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I've just always had an obsession with pen & ink. There is something about the high-contrast black against white that appeals to me. It's crisp, it's graphic and just plain sexy.

The first time I laid eyes on a fountain pen I fell in love. What a beautiful little instrument; all the parts, the intricate workings, the paraphernalia, the ritual. Such a simple, ingenious and elegant way to deliver ink to the surface of the paper. Little portable wells of ideas waiting to be wielded by an inventive mind.


When I took a drafting course, I discovered technical pens; as well as T-squares, triangles, french curves, compasses etc. I also discovered how they were used which was quite a revelation for me. Technical pens are also particularly good for stippling; using dots of ink to shade. So along with precise line work came careful tonality. My work took on a far more polished look as I developed these skills.


On to Powell Peralta to draw skateboard art. I was definitely influenced by Courtland Johnson who was Mr PP up to that point. This lead to using scratch board, a medium that allows you to work back and forth between the positive and negative. I evolved my pen & ink chops and personal style quite a bit during these years. The variety of projects was fantastic and made the job very stimulating and challenging at the same time. I also learned a lot about screen printing and preparing art for production there. All in all it was a wonderful experience and a time of tremendous growth as an artist.


Now I make art for video games. I do a lot of pre-vis work in the process, but it tends to be mostly "thinking with a pencil' kind of work; literally. Past that it's working on a computer. So my pen & ink work has become more of a sideline activity. Lots of sketch and doodle, with the occasional little project here and there. I do use digital drawing/painting programs, but it still seems to fall short of the fluid, direct nature of pen & ink on paper. It's tactile, tangible, non-editable, fragile, and it's my main muse.


As with most things, it's a journey and there is an evolution. The important thing is finding your own personal style and and voice through lots and lots of practice. The following kind of sums it up...

"Once a stroke is painted, it cannot be changed or erased. This makes ink and wash painting a technically demanding art-form requiring great skill, concentration, and years of training"

I have come to really enjoy a looser expressive look. Using french curves, triangles and rulers is useful for accurate layout and for certain projects but can start to make the drawing look stiff and more mechanical. I really like to see the hand of the artist in the line work more than the tool that is being used. I suppose this is true across the board; I'm more interested in style, than just accuracy or realism.

These days I like using a brush for the flexibility and variation of line, I tend to use a variety of nib sizes within a drawing to give a more lively look to the piece, and I like to keep it simple and as gestural as possible. I've also begun to use a light brush of water over my line work to add a tonal quality and soften edges.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring but my love for this medium will assure that it remains one of my favorite and primary artistic voices.


Whatever works for you, whatever gets the job done, whatever you are comfortable with; that's what you should use. I've tried most kinds of pens and in the end, they all just have different voices. So I it depends on what you are trying to say and how you want to say it. You can find some mind-blowing ball point pen art out there so use what suits you.

My ROTRING Art Pens are still a go-to pen. I've had a couple of them for years! They were the first sketch pen that really worked for me; never clogged up, even after sitting unused for long periods. The EF and F are both great sketch pens. I also use the B and BB lettering pens for bolder line work.

Over the last several years I've started to acquire a few more 'fancier' fountain pens. Started with a Cross Apogee because it was so classic. I like this pen for writing more than sketching, it has a fairly stiff feel. Then I got a couple Cross Verve (F,B); love the style, shape and feel of this pen. They make a nice team. Always trying to roll away though, watch out.

Then I started seeing good reviews for the Namiki Falcon (F), and I'm here to tell you it is one truly sweet pen. The flexible nib feels so nice; a joy to use. I ended up getting an M and B to match, but really the sweet spot is in the Fine point; they nailed that one.

Another long-time favorite of mine is a Japanese brush pen. Ultimately, brush gives the most flexibility of line width etc. It is far more fluent than the most flexible nib. I find it to be the most expressive as well.

Lately I've started using a bush loaded with water to pull ink washes off the lines of my pen & ink drawings. I like what I am seeing, but the technique needs more polishing.


Who do I like? Who inspires me? Where does one start, there are so many. But here is a quick list of some of the artists who really resonate with me. Daniel Vierge, Franklin Booth, Joseph Clement Coll, Heinrich Kley, Herbert Railton, J.M. Conde, Kay Nielsen, Harry Roundtree.

Getting a little more contemporary: Frank Frazetta, Rick Griffin, William Stout, Berni Wrightson, Gary Gianni. That doesn't even scratch the surface as they say but those are the guys I go back and study time and time again.

A fantastic resource for checking out artists from the golden era of pen & ink illustration is the Black and White Images annual collection published by Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr. It is up to volume 5 and is a wealth of great art, inspiration and wonder.

Jim is also the guy behind Bud Plant's Illustrated books artist section; another great place to check out pen and ink artists from the day.

Also, Flesk Publications has some great books available: Franklin Booth, Joseph Clement Coll and Mark Schultz in the house. Check it out.

I will talk more about the tools I use, and the artists who inspire me in my blog. Keep drawing.

we deliver

images clockwise from top left:

-'we deliver' - pocket logo for Powell Peralta t-shirt (pen & ink on paper)

-Powell Peralta bone 'P' logo [alt version] (pen & ink on paper)

-splash tattoo design [stipple] (pen & ink on paper)

- tv (brush, pen & ink on paper)

-lunitic - ink & scratchboard - t-shirt design for Powell Corp.

-Captain Pike - technical pen on illustration board

-Headipus Rex - technical pen on illustration board

-knee bone design for proto type pant print for Powell Peralta. Design was to be printed right over the knee of the pant. Never went into production

-burnt out - pen & ink on paper

-chatting with a beetle doodle

-monitor head - pen & ink on paper

-grinning skull - pen & ink doodle

headipus rex
captain pkie
monitor head