Posts filed under Three Questions

Three Questions With Matthew Morse

Folded nib guru. Champion of Slack. King of kindness. These are all ways I describe Matthew Morse. In short, he’s awesome. My thanks to Matthew for answering Three Questions.

1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils and paper play in your day to day life? 

I’m a marketing guy and graphic designer. When I’m not doing the corporate grind from 9-5, I’m designing book covers from 5-9 That means I spend a lot of time on a computer. I try really hard to put my design ideas down on paper before going to a computer, but tight deadlines don’t always afford me that luxury, especially when designing book covers. Regardless of what I’m doing professionally, though, I spend a little bit of time each day (maybe an hour or so) playing with pens, inks, nibs, papers… I incorporate multiple inks into pieces to see what effects I’ll get. I introduce heat or water or pressure or gravity to see where my stuff will go. I don’t get to do any of this when I’m hashing out a logo (at least not yet) or a book cover or a flyer about insurance products so it’s really important to me to take some time to myself with no direction or communication to put my hands on something tangible and create something a little more organic. When they’re not being used for creating new projects for my clients, they’re being used to give me a break from the digital monotony, even if it ends up in the trash (which my wife hates because she thinks they should all go on the refrigerator). In that way, analog tools are huge for me despite the digital world in which I work.

2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

My most favorite product that I’m using right now (and have been for a while) is the folded nib available at PaperInkArts with a crappy wood holder that I’ve had for years. They’re like $7 each and I typically buy them a handful at a time because I tend to mess them up. They hold a ton of ink which makes them so fun for exploring fountain pen inks, especially those that shade really well like Iroshizuku. The curved edge provides an endless assortment of line widths and variation. It throws down so much ink and creates such a unique style that I haven’t found anything yet to compete.

I’m also using a really nice leather cover from One Star Leather that was designed for a Hobonichi A6 planner, but I’ve got it loaded with an A6 Apica notebook that I picked up. The One Star cover is ridiculously well-made from amazing leather with incredible attention to detail. I rarely leave home without it and most of the time it just rides around in my car waiting on me to drop something awesome in it. It’s seriously such an amazing piece that I may never buy another notebook cover ever again. Ever.

The Nock Co. Fodderstack is always with me as well, loaded with a handful of DotDash Notecards. It’s dirty and is probably starting to smell a little funky at this point, but I don’t care. It’s like the teddy bear I had when I was a kid. I can’t be without it and don’t want to. And I will go fisticuffs with anyone that tries to take it from me. And that goes for my Lookout as well, which is always close to the Fodderstack.

My favorite pen right now, despite all of the other amazing pens I have from amazing pen makers small and large, is the Karas Kustoms Ink. How a company known for hotrod parts has managed to create such an awesome pen is far beyond me, but I just love the things to death. They’re balanced, comfortable and indestructible. And they use awesome metals like bronze and copper and aluminum. Then they finish them in rad colors (or no colors) so you’re bound to find one you love no matter what. Come to think of it, anything KK is making is worth throwing your hard-earned cash at.

3. What creation or design of yours are you most proud of?

I know this will sound conceited, but I promise it’s not… The design I’m most happy with right now is my own website. It has been a long time since I’ve had an online presence outside of a Tumblr account. I got so tied up in work for my clients that I neglected to get myself out there to bring in new clients. Getting a website put together with my work on it was a long process and one that I put off for years. But I’m really proud of where my brand is right now and seeing it live and seeing people react to it, good or bad or indifferent, really makes me excited and hopeful for my future as a designer, calligrapher and illustrator. 

Posted on June 6, 2015 and filed under Three Questions.

Three Questions With Brian Greene from Office Supply Geek

If there is a cool, must-have new office supply you can be sure that Brian Greene has found it. He has been at it for years at Office Supply Geek, a blog that is one of the stalwarts of the community. My thanks to Brian for answering Three Questions.

1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

From a practical perspective, I just learn and remember much better when I'm actually writing things down.  I think my brain takes it do a different level because sometimes I will be trying to remember something that I wrote down in my notes, and the way I start looking for it is by thinking to myself "Hey you wrote that with your Pilot Vanishing Point and Pelikan Edelstien Aventurine ink" then I can scan my notes for some pretty thinly written green text and hone in on the content I was looking for that way.  For that reason I try to alternate what pen and ink I use between different days or topics to help create those visual markers for my brain to fall back on when I'm trying to find something.

From a more aesthetic perspective, I just really enjoy the experience of writing on some great paper like my Levenger Circa Rhodia refills with a great fountain pen, usually one of my Pelikan's as of late.  Its a great experience, and I also just enjoy the look of the whole package of great ink being put on nice paper by a smooth fountain pen nib.  

