Art expresses life, beauty, and at times suffering that reveals an unspoken communication between artists and viewers. In many ways, writing with a fountain pen explores artistic abilities through several methods, which include writing about daily experiences in a journal, jotting down a swift expletive on a scrap of paper, and even sketching an image on a fine piece of paper.
Fountain pen usage though is not totally about functionality because before we click on the ‘complete your purchase’ button, we are attracted to the pen’s appearance. Some pens are little works of art created from many material varieties. I am going to navigate you through a short list of eight fountain pens that evoke similarities between the pen and art historical styles from the last few centuries.
Platinum 3776 Century Karakusa Blue and Jean Clouet’s Francis I
Platinum 3776 Century fountain pens are not only beautiful and light weight pens, but they also come in a variety of finishes including blue celluloid like this Karakusa Blue model. The Karakusa features a silver-filled fillagree patterning that expands across the pen’s barrel and cap. This opulent and deluxe patterning connects Jean Clouet’s painting of Francis and the king’s luxe and richly colored garments. Francis wears garments of the high renaissance era intended to display his vast wealth and power. The stitched designs of his garments strike many similarities with the Karakusa’s hand-engraved shapes.
Esterbrook Estie Tortoise and Baroque Era Still-life
Baroque era still-life imagery utilize contrasting light and dark hues with a dash of dramatic lighting. The tortoiseshell Esterbrook Estie embodies similar Baroque attributes with in its flecked brown and tan contrasting tones. This Estie would be right at home resting on a tabletop in a breakfast image by Clara Peeters.
Leonardo Momento Magico and Impressionist Brush Strokes
Leonardo’s new Momento Magico series that came out earlier this year are very striking with their richly colored flecked resins. Looking closely at the pen materials, it is difficult to overlook the distinctive use of several colors that combine and create visually appealing writing instruments. These visual textures are very similar to the brushwork utilized during the Impressionist era. Colorful brush strokes were applied to the canvas (and at many times) straight from the paint tube. One object in the painting could contain several hues to communicate a single color. The Momento Magico pen resins operate using the same methods. For example, looking closely at the Millefiori material it appears red, though upon closer inspection, you will notice that the red is comprised of blue, orange, and lighter pearlized red shades.
Ryan Krusac Pens and Dong Qichang
Late Ming Dynasty artist Dong Qichang created landscapes comprised of expressionistic fine line details. Qichang’s marks were calligraphic in nature to convey stories about the terrains he depicted. As far as fountain pen designs, the closest aesthetics I have encountered that come into the realm of this style are the pens created by independent pen maker Ryan Krusac. Carved into naturally shed moose antlers, Krusac’s intricate designs communicate interesting scenarios that include dragons and mermaids.
Kaweco Brass Sport and Constantin Brancusi
Kaweco Sport Pens are uniquely shaped fountain pens that are sturdy enough to ride around in a pants pocket. The Kaweco Sport in brass has an alluring shiny and smooth texture much like a brass Constantin Brancusi sculpture. Brancusi’s sculptures for the most part is minimalist in style, and compact in size, much like the Kaweco Sport.
Otto Hutt and the Bauhaus
The Bauhaus school of the 20th century was perhaps one of the most influential eras in art history. The school’s legendary status was earned as an institution that encompassed all forms of art, functionality, and thoughtful design. Utilizing Bauhaus-like shape, the Otto Hutt Design 05 is a writing instrument that preserves the Bauhaus spirit of multitasking. At first glance, this object appears to be a great looking stylus. What is not immediately detectable underneath the textured cap hides a small fountain pen with a smooth writing nib.
Venvstas and Minimalism
Venvstas fountain pens are not classically shaped like the other fountain pens. Derived from a single piece of linear carbon fiber, Venvstas fountain pens exhibit similarities to Minimalist artist Frank Stella than to the likes of a classic Montblanc cigar shaped pen. Venvstas pens look like a monochromatic fragment plucked straight from Stella’s 1950 Getty’s Tomb painting. Both pen and art are bold and provocative by challenging what has already been established and accepted.
Retro 51 and Pop Art
When I look at Retro 51 Tornado fountain pens, I think about how Andy Warhol would have loved the use of products, logos, and fun imagery of coffee and pizza on these pens. Pop Art was all about combining the everyday with high art. In a way, Retro 51 combines images of the everyday like flags, baseballs, and school buses into the fine writing realm of fountain pens. Their pens are not stifling by any means—they incorporate whimsy into a highly collectable writing instrument enjoyed by enthusiasts of all ages.
Images and information are pulled from various internet locations including the Goulet Pen Company, Levenger, Leonardo Officina Italiana, Ryan Krusac Pens, Goldspot Pens, JetPens, and Penoblo