When I sat down to start writing this post, I thought it would be rather short. Then, I looked through my Airtable database and found that I’d purchased pens from 15 new-to-me brands this year! Wow! Now, when I say new-to-me, I don’t mean I’d never heard of them, just that I’d never before purchased a pen made by that brand.
I bought from a decent mix of indie and mainstream brands, which makes me happy. I like supporting indie brands. And I’ve found, especially recently, that my interest is piqued by indie brands more than mainstream brands.
Anyway, let’s start with mainstream brands to get that out of the way, then jump into the indie brands. FYI: The lists are in alphabetical order.
If you’d like to jump ahead to a specific brand, feel free to do so. Mainstream: Delta | Montblanc | Moonman | Opus 88 | Tibaldi. Indie: ARTUS | Chicago Pen Company | Den’s Pens | Divine Island Design | Gravitas Pens | Loft Pens | Mr. Cypress | Mythic Pens | River City Pen Company | Tamenuri Studio. Pen-Related: All in the Nib | Helen’s Creations | Stylo Suite
I fell in love with the cute little Delta Dolcevita Undersize when I saw it at Bertram’s Inkwell. It writes beautifully, and I understand why people love the brand. It will be interesting to see what the new pens are like on the brand’s relaunch.
The Greta Garbo was an impulse purchase. Bertram’s Inkwell had one for an astounding price, so I picked it up to have a Montblanc. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. It’s a perfectly adequate pen, but nothing spectacular. To be completely honest, I’ll likely end up selling it. If you’ve been wanting one, send me a message on Instagram.
I bought the Moonman X1 so I could have a Boheme-esque pen at a small fraction of the price. The X1 is a great little pen, and I know many people who love Moonman. I don’t know if I’ll get any other Moonman pens. It will probably depend on what other knockoffs they make.
I’ve avoided Opus pens because of the “unscrew-to-write” thing. I didn’t want to deal with that. But, my red Opus 88 Demo came as part of my first Stylo Suite nib purchase. I took it with me to London for the ink capacity. It’s a great pen. Easy to fill and clean. Flows well. I’m going to hold onto it for a while. If nothing else, it’s the perfect travel pen.
I picked up the Lipstick Red Bamboo for its appearance. And, honestly, that’s the best it has to offer. The writing experience is just OK, nothing spectacular. The section is too short for my liking. But it’s so. Damn. Cute! The tassel alone makes it worth keeping.
Those were my newly discovered mainstream brands, but I’d like to give a not to Pilot, because I’ve rediscovered it this year. After my unfavorable experience with the Vanishing Point — nothing wrong with the pen, just wasn’t for me — I virtually abandoned Pilot. This year, with my Custom 74, (Namiki) Rock Garden, and finding an old Metropolitan, I’m reminded of how much I love Pilot nibs.
I’ve known of ARTUS since my first DC Pen Show in 2017. While 2021 saw my first time purchasing from them, it also saw my second and third purchases. I bought the full Four Elements set — Earth, Air, Fire, and Water — so I’m sure you can figure out what I think of them. For clarity, they’re awesome! Their pens are literally portable fine art that happen to write.
Chicago Pen Company
Chicago Pen Company‘s Birds of the World series caught my eye when they released the Macaw. But, when they released the Ruby Throated Hummingbird, I jumped on it. It’s such a cute little pocket pen, and the material is stunning! I love it so much, it launched my Makeup Monday series, where I match my makeup to a pen.
As I mentioned in my review post, I discovered Den’s Pens through an Instagram post back in February. I knew, instantly, that I wanted one of his Baetylus models. And now I have 2! (Read the review post to find out why.) He has a portfolio of incredibly unique pen shapes, and I imagine he’ll continue to push the envelope of pen design. I highly doubt you’d be disappointed by an Den’s Pens model you order. And — added bonus — Den and his family are fabulous people!
Divine Island Design
I bought my Divine Island Design Seashore pen at the DC Pen Show. It’s fun and unique — both things I look for in indie pens. As I mentioned in my review, there is some space to polish up the pen a bit to make it even better, but I’m very happy with it as is.
I also bought my first Gravitas Pens pen at the DC Pen Show, though it was secondhand. I say first because I know I’m going to get another. I mean, have you seen the black with rainbow shimmer coating he’s working on? Shut up and take my money!!!! Anyway, the pen I have is sturdy and beautiful, as I’m sure his others are as well. And — fun fact — I happen to have it inked up this week and am writing this section of this post with it.
If you haven’t seen my Loft Pens review, go check it out. My Stacked Pride pen from them is phenomenal. Their attention to detail is amazing, and their communication is top-notch. I will absolutely be ordering another pen from them at some point in the near future.
I first discovered Mr. Cypress in January, and ended up commissioning a custom Día de Muertos pen — you can read the three-part series: 1, 2, 3 — fairly soon after. Turns out, my commission was the first pen they’d done without traditional Chinese elements and/or styling. And, it has inspired them to create other western-themed pens. Speaking of which, just two days ago at the time of writing, I purchased another skull-themed pen from them. I’m eager to see how they’ve improved.
Mythic Pens is another company I purchased from at the DC Pen Show. I make my point in the mini review of the pen I bought. But, to sum up the main points: their polishing is excellent and their attention to tiny, unexpected detail is superb. You will not regret a Mythic Pens purchase, regardless of the model.
River City Pen Company
I picked up my River City Pen Company pen because of the mixed materials. It doesn’t seem to be a common thing with makers. River City Pen Company mixes materials that I wouldn’t think to, and, more often than not, I find them very appealing. My pen is on the “chunkier” side, so if you like that, River City Pen Company is a good place to look.
Michal of Tamenuri Studio makes some amazing pens. There’s no other words for it. If I was independently wealthy, I would have so many of his pens. Part of what I like is how many of his pens are an excellent representation of a specific urushi technique. And the colors he uses are fabulous. Because Tamenuri Studio is a smaller brand, I find myself more interested in his pens than larger companies’ like Nakaya.
That’s it for the indie pen brands. But, there are three more pen-related brands I’d like to mention: All in the Nib, Helen’s Creations, and Stylo Suite.
All in the Nib
I’ve known Damien of All in the Nib for a while. He’s a DC Pen Crewer. So when I decided to get a couple of cursive italic nibs, he’s who I thought of. The two he made me are fantastic! It’s rare for me to go more than a week without one in use. Next year, I’ll be commissioning some obliques.
If you’re looking for a beautiful pen sleeve, look no further than Helen’s Creations. I have two of her sleeves, one for the Water, and one for the Fire. I’ll order ones for the Earth and Air soon. And maybe a four-slot roll for when I have the whole set inked at once.
I waited 1.5 years to get a Stylo Suite nib after deciding I wanted one. And it was worth every moment! I love both my Spencerian and my X Wing Harpoon. I love them so much, in fact, that I want another of each.
Well, this certainly ended up longer than I’d expected. But it’s nice to reflect on new brands I’ve tried. I have some “new-to-me” brands I intend to try next year, but more on that in my upcoming 2022 wishlist post.
So, have you purchased anything from any of the brands on my list? Do you plan to? Or do you want to? Let me know in the comments! I love hearing from you.