Business 2 Community makes the case that doodling is an effective tool to improve communication, increase productivity and spur creativity in the workplace.
A Flavorwire article from a couple years ago making its way around social media again shows the hand-drawn/hand-written plot outlines of several famous authors, including J.K. Rowling and Joseph Heller.
The Providence Journal profiles a doodler who developed his craft into a regular business selling pen-and-ink sketches on the US festival circuit.
Inevitably, when people start reminiscing about being kids in school in the 90s, they get around to the topic of the gel pen fad. You know, middle-schoolers decorating the covers of their notebooks with squiggly lines and hearts drawn in sparkly, glittery gel ink.
They wax nostalgic about how all the cool kids in middle school had gel pens, about how fun and exciting they were and how doing homework in bright purple and drawing gel ink tattoos on themselves let them be rebels without, ya know, actually doing anything really crazy.
But the thing is, they talk about gel pens as if they were nothing more than a passing obsession of childhood and have nothing to do now with adult life. Continue reading →
When your favorite inexpensive pen runs out of ink, do you toss it and go buy another one? I know I do this sometimes without even thinking, especially since more pens are so easy to come by around here.
But the reality is, that’s just like throwing away money.
The beauty of refillable pens is that they are, well, refillable. Once you buy the pen, you never have to replace it unless something breaks. When it inevitably runs out of ink, you just pop in a new ink fill and go right back to writing, drawing, doodling, etc.
Think at how much money you save by refilling, instead of replacing.
The Pen Warrior knows how much I love my Pentel EnerGel pens, so when he told me recently that he was sending along a new EnerGel he thought I would like, I got excited.
This new pen, the EnerGel-X retractable, is the pen that Pentel is putting up head-to-head against the Pilot G2. To celebrate the launch, the company has rolled out a huge promotional wave – everything from giving away a car to hosting a special VIP lounge at Lollapalooze earlier this month.
The tagline for the EnerGel-X is, “The future is smooth.”
With all that hype in mind, I happily opened the package from the Pen Warrior and took out my new pen. Continue reading →
In the argument over the best gel ink pens, the Pilot G2 and the Uni Jetstream usually get the most attention. But there’s an overlooked contender that, in our opinion, could beat them both for writing quality and comfort.
That’s the Pentel EnerGel. And, in the EnerGel family, there are two versions that compete for best of the best.
• Normally, we view over-priced pens with a certain amount of disdain. But this pen is just too cool for us to do much sneering. Why? Because this Dunhill Sentryman is covered with a coating of space rock! According to Luxist.com, the pen:
…features an innovative lacquer finish containing authentic crushed black diamonds and meteorite stone for a stunning effect. Continue reading →
Have you ever considered how you sign your name, or the pen you use to do it?
If you’re like a lot of us (including me), your signature is an illegible scrawl that you scratch out in a hurry when you finish a letter, fill out a document, or write a check. You’ve written your name so many times in your life – hundreds, at least, probably thousands – that it’s just a rote process.
Does it really matter what it looks like?
Maybe, maybe not. But there are people who believe signatures communicate a great deal about you, either positive or negative. And, you have to admit, your name is just about the most personal thing you can ever put down on paper.
So, if you’d like to start making a statement with your signature, there are three things you need to consider: the ink, the pen, and the style.
Let’s just go ahead and take ballpoint ink out of the equation right now. It’s bland and sticky and too easy to smudge. Plus, the pressure you have to apply to put ballpoint ink on paper will make ugly indentions you might not want on business documents or correspondence.
For a bold, professional signature, you want to use a good quality gel ink (one that’s not prone to skipping) or a liquid ink of the type found in rollerballs and fountain pens. If you use a liquid ink, make sure to sign your name in a smooth, flowing hand, without hesitations, to avoid leaving blots in your signature.
For professional documents, go with black or blue ink. Black is the preferred colour for many companies and government offices, especially on legal documents, and, in some cases, is actually required. However, since it can be difficult to distinguish between an original signed in black ink and a photocopy, blue will help you easily tell the difference.
