Nov. 1, 2020

15. Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict

15. Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict

Today’s guest requires a special introduction 

He once spent an entire month on a remote hilltop with pen in hand, the tender silence only broken by the sound of nib on paper, writing line after line of the same character just to achieve a number 4 that brought joy to his soul.

He is a Namiki Nerd, a Lamy Lover, a founding member of Team Safari, the King of Pen, 



The Pen Addict blog was founded in 2008, the Pen Addict podcast followed in 2012, then NockCo and recently, a partnership in Spoke Pens and a Twitch stream for the Pen Addict.

 Lamy 2000 Blue Bauhaus

What is your Top 5 Ice Cream list looking like these days? (Refill #57)

Mint chocolate chip

Pralines and cream

Moose Tracks

Sea Salt and Caramel



What fountain pen brand do you think has the best, most consistent quality?



What pen are you writing with today?

Stylo-Art Urushi


What pen do you find yourself reaching for more these days?

 Spoke Design - Classic silver
Spoke Design Roadie
Caran D'Ache 849


What is one thing you wished people knew about pens? 

There is always a better pen (speaking to newcomers)


Nock Notecards
Midori MD A5
Yoseka Notebook
Clairefontaine Triomphe Notepad

Are there artists that you think are doing amazing work that stationery lovers need to know about? 

Raymond Pettibon

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Timothy Curtis

Joey Feldman



Drive-by truckers

Laura Jane Grace



What is your favorite purchase (stationery or not) in the last 6 months?

R.E. Load Bags

Nike Air Max


Where can they find you on the Internets?




 You can also write to me at:

Stationery Orbit
 Attn: John West
 P.O. Box 621
 Golden, CO 80402  

Support the show (


SO ep 15 tk 1.sesx_mixdown


[00:00:00] John: [00:00:00] Episode 15 of stationary orbit. I'm your host John West and today's guest requires a special introduction. He wants to spend an entire month on a remote Hilltop with pen in hand, the tender silence only broken by the sound of nib on paper writing line after line of the same character, just to achieve a number four that brought joy to his soul.

He is a Namiki nerd, a Lamy lover, a founding member of team Safari. Hey, it's Brad Dowdy!. 

Brad: [00:00:29] Oh my gosh. That's amazing job. I had to duck away from the microphone because I don't have a mute button. Here. So I wasn't laughing while you were doing this. That's pretty amazing. Especially like the small references and everything in there.

Um, thank you. I think that's pretty amazing. I, I missed these introductions. That was awesome. 

John: [00:00:50] My pleasure. Yeah. I kind of had a feeling that it had been a while since you'd heard somebody go over the top for an intro. I wanted it to give you a gift on that one. So [00:01:00] for anybody that's not familiar with Brad Dowdy.

He is the founder of the Pen Addict blog. And it was founded in 2008. The pen attic podcast then followed in 2012. Then he founded NACO, which is a specialty pen Casemaker. And recently he's been in a partnership with spoke pins and he also has set up a Twitch stream for the pen addict. So good morning.

Brad: [00:01:24] Hey, good morning, John. How's it going? 

John: [00:01:27] I'm really excited to have you on the show. It's been something that. I think that anyone that's getting into podcasting nowadays in the stationary world has the pen addict to thank for at least some of the motivation to get there. And it's definitely exciting for me to be able to sit down and have you on the show.

Brad: [00:01:46] Yeah. I'm excited to be here. I love what you're doing. I know we've talked before. I'm super happy to support everything. Stationary orbit. I love that you got it started and you're on quite the roll right now. So. Uh, you you've gotten over the hurdle of [00:02:00] getting things going and I love, uh, seeing a stationary orbit in my podcast feed.

John: [00:02:05] Well, thank you. Um, I was definitely excited when I finally got past the episode seven hurdles because I kept reading this, this trajectory for most early starting podcasts that they hit. They hit that episode seven and then die so 

Brad: [00:02:24] well, you've done a great job. I like how you're integrating all the interviews.

