I’m not really an artist, but I like pretending to be one and buying supplies I don’t need in a bid to guilt myself into making more art (because, jeez, come on, I’ve spent all this money on these THINGS. Gotta use them). And that is why I picked this up for around $18 at Jerry’s Artarama.
First off, it comes in this fancy-pants shiny case (which was about 35% of why I bought this pen) that’s just the right amount of minimalist classy, and is (presumably) protective yet lightweight.
Opening the case, you find 5 ink cartridges and this neato-looking writing contraption. The body of this pen is in the style of such artist’s tools as paintbrushes or crowquill pens, which is to say, baffling to everyone else. You have opened the lid on some strange and exotic creature just waiting to mark all over your pages.
Now, I started out with five cartridges–only three are pictured. One of these has been co-opted in the improvement of a very inky A.G. Spalding mini fountain pen (but that’s another review); the other was in this pen for a week until my Rotring converter arrived (for the sake of brevity, we’ll do a short review of that later) and now sits beneath a mess of pseudo-sealing tape in a full upright position. They are alright, as far as cartridges go, but they are maddeningly smudgy even far after having dried, and I knew this pen deserved better. Note:
I think the smudging problems with the Noodler’s Bulletproof black were mostly due to the ink not being fully dry as I was drawing. But the cartridge ink was getting noticeably smudged through contact with other paper long after that ink was dry. Both inks are a nice, rich black, but I would still recommend a Rotring fountain pen converter if you want to use this pen. The bottle ink just does better.
Overall, the pen is made of a nice matte-finish plastic with a sturdy clip and clear, easy-to-identify labeling on the end of the cap so you know which nib pen this is. It seems like such a fancy metal box might have some kind of fancy metal pen inside, but I’m okay with the plastic–it feels durable but not weighty; sometimes I like a pen to have a low profile feel in my hand, and that’s what this pen has.
So, as the maniacally abusive pen points out, there’s nowhere to securely post the cap when you want to write. You can put the cap on the narrow end, where it will rattle around until you lose all semblance of rational thought, or you can put it carefully on the table and hope you don’t knock it off, because putting the cap in the fancy silver box and shutting it in there would make too much sense. But seriously, adding an extra, smaller ring inside the cap so that it could post snugly on the narrow end of the pen…would that be so hard? I know the Tachikawa comic pen holders have this feature for their cheap plastic caps…you’d think a nice pen would be able to do them one better. Someone, at some point, had to consciously decide that what users of the Rotring Art Pen would do, when they wanted to write, was to take off the cap and store it in their cheek pouches until it was time to cap the pen again, and that offering a snug way to keep the cap on the other end of the pen just wasn’t a good idea.
I think this pen is more or less true to its advertised word; here is a fountain pen with a fine nib (I will reserve judgment on how extra this fineness might be) that is fun to sketch with. It was a little paper-temperamental in terms of writing quality, but for sketching the differences were negligible. And it was smooth, without being overly inky or wet, which is my biggest problem with some fountain pens.
I tried to follow the JetPens directions regarding refilling a piston-converted fountain pen, but I couldn’t get the ink to draw up through the nib or the entire submerged tip. I just took the converter out and filled that up when I needed ink.
I love the quality of the line this pen puts out. It has subtle personality. I love the look of this pen–one of understated difference, elegant simplicity. This is a pen for the regular rotation of implements of artistry. My only problem is the cap-posting issue, which I can certainly get over.
If you’re near a Jerry’s Artarama, I suggest trying to get the Rotring Art Pen through them (because they are an amazing store / wonderland of fabulously priced art supplies). If you are not near a Jerry’s Artarama, try scouring the internet. I don’t know the best place to recommend, unfortunately, since I got my pen in an actual store. :/
Rotring Art Pen at Jerry’s Artarama