May 17, 2017

Stationery: Pens And Pencils

If you're familiar with my previous posts on this blog, or you know I'm an illustrator/comics artist, this won't come as a surprise, but – I love stationery! And it's not because of the graphic design and other arty stuff I do to occupy my time. My love of stationery goes right back to childhood. When my family emigrated to Australia in 1987, during our stop at Singapore Airport my mum asked my sister and I to choose a small treat from one of the gift shops there. My sister chose a pocket-sized book about the Pink Panther – a book being a useful thing to have on a long flight – but I made the slightly less practical choice of a dark green Stabilo Boss highlighter (the type pictured here).

Even before that I enjoyed drawing with broad-tipped marker pens, even whiteboard markers. And from that came a lifelong appreciation of stationery. I love it all: from the humble pencil and its various grades, to ball-point pens and fountain pens, to coloured markers, brushes, paints, rulers, stencils, and various weights of paper. Not to mention the lesser-used items such as hole punchers, pencil sharpeners, staplers and drawing pins.

I produce most of my work using a computer. In a digital-obsessed world, I think it's important to swing back to those often-overlooked and ubiquitous items that are found on many an office or artists' desk. You can't beat the tactile feel of pens, paper, and other necessities. It is these items I'm posting about here – notable examples from my personal collection. First up: pens and pencils.

On the left here are five interesting pens (well, interesting to me, anyway). At the top is one of those novelty pens that lights up with a blue light. I call it a spy pen, and it was given to me in 2015. I also had one a decade earlier. There's a yellow Sheaffer fountain pen I use fairly regularly with a chunky barrel. Below that is a pale blue Paper Mate 'Tandem', a ballpoint/mechanical pencil combo that first came out in the late '80s. I was given this one in 1989 in primary school, and I still use the pencil. Then come a couple more novelty pens: one from my dad's old workplace in Overseal, England and the other from Britannia airlines – it was bought for me on board a flight to Spain in 1987. So that green highlighter wasn't my first plane-related pen purchase after all.

Next is half a set (my sister got the other half) of Berol Notewriter fine-point markers which were given to me in 1997. If you look closely at the bottom of the box they came in, you can see they were manufactured in December 1982. They still worked when I got them, and they still work now after 25 years (although I haven't used them constantly, of course). All the teachers at my first school in England used these. Berol supplied to the Queen – not hard to see why.

Can you read Japanese on that brown pen? It says Penteru hagaki fude pen (tsuin). It is made by the top Japanese pen company Pentel, and hagaki means postcard, so I'm guessing that's what most Japanese people would use it for – new year's greeting cards and the like. Fude means brush, so it's a brush pen to help you write in that authentic brushstroke style, and tsuin is just the English word twin: it has a much finer (and non-brushy) point on the other end. I don't know if these were sold outside Japan, but I got this one when I was there, in 2001. (I used it to write a thankyou card to one of the teachers at my school for lending me her bike, which went down well!) The three pencils are just reliable ones I use, in particular the blue Staedtler 4H Mars Lumograph, most excellent for my comic pencilling, and I haven't needed to sharpen it in over 15 years. The purple one is a 2H Mitsubishi pencil. And you thought they only made cars, huh.

Next time: more stationery. Paint and brushes, to be precise.

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