Welcome to a world of fountain pen inks and bleach, a visually impactive illustration and lettering investigation that is starting to catch the imagination of an international audience. Fountain Pen Ink Art is a project that re-imagines an already existing product originally intended for a now increasingly obsolete purpose and exploring possibilities to enhance its potential for uses within other creative contexts. Where taking risks and making mistakes is encouraged, to create exciting visual outcomes.

By way of introduction, my name is Nick Stewart. Much of my working life has been spent honing my skills in service to many of London’s top creative agencies and studios and also as an educator – eight years at the University for the Creative Arts as a sessional tutor. I am currently a Creative Designer at Stewart2, a branding and communications agency, based in Rochester, UK.

It was at Brighton University, where I was tutored by the renowned calligrapher Miriam Stribley, that I was introduced to an abstract use for fountain pen ink and bleach in lettering, illustration and design.

Fountain pen inks are mainly dye based. When the inks are applied to wetted paper surfaces, the coloured dyes that make up the inks are released from solution (chromatography). The chromatic process is very much serendipity led and the beauty of the final visual outcomes are invariably dictated by this. This project also champions the concept of alchemy or in this case, creating a gold effect through subjecting fountain pen inks to the destructive /creative behaviour of bleach. Click here for more.

Fountain pen ink, although not known for much else aside for being a liquid used in fountain pens, does offer a plethora of unique qualities that once fully appreciated can seriously benefit existing and future creative pursuits. Below are listed a few that feature in my workshops:

Creation through destruction – through deconstructing the ink with water and bleach a new diverse art medium is created for – watercolours, lettering, calligraphy, illustration, fine art, doodling journal keeping and the unique medium specific swatch painting.

A 360 medium – through using fountain pen inks and bleach, an artist can work this medium ‘dark into light’ and ‘light into dark’ and across several disciplines.

Re-invention and repositioning – re-imagining and upscaling a stationery product intended purely for handwriting and repositioning it as an art medium.

Lyrical visualisation – fountain pen ink and bleach works well on a lyrical level – good/bad, light/dark, destruction/creation – and can be perfectly and dramatically visualised through the medium.

Alchemy, chromatography and serendipity – fountain pen ink art workshops help people to think in more abstract and creative ways; to take chances; to tune into serendipity; to not be afraid of making mistakes; and, to help people recognise and react to new opportunities and change perceptions.

Establishing a new creative genre – in the last four years I have witnessed a significant development in fountain pen ink types: from standard to heavy sheen, shimmer, duotone and very recently, shimmer sheen. Whether used for art on their own or as a combination, the visual effects are unique only to this most unexpected of mediums.

I hope you find the content of this website to be of interest and that we’ll meet at a workshop in the not too distant future. If that’s not possible, you can still experience all of this inky magic with my online course. For the teaser video click here and the online course details here.

Thanks for reading.

Nick Stewart (updated October 2019)

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