My Pen Collection: Must Haves for Type Designers

Saturday, October 14, 2017

If you know me, you know that I have a slight obsession with pens. If you don't, well, now you do! For as long as I can remember I'd always be buying new pens; glittery gel pens (that took an eternity to dry), ones with fluffy bobbles on the end (that ran out after two uses), multi-coloured ink ones (that changed colour as you wrote and you could see the coloured ink). It got to the point where I had to have seperate pencil cases for each type of pen because I simply couldn't stop buying them, and then I'd be too scared to use them because "what if they run out and I need that particular pen in an emergency?!"

In recent years, however, my "taste" in pens (hot tip: don't taste ink, it's not very nice) has gone a little bit more "classy" as my love for typography and hand typography has developed and blossomed. Now I collect an array of finepoint pens and brush pens, and actually (!!!) use them constantly. Today's blog post is showing you all my pen collection, and the "must have" pens for people starting off with typographic illustrations!

Regular Finepoint
0.1-0.5mm Finepoint pack

This is your standard set of finepoint pens that everyone should start off with. Staedtler is a great company for finepoints and they do a handy pack of five to start you off with; they glide really easily, the nibs don't break (as long as you're not crazy with them), the ink doesn't run out too fast and they're even waterproof so mixing media with watercolours is no problem with these!

Finest of Finepoint
Staedtler 0.05 & 0.1mm
Zig Drawing Pen 0.1

My next must-have pen is an ultra-fine-point, so something along the lines of a 0.05pt. I find these to be fantastic for stippling (dotted designs) and for miniature works. You need to be careful with the finer point pens as the nib is a lot more fragile.

Brush Pens
TomBow Dual Brush
Zig Art & Graphic Twin Pen
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen B

If you're at all on the typography, calligraphy or design hashtags on Instagram or on Pinterest, you'd be well aware that script typography is massive at the moment, and brush pens are the way to go. I opt for the TomBow Dual Brushes as they glide very easily, have fantastic pigmentation and last ages; because they're double-ended, you can do a combination of styles in your work. These ones are water based which is great if you want to get those gradient/ombré effects; you can also mix colours by scribbling on a plate/plastic/palette and then absorb that ink with another pen to create a bright mixture.

Zig also does a dual brush pen, however I have never found them to glide as good as the TomBow ones. Faber-Castell also does a brush pen equivalent which has a more firmer, felt nib, however I find the nibs on these to fray quickly, but they're a great starting point.

Calligraphy Pen
Pilot Parallel Pen 3.8mm
Artline Calligraphy Pen 3.0mm

Calligraphy has been something I'm starting/trying to get into at the moment, and it's a very careful and sometimes tedious process. I started off using an Artline pen as they are cheap and easier to navigate with whilst learning, however I have made the leap over to a "proper" calligraphy pen which has a long handle for an easier grip and is able to have ink swapped out for different colours.

Once I'm ready, I'm going to make another leap over to those even more "proper" calligraphy pens that require being dipped into a pot of ink and have the nibs seperate from the handle. Although I don't think I am quite there yet!


So, what do you think? Do you do hand-typography or illustrations with these pens? Do you use any other pens that I haven't mentioned? Have I persuaded you to extend your stationery collection?

I hope you enjoyed this post; I'd love to hear from some fellow typographers on the questions above, whether you're new to the art or not! And if any of you have any design/type/art based blog post requests, do let me know!

- Louise x

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