Italic on Black: the beginning

This is the first piece I’ve ever uploaded, to Red Bubble or anywhere. You can view it here.

The description it has attached to it reads:

“When my lovely wife gave me my first fountain pen I spent hours just enjoying the flow of ink, watching it slide from thick to thin. This piece is a composite of that first A3 page, featuring a fractal-like level of abstract detail. Enjoy.”

There’s a little more to the story, if you’re interested.

My fascination with fountain pens began with Neil Gaiman. I really like his writing and got into the habit of reading his blog. Along the way he mentioned how much he loved writing with his fountain pens and how they prevented him from endlessly editing his initial ideas (as opposed to a word processor). The seed of my fountain pen love was planted there.

Then my wife bought me my italic pen. It’s a pen with a thin but wide nib, the kind of shape that created our current roman typefaces. I tried using it for normal writing but found I had to write pretty slow and large to be legible. However, the shapes I was creating were really interesting. If I drew in one direction the pen produced a thin line; drawing at 90 degrees to that thin line formed a thick line. It’s just so organic, so different to what I’d produce on my Mac.

This piece began as a little doodle to get used to the pen on a pad of A3 I keep beside my Mac. At this time I was doing an awful lot of signage and that meant an awful lot of 300+ meg files with very slow progress bars. Letting the pen glide over the paper was the perfect time filler. Day by day, progress bar by progress bar, the sheet filled up.

When it finally came to an end, I found myself just staring at the page. Having forgotten each of the individual marks I had made, it seemed everytime I looked at it, a new pattern revealed itself. Nice. From there it was a simple matter of scanning the art and applying some colour in Photoshop.

Italic on Black is the beginning of my love affair with fountain pens and I’m thrilled to share it with you.

Let me know what you think.

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