In there. So it's, it's been perfect though. That's a challenge. It's a hard thing to do is to put together interviews. That's always a lot of work and a lot of recording work. So great job by you. 

John: [00:02:38] Thank you. I've, I've gotten very lucky with some of the, the folks that I've had on for interviews, and hopefully I can keep that streak going and you're definitely helping that.

So I'm going to jump right into this. I need to ask some questions in this interview that are just things that. Are are really inside baseball to the pen addict. Uh, but I'm going to ask them anyway, how is your [00:03:00] campaign to get Lomi to hire you going? 

Brad: [00:03:02] I L I love this question so much because somewhere in my delusional mind, I think I can tell LaMi what to do.

Like some, you know, joker on the internet is able to tell some, you know, huge international corporation. What they think they should do with their product lineup. So I know, understand that I'm completely delusional, but like to answer the question directly, how's it going? It's going terribly. Like they have no clue who I am.

Like they have no concept of Brad Dowdy or the fanatic or what I think they should do as a brand. But I think for me, it just comes from a place of love for LaMi, my love for LaMi and seeing what they currently do and seeing how. With just a few tweaks, they could do things a little bit differently. And for me a little bit better, like I think LaMi has a real problem on their high end of pins, which is really maybe not their market, but maybe it's because [00:04:00] they've never done a good job with it before, like anything above price point above Alami 2000, which is like 150, 180 bucks.

Yeah. It's just, it's just a mess in that price point. And they thrive in the lower price points, right. That's their bread and butter. So. I want to see things there's options that I would bring to the table at the top end and the bottom end. But, you know, they hit, they have no clue who I am nor were they ever.

John: [00:04:25] Oh, I, I agree with you. I think it's important to realize that it is kind of an inside joke for the pan addict and it does come from a place of love that you, you guys really just want to try to try to give that feedback through the one. Avenue that you have to give it through. So the, I, I, I accepted, uh, at that level of you guys wanting to give back and wanting to try to help a group out that sometimes can't help themselves in what, some of this stuff that they're doing and like releasing the Bauhaus [00:05:00] LaMi 2000 only in an ETF nib.

How do you do that? How do you make that decision? 

Brad: [00:05:05] Yeah, it was really crazy. Like I get, if they're going to do that, but they have to throw a bone to another color on a standard issue release. If they're going to do that, I think it's just it's. Everyone wants that interesting color macro lawn LaMi 2000, and that was so limited and so restrictive that it was, it was hard to fathom that.

Hey, they're going to do this and not do Hey, let's make 3000 purple ones or something like that. You know, maybe, maybe technically they can't meet, you know, maybe that's why they have no clue who I am because they say, well, people don't know anything about, about what we do and it will remain that way for the rest of my life.

But I still get a kick out of playing LaMi designer and saying, hi, hire me lobby. And I'm never going to stop doing that. 

John: [00:05:58] Yup. I'm going to [00:06:00] get another one in here. Just kind of a. A little more inside stuff, but it's definitely something that, that I saw early on in my, my subscription to the Penn attic refill, which if anybody out there is not already a pen addict, a member and have their membership and get their, their weekly dose of refill in their inbox, I highly recommend it.

Brad does an amazing job of really. Putting his own thoughts down there, as well as picking out some really key stuff, really prime stuff from the stationary world from the previous week. So I highly recommend anybody go out, become a Penn attic members, almost entirely for the refill newsletters that he puts out.

And one of the questions I had Kim came from a pretty early. Refill. What is your top five ice cream lists looking like that these days? 

Brad: [00:06:55] I totally forgot about this. That's that's really old. That's like first year, maybe second [00:07:00] year, something like that, right? That's a pretty old one boy, top five list. I don't even remember what the old top five was.

I bet I, if I made a new list, I bet I'd have a pretty good crossovers. A mint chocolate chip at the top. Frauleins and cream is there. I like the. And these are general, right? Like I could get into like, okay, my favorite Ben and Jerry's, you know, flavors or combinations, something like that. But in the general terms, the, the next one's probably like the moose tracks, which is vanilla chocolate swirl and peanut butter cups and sea salt and caramel and any like coffee espresso.

