Cult Pens http://www.cultpens.com/blog The widest range of pens, pencils and markers on the planet! Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:31:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Chris Williams: Cult Pens Artist of the Month April 2014 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/chris-williams-cult-pens-artist-month-april-2014/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/chris-williams-cult-pens-artist-month-april-2014/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:30:46 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3729 Every month, we highlight the work of a different artist or illustrator through the title banner of our monthly newsletter – Penorama. If you don’t already receive Penorama, you can subscribe here. The artist of the month for April is … Continue reading

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Every month, we highlight the work of a different artist or illustrator through the title banner of our monthly newsletter – Penorama. If you don’t already receive Penorama, you can subscribe here.

The artist of the month for April is Chris Williams, a cartoonist from Liverpool.

Here’s the banner Chris made for us:

penorama-dink-650x100

And here’s how it appeared in Penorama:

Penorama-vol-15-April

Cult Pens: Tell us a bit more about yourself.
Chris: Hello I’m a freelance cartoonist working in Liverpool. I draw under the pen name of Dink as there’s lots of Chris Williams out there (Kipper Williams for one). I’m happy to be involved with The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain, the UK’s largest cartoonists’ organisation.

Cult Pens: How would you describe your work?
Chris: I’m mainly a single panel gag cartoonist but occasionally do strips or caricature work. Work is usually delivered digitally but everything starts with pens, paper and pencils.

Cult Pens: What got you into drawing/cartoons?
Chris: Drawing my own comics and cartoons as a kid with dreams of becoming the next Tom Patterson. I’d read, collect and copy any comic or newspaper strip I could get my hands on. Looking back on it… Andy Capp and Flo punch ups aren’t the things a 6 year old should be drawing really.

Cult Pens: If you weren’t a cartoonist, what was the back-up plan?
Chris: I’m also a web designer so don’t worry I’ve got it covered. Other dreams included being an astronaut or driving one of those council vans that clean gutters with the twirly brushes.

Cult Pens: What are your favourite subjects/topics to draw?
Chris: Befuddled people. I also like doing topical jokes but they have lifespan of a few days so have short shelf life.

talk-dinktoons

Cult Pens: Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
Chris: Being silly on twitter, Facebook or current events. But ideas just pop in from anywhere at anytime.

Cult Pens: What are you currently working on?
Chris: Amongst other things I’m working for a couple of regular corporate clients who use cartoons to lighten up press releases or to get complex messages across. A good idea and it must work because they keep asking for more.

Cult Pens: How long does it normally take to complete a project?
Chris: Completely varies upon how many elements are in the cartoon or if it’s more than one panel. Could be an hour, could be a day.

Cult Pens: What are your top 5 pens?
Chris: No idea they all seem to be in Japanese! What’s this black one? Help! Hang on, I’ve had them translated.

1. Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen

2. Pentel Brush Pen

3. Faber-Castell Grip 1347 Mechanical Pencil

4. Koh-I-Noor Toison D’Or Clutch Pencil

5. Copic MultiLiner SP

Cult Pens: What pen or pencil couldn’t you live without?
Chris: Too late! It’s gone! I had a great Staedtler Mechanical Pencil for years, yellow with a rubber grip, and I’ve just lost it *sniff*

Cult Pens: Do you know when a work is finished or are you constantly tweaking?
Chris: I’ve pretty much learned when to stop now. Over working something and giving people’s eyes unnecessary work to do doesn’t make a cartoon any funnier.

Cult Pens: What work are you most proud of?
Chris: Oh I don’t know really.. There’s an early gag of mine about a ventriloquist with very big hands. It’s not the best drawn cartoon but it still gives me a smile when I see it.

Cult Pens: What tips do you have for aspiring artists/cartoonists?
Chris: Don’t stop, you’ll regret it. Even if you’re distracted by earning a living in other ways keep drawing. Best thing you can do is not keep your cartoons to yourself. Join online groups and forums to show your work. The Cartoonists’ Club of Great Britain’s public Q&A forum is a great place to join in with competitions and to post your cartoons. You’ll gain confidence and receive friendly advice from some of the best cartoonists in the business…….. oh and buy some pens.

