My favourite pen or pencil would probably be a fat soft chunky graphite stick. I have quite a few, (5B to 9B), and coupled with random bits of crayon, charcoal, and scrappy brushes I use them to create messy lines and textures for my picture book characters. But the work-a-day pencil I can’t live without, the one I use every day for writing and for drawing, is my Staedtler Mars 2mm clutch pencil with either 3B or 4B leads. Most of my books have been illustrated with this in some way, and I’m not sure what I’d do without it. I gave up using ordinary wooden pencils years ago as I’d always end up getting ones with the leads broken all the way through, and it was frustrating to sharpen them only for the lead to keep dropping out. I’m sure there are fancier clutch pencils out there, but my well worn Mars does the job.
I’m currently experimenting with dip pens with a variety of nibs for fiction illustration now, and I sometimes use broken off sticks too when I need to makes things really splotchy and scratchy looking.
Okay – confession time – I’m really bad at using actual sketchbooks. Most of my genuine working notes and sketches are done on loose cartridge paper. I’m a little bit phobic of nice sketchbooks because it makes the work inside overly precious and never good enough. There are some beautiful hardback sketch books available – but they’re just too scary. I’d buy them and they’d sit there, pristine and unused, making me feel guilty.
However, I have recently been trying to develop the healthy illustrator habit of filling-actual-sketchbooks-with-observational-sketches-and-ideas… so I’ve opted for these pretty cheap, but nice looking Seawhite ‘Eco’ ones, from Cass Art. I like the brown cardboard covers and the paper inside is thick enough to take a wash and has a bit of tooth to it. It works well for dip pen and ink as well as pencil.
They come in a variety of sizes from aspirational-whip-it-out-of-your-handbag-on-a-moving-bus size to I’m-actually-going-outdoors-to-do-proper-sketching size.
I also have a nasty habit of doodling all over anything I write so I avoid beautiful notebooks too otherwise they end up a terrible mess! I just recycle bits of printer paper instead.
The doodling never ends!
Other regular stationery delights include:
Rubbers! I’m always buying new rubbers and they need to be the small Cretacolor Monolith ones (not the big ones as they are always too stiff for some reason).
I love little cardboard boxes which are good for storing inks, crayons, rubbers, charcoal, bits of sponge and other important things. I think I have more boxes than important things at the moment, but the boxes are so lush I can’t resist them.
I’ve recently rediscovered those liquid metallic silver pens! Brilliant for drawing snowflakes on Christmas card envelopes.
I’ve illustrated picture books mostly, and a couple of fiction titles including the Dougal Daley series by fellow PapersPensPoets interviewee Jackie Marchant.
I had a Christmas picture book out last year – A Very Corgi Christmas written by Sam Hay was published by Simon and Schuster in November. It’s the story of two Corgi pups on a snowy adventure around London on Christmas Eve, and their attempt to smuggle themselves back into Buckingham Palace in time for Christmas Day. The book was part of a national poster campaign on London Underground and National Rail, so I naturally had to run around taking photos of the posters. Very exciting!
I have also illustrated Rapunzel (Fairytale Classics) written by Stephanie Stansbie, which is due out in March this year. It is available for pre-order on Amazon.