So those are probably kind of my top five current ice cream flavors that I would 

John: [00:07:39] go for. Yeah. I seem to remember peach being on the original list, but I think most of the rest of that list was pretty, pretty true to 

Brad: [00:07:46] form. Yeah. Pretty true to form and peach only because I'm in Georgia. And if you can get it homemade or from one of the farms that turns it themselves, you're not going to get any better ice cream than that, but that's few and far between to [00:08:00] have access.

John: [00:08:01] Completely agree. What was your Dr strange pen moment when you stopped worrying and learned to love fountain pens? So I think 

Brad: [00:08:08] this is two separate things that are kind of the same overall idea, but it's two very specific things. One is that it's okay if it's everywhere, whether it's on the nib, on your hands, on your page, whatever, like I used to, I remember vividly when I got my first LaMi Safari and I use the Partridge that came with it.

How the ink. Would come out in between the times. Right. And get on the nib. Like when you're writing, it just kind of made a mess right there in, in my old way of thinking, I was like, well, why is there ink all on the outs on the top of this nib, it's driving me crazy. And I would keep a paper towel and try to like edge off the ink, just so it would be perfectly clean nib at all times.

And I learned that that was just ridiculous. That was like the antithesis of. What my experience should [00:09:00] be. And then secondly, the cleaning and inking of pens, it took me a while to understand that you're going to have blue fingers for a half a day. That's just fine. Like it's okay. You don't have to scrub in to clean a fountain pen and reading a fountain pen.

And if the ink gets on things, that's okay. Now I wouldn't be happy if I knocked over a bottle. That's I don't mean that, but like, if it's on my thumbs and my index fingers and spilled on my hands, I don't care anymore. So that was a big hurdle for me to be quite honest, as someone who never really used fountain pens for years to understand that it's okay to be a little bit messy.

And the second part of that, and it's kind of the similar idea is that no matter how much I spent on the pen. I still used it and carried it the same, whether it was a $3 pen or a $300 pen, I would put it in my jeans pocket. I would put it on my desk. I would take it to the coffee shop. I would throw it in a bag, [00:10:00] like to not treat, I don't treat.

I take care of my writing instruments. Like I'm particular that I'm not throwing them around, but I'm also very particular in that it doesn't matter what the pen is for what situation I'm in. I will use whichever pin at any time in any situation. And like I'm prone to say, I'm not running a museum. Right.

So I, I buy these pens to use them. And if that means, you know, I have a very expensive pen that I want to take out of the house and go sit at a coffee shop and write, then I'm, I'm going to do it. That doesn't, I don't have to protect it in the house. So. Once I got over that, those hurdles of making a mess and using the things, no matter what all bets were off, it was it's cost me a lot of money since then.

John: [00:10:46] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. When I got into it, the, the market had really started to turn around because I think when you started into pens and then slowly into fountain pens, The [00:11:00] film pen makers really hadn't I started turning out heavy duty mounts of like specialty pans. I mean, I think the Japanese market was an exception because the Japanese market is an exception all on its own.

But when it comes to the American and market, I really don't think you saw a lot of the custom makers at the levels that they are now. So when you went to a pen show, You saw a lot of vintage stuff that was there and yeah, it was a bunch of folks that were out collecting. And I think that you've helped usher in a whole new generation of people that are buying fountain pens to be used.

And I think that is a really important distinction to be made. I'm glad you did. 

Brad: [00:11:42] Yeah, absolutely. Like I could not be that person. I've never been that person nor will I ever be that person, like I'll buy the collectible thing or I'll buy the rare, unique thing. And use it, right. It's not meant to be stashed away and not everyone has that philosophy.