You can find out more about Chris and his work here: www.dinktoons.com

dummy

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The Memory of Colour – Handy Tips http://www.cultpens.com/blog/stabilo-memory-of-colour-handy-tips/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/stabilo-memory-of-colour-handy-tips/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:44:01 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3794 We covered the research behind how memory of colour can enhance memory performance here. Now, we’ve got some ways you can put this into practice, in day-to-day life, or in more specific situations, such as exam or presentation preparation. The … Continue reading

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8820-02 oval plastic box Assorted 20 coloursWe covered the research behind how memory of colour can enhance memory performance here.

Now, we’ve got some ways you can put this into practice, in day-to-day life, or in more specific situations, such as exam or presentation preparation. The methods below are most effective when taking notes initially, but can also be used to condense notes into a more manageable format. There are 10 sets of speakers to be won, to help you through the exam preparation period. See below for details!

The Cornell Method

The Cornell Method provides a systematic format for condensing and organizing notes without lots of re-writing. It’s simple, efficient, and saves time and effort, and can be used in any situation.

Method

  • Rule your paper with a small margin (about 7cm) on the left leaving a larger area (about 15cm) on the right in which to make notes.
  • After writing the more detailed notes in the main space, use the left-hand space to label each idea and detail with a key word or “cue.”
  • Try to link relevant cues using different colours so they are visually connected.
  • A brief summary at the bottom of the page may also be beneficial.
  • To review, cover your notes with a card, leaving the cues exposed. Say the cue out loud, and then say as much as you can of the material underneath the card. When you have said as much as you can, move the card and see if what you said matches what is written. If you can say it, you know it.

Stabilo Cornell Image (640x554)

Useful products for this are the GREENpoint, point88, and pen68.

All colours caps offStabilo pen68

The Outlining Method

The outlining method is a well-organized system if done right. Outlining records content as well as relationships. It also reduces editing and is easy to review by turning main points into questions. This method can be used in most situations but is particularly effective when there is enough time between each point to decide how to organize the notes.

Method

  • Place the most general points farthest to the left.
  • Indent each more specific point to the right.
  • Levels of importance will be indicated by distance away from the major point.
  • Label the indents with bullets, numbers, or not at all as space relationships will indicate the major/minor points.

Stabilo Outlining Image

Useful products for this: point88, pointVisco, and GREENpoint.

St_07561_1099_10_Assort (2)

Stabilo pointVisco

Mind Maps®

The Mind Map® is a dynamic and exciting tool to help all thinking and planning become a smarter and faster activity.  By creating a Mind Map® it is possible to plan every aspect of our lives, whether this be communication, problem solving, recalling memories, revising, teaching or managing time. This method is sometimes also called a memory tree.

Method

  • Write down or draw the central topic or theme in the middle of the page e.g. Types of Clouds
  • Draw “branches” from the central topic detailing each sub topic, making sure to leave space for further notes.  e.g. Levels of clouds
  • From each of these branches, draw more branches detailing the sub groups of their main branches, adding images where you want e.g: High Clouds = Cirrus and Cirrocumulous
  • Add as much or a little information to each branch as you want, or try using a colour group for each branch, it is your memory tool!

Stabilo Mind Map Image (640x416)

Useful products for this method include GREENpoint, pointBall, and BOSS.

Green Point Stillife30Stabilo GREENpoint

Click here for the full range of Stabilo writing instruments.

WIN A SET OF SPEAKERS!

We know how boring revision can be, so the kind folks at Stabilo have given us 10 sets of bluetooth speakers to giveaway and liven up those cramming sessions. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is let us know how you use colour when you revise! You can comment in the box below, on our Facebook or Twitter pages, or get creative and attach a picture of your colourful revision notes*.

The competition will be open from 8th April to 8th June 2014. Winners will be selected and notified on 9th June 2014, and announced on this blog post, and on the Cult Pens social media pages on 10th June 2014. Entrants must be 16 years or over. Only one entry per person.

*Disclaimer: Cult Pens take no responsibility for extreme procrastination resulting from writing entries to this competition.

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The Memory of Colour – The Theory http://www.cultpens.com/blog/memory-of-colour-stabilo-theory/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/memory-of-colour-stabilo-theory/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:43:00 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3644 Our brains are amazing, capable of countless thoughts and instructions.  With so much information we have to take in during our day to day life, we can improve our memory by organising our thoughts using various methods. This post provides … Continue reading

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88_150-2 Assorted 150pcs ceramic potOur brains are amazing, capable of countless thoughts and instructions.  With so much information we have to take in during our day to day life, we can improve our memory by organising our thoughts using various methods. This post provides a brief introduction to the theory behind the memory of colour, and how colour affects memory performance.

