Thursday, October 8, 2009

New DS Art Ballpoint Pens

I hear it all the time in my travels around the country, from wonderful people who appreciate my quirky ballpoint pictures: “Some pen company must pay you a lot of money to endorse their product!”

From their mouths to God’s ears. After thirty years of using a ballpoint as my primary medium, I can best answer them (and often do) by quoting the young ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, when asked why he hadn’t yet performed on radio.

“I’ve been turned down by experts!”

Yes, my artwork has come to the attention of several of the big ballpoint pen manufacturers, and we have been pleased to receive favorable reviews from some of them. So far, though, none of these companies has found a place for my drawings in their strategic marketing plans.

Their collective oversight has only encouraged me to find other ways to promote my art, specifically in terms of this unusual medium. Why, for example, couldn’t I find a pen that relates in some way to a particular drawing, and then sell the pen along with the picture?

(Or vice versa: sell a picture along with the pen? This caused me to pursue another round of contact with the various ballpoint companies, with a repeat of the results noted above.)

Why not consider creating my own line of pens?

Taking the idea a step further, why not consider creating my own line of pens? It’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever done. If I could come up with some way to produce a ballpoint pen to my own specifications, and then tailor the design to reflect a certain aspect of this or that drawing, we might have a way to promote the artwork and the medium.

No time like the present to try. So I got in touch with Mike Hulsey of MikCon Creations (, to talk about creating a special series of pens for the Gator Aid picture, part of a fundraising effort to support Louisiana’s Wetland Watchers (see August blog entry below).

Mike obtained a small supply of recycled cypress wood, and is now hard at work turning out the first official DS Art ballpoint pens. The selection of cypress fits perfectly with the efforts of the Wetland Watchers, who plant hundreds of cypress trees each year to help re-establish a healthy ecosystem along the shores of Lake Ponchartrain.

Ten of the new cypress pens will actually be used to draw the Gator, which is currently in progress here at the studio. These pens will be framed with a special set of ten Artist Proof prints of the picture, and offered as premium presentation pieces for the Wetland Watchers fundraiser.

This is just the beginning. If all goes according to plan, we will be issuing select pen designs for any number of future drawings. If these are well received, we may be persuaded to issue a standard line of DS Art ballpoint drawing instruments – unless of course one of the major pen companies makes us a better offer first.

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