And that's fine. Like, um, I'm not here to keep how you [00:12:00] want to use and collect pens. But man, I, I, if I'm going to spend all kinds of money on pens, which I have, I've spent lots of money on pens. I am sure as heck going to be right in there, writing with them and taking them out and enjoying them for what the writing instruments that they are.

John: [00:12:17] Absolutely. Yeah. That's, like I said, it's definitely a new, I think it's a new mindset just because of how many new manufacturers are coming in and how many new makers there are and how the analog world has really blown up. Uh, I'd heard some numbers previously. Where I was talking with Kirk spear. And he was saying, when he got onto the fountain pen pages for Reddit, they were down in the maybe hundred thousand level, a couple of hundred thousand level.

And now they're, they're over a half a million folks that are out on the fountain pen Reddit. So, I mean, yeah, it's still a very small amount of the overall population, but it's still enough to carry a huge market. 

Brad: [00:12:59] Yeah, 

[00:13:00] John: [00:13:00] absolutely. I think that wraps right into the next question I had, which is what fountain pen brand do you think has the best, most consistent quality?

Brad: [00:13:08] Ooh, this is a good question. I think the easy and straightforward answer and the answer I'm going to go with is Pelican. I, and I am not the biggest Pelican user out there. Like I love pelicans. They're there nibs just generally aren't for my writing style, but I appreciate everything that Pelican does.

I've never had less than. A hundred percent expectation met experience with any Pelican pen that I've either owned or has passed through my hands or I've tested or used from someone else. It is the pen that you put in your hand. And it makes you say, Oh, I get it right. It's it's just locked in no matter what size, because they have it.

You drained your size no matter what's nib, no matter which style, no matter what material, it's always a Pelican pen. And that's super hard to accomplish. I mean, I guess 200 years of [00:14:00] practice will get you there. Um, so maybe that's unfair, but it's very, they're very consistent in their manufacturing, high quality, great pens.

I, I can't even think of another. Answer that I would be happy with in Pelican. Like I'm a Japanese pen fan. Right. And I would rank Pelican as the answer to this question over all my favorite Japanese brands. 

John: [00:14:21] Yeah. I was actually a little surprised by the answer I had and I don't disagree with it cause I, I love pelicans.

I love the Pelican I have, but I was honestly expecting pilot to be the answer. 

Brad: [00:14:33] I think pilots nibs are pretty consistent. I, I guess their barrels are reasonably consistent. I just don't know that they. Do enough to like, I look at Pelican and their lineup of models is huge or pilot is big, but that the scale that Pelican does it to be that perfect all the time.

I wouldn't change my answer. Like I just think they, they are [00:15:00] practically flawless from a manufacturing perspective. 

John: [00:15:03] That's perfect. And like I said, I don't disagree with the answer at all because. I've been thoroughly impressed. And like you said, it's, it's something that they've had so many years of practice doing it.

They were one of the first fountain pens ever created. So they've definitely got that in the bag. 

Brad: [00:15:19] Yeah. And like, I own, I think I can think of maybe four sailor pens that I own. And then, you know, I probably own a dozen sailors, right. I mean a four pelicans and like a dozen sailors. Right. But that doesn't mean that I don't think elegant is the best.

John: [00:15:34] Yeah, and I think Pelican, and I'm glad that you mentioned sailor because I think Pelican is starting to get on the bandwagon the same way that cellar had of trying to make more special edition stuff, more custom stuff where they're, they're trying to play to the new crowd a little bit more than the old black pen crowd, which, uh, my Pelican's a black pen, but, and I absolutely love it, but I think that they're definitely going in the new direction.

Brad: [00:15:59] Yeah. I think they've knocked [00:16:00] out of the park, the last four or five years. 

John: [00:16:02] Yup. We're we're mentioning some pretty expensive pens here. I think that leads into a, an important question. Do you think there is an ideal pen case material? 

Brad: [00:16:14] No, I don't because there are questions about everything. I think glass is probably the ideal pin case material.

