It was nice to add color without the aid of computers. I also picked up a fountain pen and brush pen for drawing.
These new tools have treated me well. I was using my Micron-style tech pens less and less, but there were still times I needed them. But I was getting uneasy about the whole disposable nature of them. I was hesitant about trying Rapidographs again due to the prohibitive costs. 1 Then I was turned onto Copic Multiliners. I knew about Copic’s markers, which are highly coveted by some artists. (And also pretty pricey.) I did not know they also made tech pens. They have disposable ones like Microns, but the SP line with aluminum barrels are refillable! They aren’t cheap (at least ten dollars each), but a good refillable pen usually isn’t. The tips are felt tip like Microns, and also replaceable if they wear out. I picked up a few and relegated the Microns to the backup pile. The Multiliner SPs are working good so far.
As for fountain pens, I picked up a couple Platinum “Preppy” style pens. They feature a nice fine (0.3 line) which is my preferred drawing-pen width. But the big draw is Platinum Carbon ink, a waterproof pigment-based type. I was using a converter with permanent ink in the MUJI pen I was using for drawing, but the Carbon ink comes in cartridges. 2 This makes things easier, especially if I’m travelling–I can just put a couple extra cartridges in the bag and not worry about leaking.
As for sketchbooks, last time I mentioned that due to Leuchtturm discontinuing their A6 sized sketchbook, I had been trying out Art Talens, a cheaper alternative. It turns out that the paper doesn’t work too well with my fountain pens. If I didn’t wait at least two hours for drying, the ink could smudge, especially if I put an eraser to it. So much for going cheaper. Thankfully I found a couple places that still had the A6 sized Leuchtturm sketchbooks on clearance, so I stocked up. The supply isn’t going to last forever, so when it does I’ll go with either Stillman and Brin or HandBook Co.
Getting excited about art supplies again gets me excited about art. I’ve been consistently drawing on a daily basis since January 1st. It wasn’t a conscious decision or resolution, it just happened. I hope to keep it up for as long as possible. I’m sure there’ll be some day or two gaps, and that’s okay. But when I draw on a regular basis, I get better at art and feel better. And feeling better is going to be a big goal in 2022.
I’m sure I’ll be trying out some new art supplies from time to time. And I hope to share my discoveries here. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
1 Plus, the proper way to hold and store Rapidographs is vertical, i.e. standing up. Since I hold my pens/pencils at a 45 degree angle and keep them stored in my bag, the vertical storage and use wouldn’t work for me.
2 They also sell it in bottles, but I’d need to get the appropriate converter to use it that way.