If you’re concerned about the security or longevity of your signature,Uni Super Ink – which comes in black, blue and red – is marketed as a safe ink because it’s supposed to be resistant to tampering, fading and running. For fountain pen users, Noodler’s Ink offers several “bulletproof” inks that are known for being all but impossible to remove from paper.
The colour of ink you use for personal documents like letters or journals obviously matters far less. Actually, branding experts even recommend selecting a vibrant colour as a way of establishing your own brand identity. I have a friend who uses only purple ink when she’s writing to friends, so it’s always easy to recognize something from her, whether it’s a letter or a CD she’s labelled.
Use a pen with a medium or broad point for a strong, confident signature.
A fountain pen is an excellent choice for producing a professional signature that has a little extra panache, especially if you use a pen with an italic nib or one with a nice flex nib like the Namiki Falcon. The general consensus seems to be that your signature almost immediately becomes more legible when using a fountain pen. And, you have a broad range of colour choices, even within black and blue.
But, if a fountain pen isn’t practical for all the writing and signing that you do, then a good gel with a broad point will do just fine. You might try a Pilot G2or a Uni-ball Gel Impact, both of which are available with 1.0 mm points. They both offer clean, rich lines and smooth writing for a flowing signature. Just be mindful that broad points lay down more ink, so they dry a little slower.
For your signature to make any sort of statement, it needs to be written in a way that other people can actually read it.
Greg Fox at the DonorPower Blog wrote an interesting piece a few years ago examining the signatures on the fundraising letters he receives from various organizations.
He did not have kind words for those who signed their letters illegibly, writing that potential donors might actually be turned off by that kind of sloppiness.
Signatures like these say, “I’m an Important Person. I’m Too Busy to sign my name so you can read it.” That creates distance between the signer and the donor – and distance is the last thing you want.
He’s got a point. A scrawled signature does have a certain impatience about it that some recipients, either business or personal, could take for arrogance or indifference toward them.
If you’re a person who scrawls, you’ll have to practice to improve the legibility of your signature (and maybe improve your handwriting in general). You’ll also have to remember to slow down when you sign your name, at least until you get used to doing it neatly.
Obviously, your signature should be in cursive, following the basic styles you learned in school, but you also can give it certain flourishes to add your own personality. You can loop the tail of the last letter back to underline your name, or make the first letters of your first and last name bigger than all the other letters, whatever you want.
Now, there are all sorts of handwriting analysts and “graphologists” who claim that your handwriting secretly reveals hidden aspects of your personality. While they have little evidence to support those claims, it can be instructive to see what some of them have to say about certain signature styles.
…if the text and the signature styles are different it suggests that a person’s public life and private life are different. A clear text in the body of writing shows a desire and need to get across ideas; if the signature of the same writer is unreadable then there is reluctance to reveal oneself personally even though the ideas expressed may be very clear.
That actually makes sense.
A highly embellished signature, especially if larger than the body of writing, can indicate underlying feelings of inadequacy. Showy writing reveals a need to be noticed. (Usually extroverts.) As you might guess, it is common to see public figures sign their names just that way. Conversely, tiny unobtrusive signatures, especially when smaller than the text, show a feeling of not wanting to be noticed.
That elaborate, showy signature you practiced in high school or college could be a negative factor in your success. If you are promoting a conservative, forthright image and sign sales letters or literature in a large, sweeping, and barely legible fashion, it sends a confusing message to the recipient.
Nothing screams “unprofessional” like a signature that uses little hearts to dot the I’s.
Bold, in-your-face signatures reflect pride and confidence that may be over the top and interpreted as written by a vain, egotistical person who feels superior to the reader. Remember, the message may be subliminal; the receiver may not consciously realize why he or she is not entirely comfortable with your presentation.
He makes sense, too.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have written a powerful letter to recruit well heeled supporters into a risky, but potentially highly rewarding venture and then, sign your masterpiece with a tiny, left-leaning signature, this could be seen as a lack of confidence. You may well have neutralized many positive points of the letter.