Right? If you're going to leave it on your desk, it's not going to affect your pin in any way, shape or form, right? Like if you leave it on a wood desk, you could get it scratched. You know, if you're using a pin case that's nylon, you know, maybe over decades or years of heavy use and taking it in and out at scratches, but you're going to use a leather, you know, there's di considerations you're gonna use nylon there's, you know, roughness considerations.

If you're going to use different softer fabrics, there's dye, color considerations. Like I. I don't think there is a perfect pace, unless you are [00:17:00] running a museum and want to keep it in glass. Like I said, and right. Like I use my pens. I understand if I'm going to use, like, I make nylon pin cases. Right. So, you know, I put my Arushi pins in nylon pen cases all the time.

You know, now that said my Arushi pin in my nylon pin case, isn't going in and out of my back pocket 50 times a day, nor am I removing. The pin from the nylon in case a hundred times a day, right. It's going in the case, going in my bag, going to its destination, coming out of my bag, coming out of the case and writing.

Right. So there's not a lot of action going on there, but to say that if there's a perfect material, I don't think there is one because you're talking about chemicals and dyes and wear and tear and things like that. If there is one, I, my vote goes for glass. 

John: [00:17:51] I think the one thing that we we can agree on is that, uh, an ideal pen case means no touchy touchy.


Brad: [00:17:58] Yeah, no, the pins do [00:18:00] not touch. Right. So like, even like your, your wooden pin cases, right. I have like cigar box pen cases and they have fabric cloth in them, you know, is there a dye on the cloth that I should be aware of? You know, how was the wood finish? Like is the lacquering going to, you know, damage my pins.

You know, maybe over decades and decades, we might see something, but in all my years of doing this, I've never seen any Penn case, really do any damage to any product with my own eyes. And I use a lot of benefits. 

John: [00:18:29] Yeah. And I think that there's a lot to be said for the fact that there's, I mean, there, there are definitely some Hardy or.

Fountain pens out there and hardier pens out there in general. But in the overall scheme of things, you need to be careful with fountain pens because of the, the non-water resistant ink and most of them. And just the fact that they are reservoir pens to begin with. I think that you just need to be careful.

And if you're, if you're that worried about your, your pancakes material or for EDC kind of [00:19:00] things, maybe you should just go get a titanium pen. 

Brad: [00:19:02] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like there's, there's a million different combinations that work or whatever situation you're in. I think the case material comes in pretty low in consideration of, you know, any regular uses.

Like if you're an artist, you know, I'd worry about how I'm going to store my markers and brushes the best way to not damage them. You know, if I'm a writer. And I like expensive fountain pens, you know, what is going to, you know, allow me to carry the number of pens that I want and the notebook that I want to do my job the best.

And it's the material. It's mostly style based, right? If you'd like something and you do your research, you know, go for it. I don't know that there is any perfect material that's going to solve. That's going to be the answer to every question you have about will this material affect by pen because there's too many variables.

John: [00:19:58] Yep. So we were talking about [00:20:00] different cases and different expensive pens and stuff. I think this gets into one of the questions I think is interesting to me is do you think that customer critics are the future of fountain pens? 

Brad: [00:20:12] This is tough question. So my, my gut says yes, but that's a very complex answer because my brain says, well,  acrylics are the realm.

Of, you know, the super fans like us, the 1% of 5% of the fountain pen population knows and sees these custom acrylics, like we don't see Pelican doing this, right. Pelican will do artistic and different color pens that will do different color plastics, you know, maybe that falls into custom acrylic. Right.

So that's also 

John: [00:20:48] a plastic. Yeah. But we saw Leonardo get into it. Right. 

Brad: [00:20:52] And that was an awesome change. That was super cool to see. I mean, mainly because. One, I [00:21:00] love Leonardo pins and two Jonathan Brooks is one of my closest friends. So seeing that happen, I was like, yes, this is what I want to see. But I don't know that that can scale to where that would be the future, right?

Like, you know, once it gets into your sailors and lobbies and pelicans that have to produce these things at scale, those are the. Fountain pen companies that really move the markets in what markets do, where us as Penn addicts, you know, we have, we play a much, much smaller role in the scope of these large companies.

