Sunday, June 13, 2021

An Infinite for Ballpoint Pen Day


6/10/21 Observing National Ballpoint Pen Day on trash day
Last Thursday was National Ballpoint Pen Day, which I have observed each year since I found out about it. On June 10, 1943, Hungarian brothers László and György Bíró became owners of the patent for the ubiquitous pen type that most of us associate with cheap disposables and promotional giveaways.

Ever since a few InkTobers ago when I committed to giving ballpoint a serious try, the basic, cheap Bic has been my first choice for drawing. Despite its lowly reputation, Bic ballpoints contain a unique type of ink that is ideal for building layers of subtle values, just like graphite. Although I’ve tried, I’ve not yet found an ink in other pens that responds in quite the same way. The gloppy, viscous ink in Bics that is not pleasant to use for writing is exactly what makes it great for drawing.

On Thursday, however, I thought I’d try something new: a Caran d’Ache Infinite. At six bucks, it’s pricey for a plastic-body ballpoint but very inexpensive for anything made by Caran d’Ache! It’s a fantastic writing pen – smoothly flowing with the gentlest knock I’ve ever used. Alas, as expected, the ink doesn’t layer the way a crappy Bic does. The thin, smooth ink is very nice for writing but just doesn’t have the same oomph. I’ve found this to be true of high-quality Japanese ballpoints, too, like the Uni Jetstream: The sad paradox is that if it’s good to write with, it probably isn’t as good to draw with.

I popped the Infinite into my bag for quick jots, which is what it was made for. As for drawing, I’ll stick with Bic Stics.


  1. I love Bic Cristal pens for drawing too. Very expressive!

    1. And you can't beat the price! I usually swipe them from hotel rooms! ;-)


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