Amy M Lavine: Understanding artists’ pens

Amy M Lavine, the owner of SKETCH Art Supplies in Hudson, New York, knows very well that different types of pens produce lines with different characteristics and different uses. “We stock nearly a hundred different pens and markers here,” she says, “and they’ve all got their own particular pros and cons.”

Amy M Lavine
Amy M Lavine

As Lavine explains, pens can be broadly separated into a few different categories, including dip pens, fountain pens, felt tips, ball points, rollerballs, and gel pens. SKETCH even carries an inkless pen now, she says, which uses a special metal alloy that leaves a fine trace of the material when written with to produce a mark.

Different types of artists’ pens, Lavine explains, can have very different qualities. The pressure applied while writing with a fountain or dip pen, for example, can be varied as a person is using it to create a line with fluctuating widths, whereas a felt tip or gel pen will have a more even and consistent line. The shape of a pen’s tip or “nib” will also affect the shape of the line it produces, which is why chisel points or brush tips are used for calligraphy while fine points are used for technical drawing.

At SKETCH, Amy M Lavine is always happy to discuss the different types of pens and their pros and cons when helping customers make the best selection for their purposes. For any questions, you can also email her directly at