So what I want all of these companies to use different custom acrylics and short runs and things like that. Yes. But. I would want it more for the makers behind those things than necessarily mine usage. Like I would love to see sale or say, Hey, here's five makers. We're going to make five different pins with and feature as a product under the sailor umbrella, as opposed to just [00:22:00] the sailor doing something more, more generic.

I would like to see the large companies like sailor, mommy, Pelican, pilot, to bring in. These more niche makers into the fold. And then we might see that be the future, like custom acrylic, like we're talking about, but until then, I really don't think it is, but I don't know what it is. Like I said yes. In the beginning, but that's like super, there's a lot of context around that.

Right. It's like for me and you, yeah, maybe, but for the general fountain pin fan, I don't think it's the same answer. 

John: [00:22:36] Yeah. I, I agree with you that your, your gut feeling is that you want it to be because you want to continue to see these highly successful custom acrylic makers. Become more successful, but at the same time, when Leonardo jumped into that, they only had 50 blanks of each type for those two pins and it [00:23:00] made for an absolute worldwide feeding frenzy to try to get your hands on one of those, even at the price point that they were being sold at, it was still just absolute chaos from what I saw, trying to come up with somebody who could actually buy one of those pens.

Brad: [00:23:16] Yeah, exactly. And it was so successful that they're going to do it again, and they added a zero to the next run. Right. Like, and to see that success just fills my heart. Right. Like, I am so happy to see what's. I mean, Leonardo is generally a small company, right. It's just, you know, a few people running a shop, you know?

So are we going to see that from Aurora or Monto grappa? I mean, Monta grappa does. Some symbolism, very unique stuff. And I love Monta grappa, but it's the price point is really, really up there. So like, there's this, it's a very complex question and answer because there's so many variables, just like everything.

[00:24:00] John: [00:24:01] I don't know. Well, this will feed into the next question, but this is something that I definitely want to hear. From your perspective of having been a pen blogger for over a decade and having been on the pen addict podcast for 400 plus episodes, you've got a real grip on the history, the recent history of fountain pens in the, in the Penn community.

What's the biggest surprise or biggest development that you've seen in your time with the pen addict. 

Brad: [00:24:27] So you don't know my answers beforehand, but I don't think you would be shocked. To know that my answer to this question is similar to what we were just discussing about the previous question. And I think the, the biggest surprise to me is the rise of the community, which, I mean, the, the people involved as a consumer, the people involved as makers, you know, the new businesses that have sprouted up in the past decade, the new fans of.

Writing and analog tools that we've seen join our little realm over the past [00:25:00] decade. It's completely mind blowing. Like I never set out to have a business around based around pens, but I was able to like six or seven or five or six years ago. I decided that, Hey, I think maybe this could be my full-time job.

That shouldn't happen. Like that's not a normal thing at all. And just back when I, when I started the blog. I'm sure there were custom pin makers out there. I'm sure there were dozens, if not hundreds of them, but making things for the community now, like the past decade of community, like there weren't as many options, I don't think.

And it's, it goes hand in hand with the rise of the internet and the rise of digital devices and the access that we all have to be able to communicate with people across the world. And say out loud, Hey, check out my stub nib, right? They, those aren't things you say at home or in public, you know, around your, your house or your [00:26:00] city or things like that.

But you go online and you say, Oh, check out this, this pink ink in my purse, metallic nib, look at the shading. And someone goes, yeah, that's awesome. Witching. Cause I don't want to go buy it. Like that is been the most awesome development over the past year. And then to see so many creators. Come along for the ride in the space, man.

It just, it makes me smile. 

John: [00:26:24] Yeah. And there's no doubt about it. That you've been a cheerleader for this whole movement. I think that there, there needs to be some credit given there because when you started getting into the pen shows the common reaction was, well, who's this guy, and now they're not asking that question.