The memory process

  1. A stimulus is perceived in the environment.
  2. Information is passed from sensory memory to short-term memory through attention, meaning information that is interesting is what’s going to be remembered.
  3. By spending time processing the meaningful information, it is transferred from the short-term memory, to the long-term.
  4. Information can then be retrieved from the long-term memory, into the short-term, which results in recall.

memory process

So how does colour improve memory?

Colour can have a dramatic impact between the sensory and short-term memory. Quite simply, colour attracts attention. It stimulates your creative thinking process and also helps the brain make associations in terms of location, relevance and position on the page, thus starting the processing of information.

SCST_04518

Stabilo Boss

Hedwig von Restorff said that one colour is monotonous and boring and so the brain just switches off. By using colour when writing, in particular warm colours such as yellow, you add an element of surprise to stimulate the brain. Past experiments have also shown that highlighting key words and phrases when studying for a test provide memory benefits versus not using any kind of highlighting. The Stabilo BOSS, has been used for over 30 years as a colourful study aid, or you could try keeping a different coloured pointBall handy for writing important dates or appointments.

pointBall_PR

Stabilo pointBall

As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. It is easier for us to remember things as images, as this is how we think; you’re recall of the objects pictured below is probably better than it would be if the items were presented in a written list. So logic, and a bit of research, suggests that the more images you use when trying to remember something, the more successful you will be. However, images are best remembered when they are in natural or expected colours, if the stimulus is too strange, it will simply be ignored.

memory test

How is this information useful?

The research conducted into how memory is affected by colour has been translated to a range of applications. These have included using colours in intervention programs for people with reading difficulties, to make the program easier to follow. Vivid colours have also been used to successfully improve the short-term memory of individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Facts and figures about colour and memory:

  • Effective use of colour increases attention span by up to 82%
  • Colour increases the understanding of something by 70% and recall by 60%
  • Colour visuals increase willingness to read by up to 80%
  • Using colour can increase motivation and participation by up to 80%
  • Colour enhances learning and improves retention by more than 75%
  • Studies that suggest 83% of learning occurs visually.
  • Colour visuals increases willingness to read by 80%
  • Colour communications can improve comprehension by 75% over black-and-white communications.
  • Training materials printed in colour can accelerate learning from a rate of 55% to a rate of 75%

So how can you put this into practice, to help you remember things on both a day-to-day basis, and in more specific situations, such as exam revision or presentation preparation? Find out here.

Stabilo have a huge range of pens in a variety of colours, available here.

Resources:

Greene, T. C., Bell, P. A., & Boyer, W. N. (1983). Coloring the environment: Hue, arousal, and boredom. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society.

Wichmann, F. A., Gegenfurtner, K. R., & Sharpe, L. T. (2002). Learning, Memory and Cognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Wilkins A. J. (2003). Reading through colour. Wiley: Chichester.

Ludlow AK, Wilkins AJJ (May 2009). Case report: color as a therapeutic intervention. Autism Dev Disord.

Cernin P., Keller B., Stoner J. (2003). Color vision in Alzhermer’s patients: Can we improve object recognition with color cues? Aging Neuropsychology.

Green, R. E. (1989). The Persuasive Properties of Color. Marketing Communications

White, J. V. (1997). Color for Impact: How Color Can Get Your Message Across – Or Get in the Way. Strathmore Press,U.S

Loyola University School of Business, Chicago, IL. (1999). As reported in Hewlett-Packard’s Advisor.

U.S. Dept. of Labor (1996). Presenting Effective Presentations with Visual Aids. OSHA Office of Training and Education.

Don Jones (2004). The Definitive Guide to Office Colour Printing. Written for HP Invent.

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National Stationery Week http://www.cultpens.com/blog/national-stationery-week-2/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/national-stationery-week-2/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:54:19 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3678 National Stationery Week is upon us, and it is worth getting excited about. Well, it is if you’re at least a little bit obsessed with stationery – and you’re reading our blog, so you probably are. Just a little bit. … Continue reading

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NSW-mainNational Stationery Week is upon us, and it is worth getting excited about. Well, it is if you’re at least a little bit obsessed with stationery – and you’re reading our blog, so you probably are. Just a little bit. Sponsors of the event include some of our favourite brands, Faber-Castell, Zebra and Sheaffer, and we’ve got some great prizes to give away during the week. See below, or check out our Facebook page, during National Stationery Week to enter!