Odd, though, that he seems to saying that you should adjust your signature to fit the message. You’re better off finding one stylish, neat signature and sticking with it.
Hopefully that covers just about everything you need to know to get started shaping your new power signature. Have we left anything out? Let us know if you have any questions, and we’ll see if we can come up with some helpful answers.
Trying to choose the right pen, but confused by all the different labels: ballpoint, liquid ink, gel, hybrid, rollerball? Yeah, we don’t blame you; it can get a little overwhelming.
But that’s good, too, because it means you have plenty of options when looking for a pen to fit your needs. All you need is an idea what the different pens do, then you can decide which one works best for you.
We’ll try to help you out with that.
Let’s start here: What all the labels basically come down to is ink. Even more simply put, thick ink or thin ink. Thicker inks dry quickly, last longer and make neat, but uninspired lines. Thinner inks dry slower and run out faster, but make sharper, more vibrant lines.
Pens generally are classed by the types of ink they use and the delivery system.
Ballpoint pens – These use a thick, oil-based ink that is essentially a paste. A ball at the tip of the pen picks up the paste and presses it onto the paper. The ink is carried in an alcohol solvent, which dries quickly, leaving the ink stuck to the paper.
Obviously the advantage to ink that dries quickly is that it’s less likely to smudge. And, because the ink is thick, less of it comes out as you write, so ballpoints tend to last a long time. The ink is also far less likely to bleed through the paper.
However, the thick ink is more prone to clumping and takes more writing pressure to apply to the paper. Since you have to press harder, it makes for a less comfortable writing experience.
Rollerball pens – These use a thinner, water-based ink that comes out as a liquid (which is why you also see them referred to as liquid ink pens). The design is basically the same as a ballpoint: a ball held in a cone-shaped or pronged tip that picks up the ink and rolls it onto the paper. The solvent, water, is slower to dry than alcohol.
Since the ink dries more slowly, it is more prone to smudging, especially for lefties whose hands drag over the lines as they write. The thinner ink also flows out of the pen at a faster rate, so the ink cartridges have a much shorter life than ballpoints. And paper absorbs the ink more readily, so bleed-through is a concern.
The main advantage of these pens over standard ballpoints is that the ease of flow makes writing extremely smooth, and the richer saturation is just more attractive.
Gel pens – OK, this is where it can get kind of confusing because this ink is used in both ballpoint and rollerball pens. The ink is a water-based gel that isn’t quite as thick as typical ballpoint paste, but isn’t quite as thin as rollerball liquid. It’s delivered the same, via a rolling ball.
The idea of gel ink is to achieve a balance so that it dries quickly and is less likely to blot or smudge, but still flows freely enough to write more smoothly than a standard ballpoint. Because gels use pigments, rather than dyes, there also is more variation in the colours available.
Gel pens, like liquid ink rollerballs, create bold, rich lines and tend to write quite comfortably. But the thicker ink also tends to clump occasionally, like ballpoint ink, and doesn’t always coat the ball evenly, leaving skips in the line.
So which one is best for you? That really depends on the type of writing you do the most, and what your priorities are when choosing a pen – the cost, the writing experience, or the way it looks on paper.
Expense: Ballpoints use less ink, which means buying fewer refills, and they’re less prone to dry out when not in use. They’re dependable, inexpensive everyday writers that will get the job done.
Feel: Rollerballs float across the paper nearly as smoothly as fountain pens for the most graceful, comfortable writing experience. You can use them for long periods of time without cramps or fatigue.
Appearance: Gels produce the cleanest, most precise lines without sacrificing vibrancy. They’re perfect for adding bold signatures to documents, for writing journal entries, or for artwork.
Your best bet probably is to start out with a good ballpoint or gel pen and try using it for a while. You can always trade up if you want a smoother writing experience and don’t mind the added expense. But we’re betting that once you pick up the right gel pen, you’ll be perfectly happy to stick with it.
That’s our take – but we want to hear from you. Which pen is working best for you right now?