That it's, well, we know who that guy is and he's, he's bringing a lot of fans along with him. So it it's definitely, uh, upped your stock. That's 

Brad: [00:26:51] one of the happiest things that has ever happened to me. That I can make a difference in Penn shows, which in the past have been [00:27:00] seed as seen as, you know, the, the realm of the, the vintage pin and the stodgy old white guy to see the change and vendors to see the change and attendees.

And if I played a little role in that, I, that's probably the, one of the things I'm most proud of, you know, whether that's a fact or not, I can't say, but. If I could hang my hat on anything to open this up and there's believe me, there is still a lot of work to be done on that front, but I am, I am here for it and I'm here to support and push that community along.

I love the fact that it's gone from like one year practically getting yelled at for the amount of people that we had in a show to immediately turning around in, into how can we do that again? That, that makes me happy. 

John: [00:27:48] Yeah, absolutely. And I think that you're right, that when you're talking about before the rise of stationery, the rise of.

The analog world and fountain pens that the [00:28:00] internet had such a, a key key role to play in that, in that you had people from all over the world able to communicate and really being able to geek out about what they want to geek out about. And I think a lot of what's going on now in the U S especially with the, the incredibly.

Higher levels of women that are coming into Penn shows and have come into the community through bullet journaling, through inks, through the limited edition fountain pens. I think that the Japanese have really helped. Stir things along with this analog and fountain pen revolution. And that train of thought leads me into my next question, which is how much trouble are you going to be when you finally get to visit Japan?


Brad: [00:28:45] question's totally unfair. John, how'd your wallets. Now you can ask me like, I'm an open book. I've said it a thousand times. You can ask me anything and I will give you an answer. I say that to everyone, anytime [00:29:00] asking me what. The effect of Japan's going to be on my bank account is scary. I don't know it's going to be, it's going to be a legitimate problem.

Um, it just, luckily I have about two more years to do you think about that? Cause it's going to be we're shooting for 2022, which was our, our goal pre COVID times. Hopefully nothing will, will change that and we'll be back in better shape by then, but it's going to be. A mess. I don't, the difficulty is no matter how much I save and plan ahead with all this time that I have is still how I'm going to manage what I don't know when I get there.

Right. Because that's what Japan is. My expectation is like, I know what sailor has and what pilot has, and we can, you know, we're all tied into the internet. We can find out all these things and all these unique stuff. But until you get over there and to like physical [00:30:00] shops and talking with friends and discovering things need that's where I'm going to run into some trouble.

I'm pretty sure. So how much trouble will Japan be? It'll it'll be all the trouble is all of it. 

John: [00:30:13] Oh, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you and Mike to get to go over there. And if, if folks haven't seen this before every year, Brad and Mike for the pen addict, do a pen out Kickstarter that helps get them to a couple of shows every year.

Usually one of them, it will, one of them is going to be at the Atlanta pen show, which is Brad's backyard. And then they've visited New York. They visited Toronto and they definitely have their eyes set on Japan at some point. And I think that's going to be a, a Kickstarter for the ages. 

Brad: [00:30:47] Yeah. It's going to be great.

Um, there's going to be, it's just, it's going to be awesome. Like I, I looked forward, I've been looking forward to it for years and to kind of have an idea and a plan of that this is going to happen and to be able to work [00:31:00] towards that. It's pretty cool. 

John: [00:31:02] No, I love it. And I really, like I said, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you guys that the world will return back to normalcy.

And we'll, we'll, we'll build to start working on real scheduling again here shortly. 

Brad: [00:31:15] Exactly. 

John: [00:31:15] Me too. So mentioning, scheduling, what are you riding with today 

Brad: [00:31:20] and this in relation to the last question, but it's one of the most custom Japanese pins that I have, which was just a total fluke I'm using the Steelo art, which is a small.

Husband and wife maker from Japan, uh, art, when he saw the pen is a Arushi in , which is gold leaf. So it's a Arushi pen with gold leaf underlays. It makes it look Y fall leaves, right? It's kind of brownish reddish with golden yellow undertones. It's just a really pretty Arushi appreci pen. And it's got like, Gold dust on the cap.