National Stationery Week: 31st March – 6th April 2014

National Stationery Week is all about celebrating the vast array of wonderful pens, pencils, notebooks, and other stationery products available to us in the UK, which is certainly something we can get behind. With almost 12,000 products, we probably have the widest range of pens and pencils on this planet, sourced from all over the world. National Stationery Week gives us stationery addicts even more opportunity to share our passion with the non-converts among us. For those who work in the stationery business, don’t forget to check out the London Stationery Show, on the 1st and 2nd of April, the only UK show dedicated to all things stationery!

stationery_addict_sticker

This year’s National Stationery Week is not only a celebration of all things stationery, but is aiming to Get Britain Writing. With the advent of modern technology, it’s important that we don’t lose the art of the hand written word, especially amongst the younger generations. In fact, the government has recently decided it would be a good idea to reintroduce handwriting and letter writing into the national curriculum for secondary schools from September.

You’ve got to admit, an e-card (if you’ve ever received one), just isn’t the same as a hand-written card or letter that lands on your doorstep… So why not send someone a letter, and get those inky creative juices flowing out onto the paper!

Visit National Stationery Week’s website for more information.

Big Giveaway!

Sponsors Sheaffer, Faber-Castell, and Zebra, have kindly donated a load of prizes for us to give away during National Stationery Week. Prizes we are giving away include:

Sheaffer VFM Ballpoint

Sheaffer-VFM-4up

Available in this giveaway are the rather excitingly named, Strobe Silver, Ultra Mint, Excessive Red, and Neon Blue finishes, all with a contrasting polished nickel-plated trim and blue-ink ‘K’ refill, presented in a gift box.

Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Ballpoint

FC-Grip-2011-bp-4up

A high-quality ergonomic ballpoint pen. We have them available to give away in Pink, Green, Purple and Petrol Blue, all supplied with a medium blue-ink refill.

Zebra Goody Bag

cult pens NSW goody bag

Worth over £60 at RRP(!!), Zebra have provided a selection of mixed goodies for us to give away to one lucky winner during the week. Items in the set include:

Giveaway Update!

Thank you to everyone who entered, we had over 300 correct entries during the week! For all those of you wondering, the correct answer was C: Cult Pens have almost 12,000 products to fuel your stationery addiction. Check them all out here.

The entry period ended on Sunday 6th April, at the same time as National Stationery Week 2014, and we’ve managed to find time to randomly generate the list of winners a day earlier than planned. Congratulations to those listed below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Shaun Raven: Cult Pens Artist of the Month – March 2014 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/shaun-raven-cult-pens-artist-month-march-2014/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/shaun-raven-cult-pens-artist-month-march-2014/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 09:02:21 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3646 Every month, we highlight the work of a different artist or illustrator through the title banner of our monthly newsletter – Penorama. If you don’t already receive Penorama, you can subscribe here. The artist of the month for March is … Continue reading

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Every month, we highlight the work of a different artist or illustrator through the title banner of our monthly newsletter – Penorama. If you don’t already receive Penorama, you can subscribe here.

The artist of the month for March is Shaun Raven, a cartoonist from Essex.

This is the banner Shaun made for us:

Penorama-vol-13-February

Here’s how it appeared in our newsletter:

Penorama-vol-13-February

Cult Pens: Tell us a bit more about yourself.
Shaun:  My name is Shaun Raven, and I’m what you might call, a “mature” cartoonist/illustrator based in Essex.

Cult Pens: How would you describe your work?
Shaun: Simple, clean, colourful cartoons that are hopefully funny too!

