Disclaimer: I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post. They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase. I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.
It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over, but it is…and as the summer draws closed, I’m returning to my sense of connectedness, both online and via snail mail. This topic came to mind when I was thinking about my Bullet Journaling 101 post where I addressed some of the most frequently asked questions and statements made with respect to this journey. One of the questions discussed was on pens, specifically finding a pen that doesn’t bleed or ghost. Well, the answer was (and still is!) that it’s not the pen, it’s the paper you’re writing on…but there is a sort of sister question that goes along with this, and it’s one I didn’t address. That is: What’s your go to pen? And boy wow, have I gone through some pens lately! So, with that in mind I decided to share some of my go-to pens, past and present, and answer a few more pen FAQs along the way.
When you’re deciding what pen to use you do need to keep your paper quality in mind if ghosting or bleeding is going to bother you. Personally, I don’t mind minimal ghosting, but when it overpowers the dot grid on the back of the page, it’s too much for me. The other thing to think about, and for some reason this is rarely talked about, is longevity. Ink does eventually break down, fade, and become unreadable over time. Things like exposure to the elements or light will definitely hasten that process, but if you’re like me, you want to make a lasting impression. That is one of the reasons I use archival ink pens for the meat of my bullet journals – and by meat, I mean the entries themselves, not so much the frills.
While regular ink, most fountain pen ink (unless it’s archival), and gel ink will always smear if it gets wet (like that day my water bottle opened up in my backpack and much swearing and panic ensured), archival ink doesn’t. This is also especially important to note if you’re trying to highlight or use marker over your gel or water-based ink notes! Pro Tip: If you insist on using a gel or water based ink, lay the marker down first and then write in your highlight. Otherwise, no matter how long you let the ink sit, it’s smear city and, lets face it, no one likes that place.
I think that I should also note, before we get into the pens themselves, that most of the markers used for adding brush lettering or decorative elements to our journals, including Crayola and Tombow, are water based. Alcohol based markers are definitely a smear-proof marker, but most paper, even a higher GSM, won’t stand up to them and you’ll bleed through at least one, if not more pages. That’s why I use archival ink for what I consider the important stuff, but have accepted that my decorative elements and lettering will eventually fade or wash away in the event of another Great Water Bottle Incident.
Now then, on to the pens!
If you’ve been a follower for a while, you’ll probably recall that my go-to was always the Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen, size S. I love(d) this pen above all others and touted it as a sacred tool for bullet journaling. It fit comfortably in my hand, dried reasonably quickly so that I was able to use my Tombow markers over it for highlighting, and usually, one pen would last me 4 months (occasionally longer). This is a felt-tipped pen (well, ok, they all are…) and I have a heavy hand, so durability is really important to me. Over time though, I noticed that the nibs tended to break really quickly. I could have one pen last me 4 months, then the next 3 last a week tops, before I got the sweet nibbed pen again. I’m not sure whether or not Faber Castell scaled back on their QC as the use of this particular pen began to boom as a result of the bullet journaling industry, or it was a long running bad batch, or what…but I hated the waste – both in money and resources. Having said that, it’s still an overall good pen.
Next up, the Pigma Micron. Micron Artist Pens are archival and they come in a wider variety of colours and nib sizes than the Faber Castell PITT Artist Pens. They’re also a little cheaper if bought individually at Michael’s Arts and Crafts Stores (sorry, I can’t speak to other stores’ selection or prices for this pen), or online at Jetpens.com – my go to for pens! . I bought a few of these and didn’t break a single nib. That, however, is about the only really good thing I have to say about them. They’re a fine pen, but they hurt my hand because they’re not quite as streamlined as the Faber Castell pens. The big downside? While the nibs may stand up to pressure and not break, they wear down fast. One Micron lasts me about 10 days on average. Now, as I noted, I have a heavy hand – but I haven’t had that experience with any other felt-tipped pen, ever. I used 4 in one month! So, these are definitely not my favourite but I do know that quite a few people in the bullet journal, art, and stationery communities in general really do swear by them.
Finally…the Copic Multiliner/Multiliner SP. I saw the Multiliner SP in a quick lettering video and fell in love. So naturally I ordered it immediately, along with the disposable Mutliliner pack for comparison. I have to tell you guys, the Multiliner SP absolutely blew me away. First of all, you can order replacement nibs and ink cartridges from Jetpens.com. It ends up being so, so much cheaper to order the replacements than to buy an individual new pen, no matter which brand. Second, the pen is super comfortable in my hand. And finally, the nibs last and have not yet broken on me. I also haven’t had to replace an ink cartridge yet, and I’ve been using this pen for 3 months now – maybe a bit longer. Clearly, this pen of the three is hands down my favourite.
So, where to buy? Well, the PITT and Micron artist pens can be purchased at most art supply, and arts and crafts stores in the US. You can also find them on Amazon, although if you’re going to order online, I’d highly recommend JetPens. They’re cheaper and they’re fast! The Copic Multiliner/Multiliner SP can be purchased on Amazon, the Copic website, or, again, JetPens.
So tell us, do you have a favourite pen? What is it and where can we find it? Why is it your favourite and what do you look for in a pen? Leave a comment below and share your pen happiness!