#1 – The perfect black pen
Admittedly, I haven’t found it yet. It’s almost like the perfect, yet elusive, little black dress: it makes you look great all the time, it goes with anything, can be worn anywhere, and never goes out of style.
The black pen is the perfect complement to your pocket sketchbook. Because writing and sketching in pen is, for the most part, permanent, it forces you to spend more time thinking about each word, each stroke that hits the page. Instead of hastily taking five tries to draw a single line that eventually ends up looking more like a haystack, you draw one with precision. Using a black pen to draw and write forces you to be deliberate and intentional. It doesn’t mean that you can’t make mistakes or cross things out, but it does mean that you’re not just slopping lines and words onto a page and thinking that you can always erase them later.
All designers, essentially, are problem-solvers. And problem-solving involves a lot of thinking and sketching. As awesome as computers/tablets are for working out design problems, nothing can ever replace pen and paper. The design process is one that often requires several iterations of the each idea with subtle changes here and there. If you take just a few extra seconds before each stroke, it can ultimately lead to more productive and timely sketching sessions (not to mention, saves paper!).
My sister and I often find ourselves talking and sharing about our creative processes a lot. As a writer, she works through a lot of her own creative problems the same way that I do – with pen and paper. And we’ve found that as different as writing and design might appear, they both require creativity, thoughtfulness, patience, hard work, and a touch of inspiration. And at the core of all that, lies the artist’s black pen – her “paintbrush,” so to speak. I love having a sister who is a writer and not only shares in my love for beautiful and creative things, but who also shares in my quest for the perfect black pen!
I wish I could tell you that we found it. But like I said earlier, it’s elusive and tricky to hunt down. I had these great pens once that I used to get at the drafting store that had tips that were almost like little tiny paintbrushes. I honestly believe that they actually improved my writing and sketching. But within a month, the tips would wear down and you’d have to start writing at awkward angles to get the ink flowing. I abandoned those eventually, but I still think about them every now and then.
Let me show you what I’m using for now.