Cult Pens: What got you into drawing/illustration?
Shaun: I came to it late in life.  I’ve been in the IT industry since I left school, and I was looking for something creative to do that I could fit in with a hectic schedule.  I’ve always been interested in cartoons, and I love to doodle, so the two came together naturally.  It later turned into a second career…

Cult Pens: If you weren’t an illustrator, what was the back-up plan?
Shaun: Cartooning/Illustrating IS my backup!  Like many cartoonists, I have a “day” job to pay the bills…

Cult Pens: What are your favourite subjects/topics to draw?
Shaun: I don’t think I have one.  It’s the thing I really like about cartooning – there are no limits about what you can draw.  One day it’s a girl baking cakes, the next it’s a Stormtrooper cuddling a droid!  It’s your world – you draw what you like (or at least, what your client likes)…

Cult Pens: Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
Shaun: Anywhere.  TV, Radio, comments that people make the Internet, etc., etc., etc…

Cult Pens: What are you currently working on?
Shaun: I’ve been commissioned to draw a cartoon for a head teacher’s retirement – he loves cricket, so that features heavily.  I also regularly enter the Cartoonists Caption Competition, where you have to draw a cartoon to a given caption – not as easy as it appears!

Jayne Cobb - Draw

Cult Pens: How long does it normally take to complete a project?
Shaun: It varies depending on the project.

Cult Pens: What are your top 5 pens?
Shaun: Oooh – tough one.  I regularly use Paper-Mate Flairs (both “Nylon” & “Ultra”) as they don’t bleed with my colour pencil technique.  I also use Koh-I-Noor polycolor pencils (lovely consistency), Letraset Promarkers, Staedtler Tradition Pencils (HB) and Zebra Disposable Fude Brush Pens (Fine).

Cult Pens: What pen or pencil couldn’t you live without?
Shaun: Standard HB pencils and my flairs – my style is quite graphic, and I use the two different lines frequently

Cult Pens: Do you know when a work is finished or are you constantly tweaking?
Shaun: I try not to tweak too much, because I know I’ve ruined stuff I’ve worked on in the past.  If you’re not sure, walk away and come back to it later…

Cult Pens: What work are you most proud of?
Shaun: The next one… :)

Cult Pens: What tips do you have for aspiring artists/illustrators?
Shaun: Practice, practice, practice…

You can find more information on Shaun’s work on his website, www.hypervox.co.uk

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Win a Pilot Capless! http://www.cultpens.com/blog/win-pilot-capless/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/win-pilot-capless/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 09:01:17 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3669 A Cult Pens favourite, the Capless fountain pen by Pilot is the perfect combination of luxury and technology and we’re giving you the chance to win one! First, a brief history… Pilot’s engineers created many new products to celebrate the … Continue reading

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Capless-comp

A Cult Pens favourite, the Capless fountain pen by Pilot is the perfect combination of luxury and technology and we’re giving you the chance to win one! First, a brief history… Pilot’s engineers created many new products to celebrate the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games, but the greatest of their achievements was the Capless fountain pen, or as it’s known in America, the ‘Vanishing Point‘.

The Capless works with a simple push-button system that withdraws the nib into the body, closing an air-tight seal behind it, which prevents it from drying out or leaving ink stains on your clothes. Although Pilot are better known in the UK for their simple, but great quality, gel- and liquid-ink rollerball pens, their fine writing instruments are considered by experts and enthusiasts to be of exceedingly high quality; Pilot nibs are held in the same esteem as Pelikan, Waterman and other high-end manufacturers.

Capless pens are available in a wide range of finishes and all supplied in luxury gift boxes:

  • Capless – in either gold or rhodium trim.
  • Carbonesque – Same as the standard pen, but with a patterned finish, which in Europe is given the name Carbonesque due to the similarity to carbon-fibre weave. In Japan, the finish is actually known as Kasuri, which is a resist technique for dying textiles that creates simple patterns.
  • Decimo – A slimmer & lighter-weight barrel design.
  • Fermo – Employs a twist-retract mechanism rather than the standard push-button.
  • Limited – You guessed it! Limited edition colours produced annually.
  • Namiki Raden – Hand-applied abalone finish and is the ultimate version of the Capless fountain pen. Decorated using the traditional Japanese raden technique of hundreds of tiny multi-coloured abalone shell fragments and finished with 10 layers of hand-applied lacquer.

Capless desk shot


To be in with a chance of winning this sought after pen, all you have to do is place an order for Pilot products between 11th March and 11th April. Simple really! The competition closes at midnight on the 11th April and the winner will be announced on the 14th April 2014.  All entries will go into a random draw, and the winner will be announced in the comments section below, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Learning To Write Part 4: Some Common Writing Worries http://www.cultpens.com/blog/some-common-worries/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/some-common-worries/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 08:52:07 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=2755 Writing is such an important skill to learn that it’s not uncommon for parents to worry about how their child is developing. Below we have listed some of the more common writing worries parents have. Pencil grip Children may develop … Continue reading

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Some common writing worries

Writing is such an important skill to learn that it’s not uncommon for parents to worry about how their child is developing. Below we have listed some of the more common writing worries parents have.

