Disclaimer - I am not a pen hoarder, and I like to keep my art supply collection as minimalist and functional as possible. I’ve been creating a long time, and I know what I like. So while there are about a million different options out there and I encourage you to find what works for you - the below items are what work the best for me, personally.
This nib became my favourite out of pure convenience. My boyfriend is also an artist - and he is a pen-hoarder lite. In the sense that every now and then he’ll order a bunch of pens/pen adjacent items online but then never use them, so I get to steal them and decide if I do or don’t like them. Well, he ordered a pack of these nibs, never used them, and one day I was working on an envelope order with a Nikko G (which is the first nib I ever used, took a long break from it and have now come back to for its simplicity and fine lines!) that was so was so worn down, I had to stop using it with just a few envelopes left to go, and I didn’t have a backup. So I grabbed one of these nibs and it was perfect and lovely, and basically the same as a Nikko G! Using the Zebra nib has been a game changer for me, because I can order them in a pack of basically a million at a time and don’t have to leave my house.
Honourable Mention: The Blue Pumpkin because it’s gorge, and was my favourite for a long time.
As someone who loves a white ink on a dark envelope, this product is everything. It delivers gorgeous crisp white letters in a perfectly opaque white, with no fuzzy edges. There is a bit of a learning curve with it, though. You can’t use it just out of the jar. You need Liquid Gum Arabic to make this baby sing, otherwise it’s like dipping your pen in nearly-dry cement. Mini Tutorial: In a separate container, mix Bleedproof White with a little bit of Gum Arabic at a time until the ink reaches your desired consistency. If you were mixing with water instead, stop that right now and do it this way, I swear it’ll change your life.
Honourable Mention: Winsor & Newton White Ink.
Okay so this one is kind of ironic because I actually kind of hate them. But, I am a slave to them because they work better than any other marker I’ve tried on pretty much every surface, are permanent (unless you use a paint scraper & acetone to remove and have strong biceps). Yes, you have to shake the living hell out of them regularly to get their ink flow going and the white ones usually require two coats in order to be truly opaque. But, they are my go-to for mirrors, wood, acrylic and all of my corporate calligraphy gigs where I’ve worked on everything from glass perfume bottles to ceramic tiles to rubber yoga mats. They are also the best thing to use for mirror seating charts - if you’re wondering how, head here, where my boo Sylvia explains perfectly how to create one.
Honourable Mention: Posca Markers. Oh, how I wish you were permanent.
Just the smoothest.This paper is my go-to for calligraphy practice, warmup exercises and client mockups. I’ll never understand how such a delicate paper can withstand nib & ink calligraphy without any ink bleeding, it boggles my mind, but I am here for it.
Honourable Mention: Not even. Just get a Rhodia pad.
Drawing & Art Supplies:
These have been my favourites basically since birth. They come in a wide range of sizes so you can get ridiculously, crazy fine details (use the .005 for the teeny tiny ones), all the way through to very thick line work. I know there are a billion pens out there, but these are truly the only ones you will ever really need. Pro Tip (and this actually kind of goes against my anti-pen-hoarding philosophy): Keep your old Micron pens, even when they start to run out of ink. I like to write on my older pens with sharpie to know which ones are older & losing their ink flow, so I can use them to achieve less opaque or lighter effects! (Dispose of them when they really have no ink left, obviously!)
Honourable Mention: Sakura Pigma Sense Pens. Hello Sakura, I love you.
Just so good. I use this for watercolor painting as well as calligraphy, and I actually prefer cold press to hot press. However, most people would probably prefer hot press for using a nib and ink, because it has a smooth texture. When choosing between hot press of cold press watercolor paper, I think it’s a matter of personal preference. When deciding on which type of paper you’ll use for calligraphy, it’s a matter of preference as well as how long you want to keep your nib in good shape (the textured paper will wear it down faster).
Honourable Mention: Arches. Because it’s literally perfection but way too expensive for me to not feel too nervous to paint on.
My go-to watercolors. Highly pigmented, smooth and reliable- and not ridiculously expensive either, especially for the quality level. You can buy them in a variety of different forms - I usually do tubes so I can mix custom colors easily, but I’ve recently realized that I have a bad habit of letting the tubes dry out, so I might be switching to the tray of colors next time I replenish my supplies!
Honourable Mention: Holbein. I lust after them, but only own 3 because $$$.
So those are my top picks! If you want to check out my other favourites, I have a full shop on Amazon where you can see all my preferred art & calligraphy supplies.
*Please Note: This post contains affiliate links for Amazon’s Influencer program, which means if you make a purchase using my referral links, I get a small commission. I never promote anything I haven’t tried and loved myself - Plus buying something you would be buying anyway with an affiliate link is a really nice way of supporting creatives who give away so much of their knowledge and time for free!*