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Mena Suvari - 2001

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Stanley Ray Brown (1991) Bic Pen on paper

Dave Archambault

Tom Waits (1990) Bic Pen on paper. Original photo Anders Peterson
Guest artist - July 2001

I'm one of those artists who describe themselves as having "no formal art training". As a result, I sometimes feel uncomfortable with the title "artist". I just seem to have a knack for doodling, and the ball point pen is the perfect instrument for the doodler. I've been drawing, sketching, lettering signs and such for as long as I can remember. I have no formal art training. I just sort of picked it up as I went along. In fact, I recall getting a 55 in high school art class. The same teacher who gave me the low mark once told me to go "for coffee" I think he said. I may not have heard him quite right, if you know what I mean.
After flirting with watercolor, pencil, charcoal, and all of the other "traditional" media, one day I picked up a normal blue ball point pen and did a sub-standard picture of Warren Zevon from an album cover. My friends thought it was friggin' fantastic, but it didn't look that great to me. It was blue for God's sake. I forgot about it for 5 years or so, and one day I discovered that they make BLACK ball points. This was a revelation to me and I decided to try again. Much better. As everybody knows, people aren't blue, they're black and white. Anyway, I never looked back and have been a black ball point man since.
"Why ball point?", you ask? "Grey" is the answer. Technical pens don't do grey. They do black and white crosshatches that look grey from a distance. The ball point has the ability to produce such a microscopic line that even tones of grey are achievable. Much better for reproducing photographs, which is what I do.

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