Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Sharpie: A Rediscovery


I fell in love with the Sharpie some years ago when I created a storyboard for a short film that I wrote some 24 years ago. A good friend gave me a storyboard format to work with and when I went to get some pens and the local PX I opted for a Sharpie.

“A laundry marker,” he asked with incredulity. After all it would make sense to most a the time that a sharpie would be reserved for your mom to write your name on the inside of your underwear with.

I liked the Sharpie in that it was a bold marker but not as bold as a Prismograph or as narrow as the cheap “El Marko” or technical pilot pen. The nib of a sharpie was wedged shaped so that you could make medium thickness or very bold lines. The ink flowed fairly thickly so that the lines created were very saturated.

What’s great about the Sharpie is that the ink is waterproof and permanent. Once it gets into the fibers of the paper it is pretty much stuck there. It does well on most porous surfaces with the exception of tile and glass.

Over the years what had initially started out as a laundry marker had diversified into an array of products of different colors, sizes and purposes. Sharpies come in every size and color and are used for just as many purposes.

When I started working in Hollywood it was clear that Sharpie was the working pen of choice on the set but off the set as well. Cameramen use it to mark film rolls up for packaging for the lab and on freshly loaded cameras to denote stock, size and speed. Off the set it is not unusual to see a star carry one for impromptu autographs. Sharpies work exceptionally well on glossy photos.

I found out a year ago prior to its release that Sharpie was planning on releasing a metal barrel version of the pen. I tracked the rumor down for about a year until I could finally get my hands on one. I pretty much use it daily and gets as much milage as the MontBlanc and more than the Parker Duofold.

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