Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Rotring Art Pen

Chloe's Chair
11.5" x 8.5", Rotring Art Pen and brown ink in Daler Rowney sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

When I first started drawing in pen and ink I struggled to find a suitable pen to draw with. However, once I came across the Rotring Art sketching pen I was in raptures - it's a very nicely balanced pen which seems to make the lines flow very easily! My favourite is the one with the exyra fine nib which I find I can use right way round and in reverse. There was no stopping me once I'd discovered their 'marron' sepia coloured ink as well - I started drawing absolutely everything in ink! 'Chloe's Chair' (above) is one of the first major drawings I did using the Art Pen. Chloe was my first cat and her very favourite spot for a quiet snooze used to be on top of the wide feather filled cushion of my yellow armchair.

I'm not the only fan of the Rotring Art Pen. Richard Bell of the Wild West Yorkshire nature diary mentions his a lot in his various posts and it takes pride of place in his page about his sketching kit as it also does in my website page devoted to the art materials I use.
The Rotring Art Pen has been a popular pen for many years and given long and faultless service to their owners. Now with a reduced range the Art Pen still offers a workhorse of a pen with its hand polished nib and well balanced barrel. (Blots Pen and Ink Supplies)
I'm extremely concerned to find that it's becoming increasingly difficult to find the Rotring Art pen in shops and on the Internet. Rotring has been a reputable brand for a very long time and has been particularly famous for its quality range of technical and art products. The brand range now seems is now becoming very much reduced - with more of an emphasis on lifestyle/designer pens!

Places I have been able to find the Rotring Art Pen in the past are art shops which have supplies targeted at the serious/professional artist rather than amateur/hobbyist/student - although such shops are themselves becoming an increasingly scarce commodity.

Suppliers I've asked are saying they're finding it increasingly difficult to get supplies of the Rotring Art Pen or to know what the supply time will be. There are also reports that less popular items within the brand range have already been discontinued. For example, Blots Pen and Ink supplies indicate that Rotring have discontinued:
  • nib sizes 0.6, 0.9, 2.7mm and all the LH sizes
  • all colours of ink other than black, brown and ultramarine.
My concerns started when I saw a report which indicated that the brand had been discontinued all together although apparently it is still in production.

Sanford now owns Rotring and, as a company, it seems to have a bit of reputation for eliminating brands and products which in their opinion don't sell well. I know that before they announced that Karisma coloured pencils (the European equivalent of Prismacolor) were to be discontinued we'd experienced many months of the pencils being difficult to find in art shops. One might imagine making supplies difficult would also make it rather difficult for customers to buy the pen and presumably that can mean suppliers will eventually simply stop placing orders?

This post is a bid to get people to start asking for the Rotring Art Pen again in an effort to make sure that this excellent pen does not disappear as well! If you want to try the Rotring Art Pen then see if you can find on at your local art shop or at one of reputable on-line suppliers whose websites indicate that they still stock the Art Pen or will order it. If you can't find an Art Pen in an art shop , make sure the shop owner - and Sanford - know you were asking.
The Rotring Art Pen is available in the following styles:
Sketch EF S0204980
Sketch F S0205070
Lettering M S0205160
Lettering B S0205250
Calligraphy 1.1mm S0205340
Calligraphy 1.5mm S0205510
Calligraphy 1.9mm S0205600
Calligraphy 2.3mm S0205690
Speaking personally, I've got about three of 'EF' which I use 'in stock' plus a supply of their brown ink cartridges. However, I've started to investigate suppliers again so I can make sure I've got 'enough' supplies - whatever 'enough' is. Cartridges are an international standard size so those for other pens could be used if the ink is suitable. Similarly purchase of a converter means that bottled ink could be used instead of cartridges - and I think one of these is going to be an essential purchase for me. I've been toying with using it with some of the acrylic coloured inks.

Finally - I'd like to send Easter Greetings to all those who celebrate Easter.

[Update (22nd May 2007): As this is proving to be a very popular post I'm going to keep updating the suppliers list with places where I see the Art Pen for sale. The latest to be added is Cornelissen's.]

[Update: 31st May 2015: I've updated all the links to the current ones. The problem with old posts is that links become dated after a while!]

Links to suppliers of the Rotring Art Pen.


Each of the links goes direct to the Rotring Art Pen page.
  • Heaton Cooper - pen (boxed with cartridges or unboxed); black or ultramarine cartridges; Rotring filler/converter (Alternative to cartridges to enable use of other inks from bottles.); Rotring black drawing ink (Easy flowing, highly opaque and lightfast. Waterproof and smudge proof when dry. Not suitable for fountain pens. 250ml bottle)
  • Blots Pen and Ink supplies - pen; nibs; cartridges (black, brown and ultramarine)
  • Cult Pens: stock a Rotring Art Pen - plus convertsers and replacement nibs and will do a special order over a certain sum
  • L. Cornelissen & Son - one of the central London art shops which I recommend. I saw Art Pens for sale in May 2007 (F and EF sketch pens and calligraphy pens. If you get a chance do get hold of their catalogue - it is a wonderful compendium of all thinks to do with pens and inks.  Otherwise you can consult their online catalogue (made available via Flipping Book)

Links to websites of people who use the Rotring Art Pen.

If you know of anybody else let me who extols the virtues of the Rotring Art Pen let me know and I'll add them to this list.