Pencil grip

Children may develop a strange pencil grip as they search for a comfortable hold and a way to control their movements. The grip used by young children will usually improve as their hand movements become more controlled over time.

Tip: Try showing them the tripod, or pencil, grip (focus of Part 3 in this series), or providing a triangular or ergonomic pencil or pen from the Stabilo EASY range, to help them develop a comfortable hold.

Back to front letters

Until they become good readers, children have to rely on their memory to write letters. This means that nearly all children will reverse their letters early on, or miss letters out of words.

Tip: Don’t put too much emphasis on their mistakes but heavily praise the letters they do get right.

Children who seem disinterested in writing

Mark-making must be fun for children. There are lots of different ways of making it an enjoyable and creative process and giving praise will encourage them to continue. Criticism on the other-hand can put them off.

Tip: Seeing other children, adults and parents writing and mark-making is a great way to encourage a reluctant writer as they will enjoy joining in with others. For early writers, try the Stabilo Woody pencils, and for older children, consider the Stabilo Scribbi pens, for group mark-making activities.

If you have any other tips to encourage early writers, please let us know in the comments section.

easy-graph-twinpackThe Stabilo EASYgraph pencils come in left- or right-handed packs, and aim to help develop correct hand posture.

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Help is at hand thanks to the EASYoriginal http://www.cultpens.com/blog/easyoriginal/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/easyoriginal/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 16:07:23 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3022 I’ve led a tough life. Having freckles hasn’t helped. Neither has my ginger hair (though I prefer to describe it as strawberry blond). My nose is pretty big, too. But what’s made things really difficult over the years isn’t obvious … Continue reading

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I’ve led a tough life. Having freckles hasn’t helped. Neither has my ginger hair (though I prefer to describe it as strawberry blond). My nose is pretty big, too.

But what’s made things really difficult over the years isn’t obvious to other people. At least not until I pick up a pen.

Have you guessed yet? I’m left-handed. I’m a cack-hand. A corrie-fist. Some even describe people like me as Pecksniffian. There’s been plenty written about left-handedness – how it’s linked to the word sinister, for example.

We’re different, you see. Scissors are the wrong way round. Tin-openers are back-to-front. And holding a pen and writing in the normal fashion turns the lower edge of your hand into a very effective ink-smearing device. Your thumbnail blocks your view of the pen nib. Absolutely anything could be appearing on the page. You wouldn’t know.

So you develop a very idiosyncratic grip to get round the problem. I call mine ‘the claw’.  Small children – my own included – see my fingers contorting into a spider-like vice and run screaming from the room. (To describe: place all four – yes four – fingertips down the side of the pen with your little finger pressed against the paper. Apply the pad of your thumb to the pen’s opposite side. Now curl your hand round so it veers off at a right angle to your wrist. Commence writing.)

My uncle’s a cack-hand, too. He was at school when holding your pen ‘funny’ got your knuckles rapped with the thin edge of a ruler. Or maybe jabbed at with an icicle – apparently his school was so cold, the teacher would swing at pupils just to keep warm.

Anyway, things have moved on. Schools now have central heating. And, in the world of stationery, you have some amazing designs especially for us sinister types.

It’s too late for me. The claw will not be defeated. I can’t write any other way. But my younger son still has a chance. Yes, he was also born with the left-handed gene. He’s also got a pen made by Stabilo called the EASYoriginal. Clever thing it is, too.

The rubberised mid-part has these depressions that your fingertips gravitate to, as if by magic. You end up holding the pen properly. They also prevent you from holding it too far down – so you can always see what you’re writing. The top tapers off into a curve  (a bit like the tip of a wizard’s hat) so it fits snugly against your index finger. Apparently, the roller-ball doesn’t smudge and, if you make a mistake, the ink can be rubbed out.

STABILO EASY original Handwriting Pen

Hurray, my son won’t have to go through the hand-writing hell I endured! He won’t have his classmates snigger at him as he writes. Words won’t look like they’re shooting across the page, leaving behind a faint blur. In fact, there’s only one other thing he need worry about. I wonder if Stabilo make a decent dye for ginger hair?

