It should surprise you not one single iota. Combine the persnicketiness necessary for a programmer, the aesthetic preoccupations evident from how styled it all is, and the hints here and there that I’ve done some drawing in my time… and you get Strong Opinions about Pens.

Now, you may have your own opinions about pens, and if they make you happy, go no further. I am not about to deny anyone their pen pleasures. Not today, not in the year of our Lord twenty fuckin twenty.

However, if you are unsatisfied enough to be curious…

Everything on this page is under development because I have a handbook’s worth of aforementioned Opinions, and it is not worth waiting to express them in their totality.

ballpoint pens

Read this article in order to understand ballpoint pens, primarily so that you will understand why you should not use them, and to start to understand how handwriting and pen type relate. Their thick ink is a technological kludge; if you’ve ever noticed that they perform better on cheaper paper, you may start connecting dots. The thickness of the ink means that the ball doesn’t always want to roll, and the tooth of rougher paper grabs it. This is all fine and good if you need a pen that is cheap enough that you will not miss it, and I’m sure its invention is blah blah blah good for society, but you’re not here for that.

fountain pens

Fountain pens have a smoother glide. If you use bottled ink, they generate a lot less waste, and even if you use cartridges, I’m pretty sure that’s less plastic into the landfill than even normal pen refills. You can customize the writing experience to a truly stupid degree of exactness. Because they last forever, they are often very beautiful. Fountain pen ink has much more interesting options than pen refills if you are at all curious to venture beyond a functional-enough black.

goulet pens

These people know their pens, they know their inks, they will explain it all to you on video, and I have been ordering from them for years. Unless you are looking for something that is both unusual and Japanese, I would recommend to first try to work with Goulet Pens.
Here’s a sample of their really excellent videos.

swab shop

All those interesting ink options can get pretty overwhelming. The Goulet folks are here to let you compare swatches without having to run down a bunch of strangers’ blogs.

rollerball pens

A rollerball pen is not a ballpoint pen. A rollerball pen uses proper liquid ink and is therefore spared my general disdain for ballpoints; less technically, they seem less prone to revoltingly overpriced scams aimed at people who know that pens can be fancy, but not why.

I’ll write out more later about my recommendations, but if you think you like this category and you like pens with fine lines, I heartily endorse Jetpens’ sampler pack of fine-lined pens.