2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

This definitely spans a wide range of things so I'll try and reign it in a bit.  If we were to stick strictly to office supplies, I'd say its my new Pelikan M805 Stresemann which is just an amazing pen. Its larger than most of my other fountain pens, so it has a bit of visual presence when you look at it.  The elegant striped pattern with the black and silver accents also add to that visual appeal for me.  It also gets a place in my Nock Co. Hightower, I carry 3 pen cases on a daily basis, but I love the Hightower because it keeps my favorite fountain pens safe and easy to get at.  The Hightower is my home for what I consider to be my core fountain pen rotation.  My other pen/pencil cases are more of the mass storage types for things like my numerous Uniball UM 151s and Jetstreams that are more every day beater pens. 

From a technology perspective, its definitely my new Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook.  Although its got Windows 8.1 loaded on it which isn't ideal, the laptop itself is super thin with an metal shell and so light and powerful that its hard to believe how relatively inexpensive it was.  I've been spending a ton of time working on the website using the laptop, but one of my favorite things on it (and my Samsung Galaxy S5) is the Microsoft OneNote application.  Its essentially electronic note taking application that has a ton of screen capture, image capture, text search, organizational and other functionality.  I don't know that I could ever go strictly electronic in my note taking, but I think OneNote is probably the best experience you will find in that category.  I'm sure plenty of readers here will say that Evernote is better though, but I never had much luck with it and I'm pretty dug in with my OneNote notebooks now so its a keeper for me that I've come to rely on daily in my personal and work life.

3. What post are you the most proud of on your blog?

I would honestly say its two different posts on two different ends of the spectrum.  

On one side its the Sharpie Liquid Pencil Review that I did because its honestly one of the most disappointing products I've used and between the reader comments on that review and other emails and feedback I've gotten its really nice to know that I've saved more than one person from wasting their money on what seems like a product that was a good idea that was not quite ready for prime time yet.  I also take a lot of pride in that review because its easy to write a glowing review of a great product, but I think it requires a good deal of sensitivity, objectivity, and documentation if you are going to point out the various (and fatal) flaws in a product.  I've had the occasional person ask in a less than positive way if I just write nice things for companies that send me free stuff, and I usually point them to this review to answer that question since the review sample was provided directly from the PR folks at Sharpie.  I do find it ironic that this was one of the last review items that I received from Sharpie, but I think that is because they seem to have cut their social media efforts, and not because of my negative review of their product.  In fact they actually responded with some positive feedback that I shared on the review as well.

On the other end of the spectrum is my review of my Saddleback Leather Briefcase that I did a few years ago.  Because it is such an expensive item I thought it was important to include lots of pictures and as much detail as possible.  Its one thing to drop $3-$4 on a pen that might not work out for you, but with an item like this, a reader looking for a review with as much written and photographic detail as possible so they can be comfortable with their purchase, or with their decision not to ultimately purchase the item.  Regardless of their purchase decision, if someone has read my review before deciding on such an expensive item, its genuinely nice to know that I've hopefully helped them make a more educated decision on an item like this.

Posted on May 2, 2015 and filed under Three Questions.

Three Questions With Elizabeth From No Pen Intended

Elizabeth is an OG pen reviewer. She has been killing it for years at No Pen Intended where she reviews it all. Maybe by posting this today I can talk her into showing up at the Atlanta Pen Show next weekend? My thanks to Elizabeth for answering Three Questions.

1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

Pens and paper are an essential part of both my identity and my ability to function. I probably spend as much time deciding what pen(s) and notebook(s) to take with me as normal people spend deciding what outfit to wear. I write to think. I write to plan, and to remember. I even write to problem solve, from time management itineraries to budgets to the rare occasions that I have to attempt to do a little computer programming (it's nice being able to write out my thoughts and note my points of confusion without being constantly judged by little debugger pop-up boxes). I write for work, for my own mental health, and sometimes just because I want to look at some pretty ink on the page.

2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

For all-purpose note-taking, thinking-writing, and any other reasons I have to expend ink, I love my Leuchtturm 1917 medium ruled notebook. It has the best balance between drying time and ability to handle fountain pen ink. I'm really into my new Nock Lookout for pen carry, but it's a challenge choosing only 3 pens. Favorite pen(s) is a category always in flux. Right now, I'm using my new Lamy Wild Rubin with 14K F nib, and my Lamy 2000 with the broad stub nib I ground when I was feeling crazy for many, many consecutive and non-consecutive hours upon hours. I'm also perpetually in love with my 8-oz. KeepCup for my morning cappuccino, and my 16-oz. Tervis tumbler for drinking inordinate amounts of tea throughout the day.

3. What post are you the most proud of on your blog?

This question was the most difficult to answer. All my posts are about equal in terms of the quality and effort I put into them. I went back through all my posts to see if any one in particular stood out, whether it be the pictures, the drawings, the tone of my writing, and I ended up with a short list of about 10 posts that I really enjoyed...which is still several too many to be an answer to this question. I'm not necessarily most proud of any particular one post, but my Uni-ball Jetstream 0.5mm ballpoint review is pretty good, for a really great and accessible pen. And I link back to it just about every chance I get, since I love the Jetstream so much.

Posted on April 11, 2015 and filed under Three Questions.