By Chris Simms. Chris is a British crime writer living in Manchester.

 

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iarXiv: Cult Pens Artist of the Month – February 2014 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/iarxiv-cult-pens-artist-month-february-2014/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/iarxiv-cult-pens-artist-month-february-2014/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 08:51:02 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3456 Every month, we highlight the work of a different artist or illustrator through the title banner of our monthly newsletter – Penorama. If you don’t already receive Penorama, you can subscribe here. The artist of the month for February is … Continue reading

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Every month, we highlight the work of a different artist or illustrator through the title banner of our monthly newsletter – Penorama. If you don’t already receive Penorama, you can subscribe here.

The artist of the month for February is iarXiv, who blogs regularly, including daily illustrations of cute piglets.

This is the banner iarXiv made for us:

cultpens banner no logo

Here’s how it appeared in our newsletter:

Penorama-vol-13-February

Cult Pens: Tell us a bit more about yourself.
iarXiv: Proud owner of a blog featuring daily illustrations of piglet adventures and a proud owner of three degrees in what’s considered the hardest science. Married to the most wonderful husband in the world. Excited by the thought of spending an hour on the gym elliptical reading The Economist and listening to punk-rock. Best able to relax by reading a good Russian classic. Willing to try new things, as long as they fit into my daily routine.

Cult Pens: How would you describe your work?
iarXiv: Varied, in technique and in subject matter. Hardly ever abstract. My digital creations, including the daily piglet adventures, are mostly full-colour paintings done with a Bamboo Stylus in Paper by 53 on my iPad mini.  Using traditional media, such as oils, wooden pencils, makers, pencil and ink, I prefer to create a very concrete image for the viewer to explore, be it a face, a landscape or a city scape, a still life or an animal form.  I often work from photographs, even when creating the fictional parallel universe for the Porcine Adventure.

Cult Pens: What got you into drawing/illustration?
iarXiv: The need to to be creative in a way which was disjoint from my scientific background.

Cult Pens: If you weren’t a illustrator, what was the back-up plan?
iarXiv: That’s a tough one. I’m not a professional illustrator – I’m a bit of a lot of things. My career path isn’t set in stone, yet.

Cult Pens: What are your favourite subjects to draw?
iarXiv: Piglets!

Cult Pens: Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
iarXiv: My husband is a great source of inspiration – together we brainstorm ideas for the Porcine Adventures, then he writes and I illustrate. As for my other art, the source can be anything as ‘simple’ as a gesture I saw someone make on the street, or as ‘complicated’ as a film-length dream I had last night. I read a lot of books, and I visualise scenes, so often inspiration comes from stories.

Cult Pens: What are you currently working on?
iarXiv: I’m illustrating a number of short stories that tie in with the Porcine Adventure, as well as doing a mini-series of charcoals of my home city. I’m also experimenting with marker-based illustrations inspired by Klee.

Cult Pens: How long does it normally take to complete a project?
iarXiv: Depends on what it is. A daily piglet drawing can take from two hours for the simpler ones to six hours for the more complicated ones (such as Napigleon, see below). That’s not counting the preparation time which includes researching what I will draw, testing out sketches, and visualising different angles from which to portray the scene. A digital design, like the CultPens Logo, is something I wouldn’t do in one sitting – but rather over the course of days, modifying the sketches until I was happy to begin the final design.

Traditional media is an altogether different kettle of fish; for example, it takes hours just to put down one layer of colour with wooden pencils, whereas it takes minutes to complete a first draft of a charcoal piece.

Cult Pens: What are your top 5 Pens?
iarXiv: Pilot G-Tec-C4Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Hyperfine 0.25,  Lamy 2000 Mechanical PencilFaber-Castell HB pencilLamy Joy AL Calligraphy pen (all bought from Cult Pens!).

Cult Pens: What pen or pencil couldn’t you live without?
iarXiv: The Wacom Bamboo Stylus pen for iPad, mostly because I publish daily illustration done in Paper for iPad and the Stylus is crucial. After that I’d say the black Pilot G-Tec C4.

Cult Pens: Black & white or full colour?
iarXiv: Both have their time and place.
Digital porcine art: I prefer colour.
Charcoal: I still prefer black on white paper, although I’ve also done some pieces with tinted charcoal on black paper.
Oil paints: definitely colour, although I like to experiment with a limited palette.
Wooden pencils: colour.
Markers: it depends.

