About the ballpoint pen

When people talk about art, devices and materials there are some kind of ranks. Generally ballpoint pen art is considered to be low art, some say it’s because ballpoint pens only make solid lines. But is that the case? Is this form of art getting enough attention?

Trent Morse manager editor at Introspective traced a the history of the ballpoint pen all the way back to Giacometti, with his vastly and densely drawn portrait heads, and to Alighiero Boetti who was the first man to use the ballpoint pen as the primary medium, all the way to the Korean artist Il Lee who is considered to be the best ballpoint artist of today. He uses a special technique that requires him to heat up the tip of the pen and let the ink flow more freely. We learned that paper needs more ink than canvas.


Morse divided the ballpoint pen art in two categories: “Creatures and Characters” and “Space and Structures” that include figures and faces in the first section and geometrical shapes and abstractions in the second. The artist Thomas Nozkowski the famous artist who uses lines to create his abstract cartoons falls in to the second category, while the famous Italian artist Seb Patane falls into the first.

So what draws that many artists to the medium of ballpoint pen? Rebecca E. Chamberlain has said that her love for this type of art does not come from the possibility to make all kinds of different lines, but rather to the ink itself and the blueness that it makes. She drains the ink from the Bic pens and uses it as paint; her work is based on portraying interior spaces such as offices. She basically takes the pens back home.


Artist Dawn Clements gives the ballpoint pen the credit for the fact that the pen does not smudge in the way the pencil does, she thinks that the pens are clean and easy to use. She also portrays the interior.

These words from artists that come from all around the world give the ballpoint pen a good name. They try to explain what drained them to the medium.

Ballpoint’s art potential is evident to the maximum in the work of Belgian Conceptualist Jan Fabre, who explains why he likes the ballpoint pen. He says that pens are cheap and easy to use and carry. Drawing is something that he loves and with the ballpoint pen he found the way to do what he loves anywhere he goes. His favorite pen is the famous, Bic pen. He draws on many different things such as bathtubs and wood houses.


Thomas Hirshhorn a German conceptualist is also talking about his passion for the ballpoint pen. He was asked by critics why he was using the Bic pen, whose produces is financing and supporting the right-wing French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen. His answer was straight forward and he thinks that there’s no place for politics in art. He uses them because of the things many other artists have said, they are cheap and universal.

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