The ideal pen can be used to write, draw, and manifest all kinds of creative ideas on different kinds of paper. Pencils, ballpoints, fountain pens, dip pens, fineliners, markers with fine or thick felt-tips, charcoal, paint, crayons… So many possible vehicles to transcribe new concepts to paper.

The Rotring Artpen is a kind of hybrid version for both writing and drawing, originally designed for calligraphy. I was allowed to borrow a team mate’s pen during a collaborative art project, and have since written and drawn most of my work with this particular type of pen. It has a ‘Fine’ sized rounded tip and interior space for two ink cartridges of black ink.

The pen has many imperfections: the ink from cheap refill cartridges blotches and staines, and does not combine with water colours at all, my hands are regularly stained, etchings on sketching paper take a disproportionally long time to dry, and the ink easily bleeds through thinner types of paper. Each time the pen accidentally drops to the ground, I’m worried that the internal filling mechanism will break again. This is the second replacement pen in a six-year period.

Even though the pen is not faultless, it does have perfect balance. A perfect physical balance, the way the pen lies in my hand. A perfect mental balance, with the ink stains on my hands showing I’ve had a particularly productive day; new ideas conceived and noted. And a perfect emotional balance, between writing and drawing. Seeing the pen can be used for both, I can seamlessly transition between different areas of interest.

Many times, when I pick up the pen, it is to jot down a new idea, a new insight, a new concept, recorded for posterity. And those ideas might not be executed, insights may change, concepts might not work out – yet they existed. Which always reminds me of this beautiful poem from The Rubáiyát by Omar Khayyám:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.