Cult Pens: Do you know when a work is finished or are you constantly tweaking?
iarXiv: I’m a perfectionist, so the desire to tweak is huge. But. But, because I know this I’ve been paying a lot of attention to fine-tuning my ‘feeling’ for when an artwork is finished, or at least knowing when it’s a good time to stop. I’ve definitely gotten much better at this.

Cult Pens: What work are you most proud of?
iarXiv: Hello. Meet Napigleon. This was an illustration for Puggy the brown piglet’s Pigletopedia entry for an event in the parallel porcine history of the world (you can see the original post here). You might notice a similarity to Jacques-Louis David’s oil on canvas “Napoleon Crossing the Alps”.

Napigleon

Cult Pens: What tips do you have for aspiring artists/illustrators?
iarXiv: Let me pass on two pieces of advice that have stuck with me:

1. Don’t be afraid to try different mediums until you find one that works well for you.
2. No topic, subject, or object is too ‘silly’, ‘stupid’, ‘overworked’ for you to draw. If you feel inspired to give something a go, don’t hesitate because it’s been done before, because others have done it ‘better’, or because someone might accuse you of being unoriginal. The best way to learn is by copying the masters, while at the same time making sure that every new piece you do (that you’re happy with) is a tiny bit better than your previous one. Eventually you’ll find your own style and become a master in your own right.
Good luck!

For more of iarXiv’s work, visit her website.

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Pentel Slicci http://www.cultpens.com/blog/pentel-slicci/ http://www.cultpens.com/blog/pentel-slicci/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2014 12:01:52 +0000 http://www.cultpens.com/blog/?p=3606 The Pentel Slicci is a great pen, but seems to have remained under the radar for most people – even many pen geeks have never tried one. With a 0.7mm tip, it’s a very nice capped gel roller – quick-drying, … Continue reading

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The Pentel Slicci is a great pen, but seems to have remained under the radar for most people – even many pen geeks have never tried one. With a 0.7mm tip, it’s a very nice capped gel roller – quick-drying, super-smooth, and with a tough needlepoint tip that makes it easier to see what you’re doing. The 0.3mm tip is more of a rarity – super-fine, writing a 0.2mm line, but still remaining nice and smooth to write and draw with. Both of these sizes are available in a good range of colours, not just the usual three or four, and they’re now being joined by a set of 0.8mm metallic colours, and a set of 0.4mm-tipped pens, making gel pens fun again!

Pental-Slicci-box-set

We’re giving you the chance to win one of five sets of Slicci pens – a nice Pentel presentation box containing 24 Slicci pens. If you win, you will receive:

  • Eight Pentel Slicci 04 Pens – one of every colour.
  • Eight Slicci 07 Pens – one of every colour.
  • Eight Slicci Metallic 08 Pens – one of every colour.

As we considered our options for how to give these pens away, a song came into somebody’s head. Instead of doing the kind thing, and keeping it to themselves, they muttered the lyrics out loud, and infected us all, so we all had the song stuck in our heads.

Pentel-Slicci-03

Hey Slicci, you’re so fine,
You’re so fine you blow my mind,
Hey Slicci! Hey Slicci!

We could have been kind, and suffered alone. But we thought we’d infect you instead. The competition is your chance for revenge: Pen Songs.

Tell us your favourite song title or lyric, modified to be about pens. It can be a specific model of pen or pencil, a brand, or just pens or pencils in general. Bonus marks if you can help us get Toni Basil out of our heads.

You can enter in several ways, but the easiest one while you’re here is to comment on this post with your Pen Song. We’ll also post the competition on Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow us and enter there if you prefer.

You have until Friday the 21st of February – then we’ll pick our five favourites to win the sets.

** Update **

Thank you for all your entries. This competition has now closed, and our 5 lucky winners have been selected.

The 5 winning entries were from: Kevin, Sara-Louise, Stephen, and Tracy, who all entered through the comments section below, and Lee, who emailed the following version of the Spider-man theme tune in response to our February edition of Penorama.

“Staedtler Pen, staedtler pen, does whatever a Staedtler pen does. Draws a line, any size, Writing words or drawing lines. Look out here comes the Staedtler pen!”

 

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