And I don't know, it's just a really great man. One of my favorite pins and what Steelo art does, [00:32:00] what got me into Steelo art besides the craftsmanship of their pens, was that they build two different fittings, which allows them to use either a sailor nibs or pilot nibs. And I was like, well, I'm already interested in your pins.

And you're telling me I can pick out any sailor, nib unit or any pilot nib unit, and we can make this work. And they're like, yep. So yeah, there you go. So I have a pilot stub nib in this, which when I bought this pen, like three years ago, it's called the SU nib Sioux tab. And you couldn't really get these in the U S I think they're more readily available now, but when they would travel to the San Francisco, Pincho.

I would be sure to pick up something from Steelo art. So this is a beautiful pen and has a really, really cool nib in it that I love. So that just happens to be what I'm using today. And that's, what's going to get me [00:33:00] in trouble when I go to Japan. 

John: [00:33:03] I love the answer and I, I honestly couldn't have thought of a more Brad Dowdy answer to, to have you writing with an absolutely I'm sure.

Gorgeous customer Roshi pen. Like that I'm feeling a little, uh, bougie here, but I, uh, I'm actually riding with a vac, a twisty VAX 700 R that has got a funny story behind it. I thought I had lost this pen. I thought, honestly, I thought it had been stolen and I had to go out and buy another VAX 700 R or because I love the pencil so much that.

I had to replace it. And I was actually moving a couch yesterday and we thought we'd lost something else in the couch. And I was really going to town on this thing and I'm like fell down into a crevice. I'm like, that feels like a pen. What kind of pen is that? [00:34:00] And I pull it out and I'm honestly surprised I stayed standing because I couldn't believe that that VAX 700 R had been stuck in the couch for a year.

And. Completely given up on it. The thing is filled with California. Andrew Nopal took the thing. I mean like ran upstairs, open my notebook and started scribbling on it. Would you believe that Penn started right off the bat? That's amazing. I think that says so much about how well two is B has turned their quality control around that.

The that some forgetful clumsy found pen addict in, in the U S can lose a fountain pen for a year, pull it out of the couch and write with it. Uh, I think that just says a lot about what they've done. 

Brad: [00:34:48] Yeah. That's crazy. I don't know. Yeah. I don't know. What's crazier, number one that you found, or number two, that you found it and it works.

John: [00:34:55] Yeah, it was. I wouldn't have been surprised at all. If it had decided that [00:35:00] the. Nib it dried out and I'd spend like two or three days soaking it to try to get it to ride again. Not, not today. That's awesome. Penn, do you find yourself reaching for more, more of these days? 

Brad: [00:35:14] It's funny. It's less fountain pens and people would think, and it's been that way for the past year or two.

Right? I still use fountain pens probably daily. If not, I certainly have, you know, two or three inked up every week that I'm reaching for, but I like. You know, different gel pens, different rollerball, pens, different ballpoint pens. You know, I, I use a lot of the stuff that I make, which probably like, hopefully that should go without saying like, you know, I believe in the things that I make because I've made them because I want to use them.

So like I use a bespoke pen, you know, all the time I use a classic silver one, you know, all the time. And I use a spoke roadie all the time. I use a Karen dash Bob point all the time. And it's like, well, Brad, thanks a lot. Those are you. You sell those. So that's not really helping me to believe [00:36:00] that, like, those are your favorite bins, but that's what I reach for.

And wooden pencils, honestly, I, I go up and down on my wooden pencil usage. I love them, but I don't always use them. And right now I'm, I'm back on a black wing cake. They've had a couple of releases that I've really liked in the eras and in the 19th amendment one. So those two I've been using pretty regularly.

Yeah, those are really the pins that kind of live on my desk. I'm going to grab them and take a note. I'm going to enjoy them. Like I'm literally staring at, besides the pin. I'm at my recording desk. So I don't have a lot of stationary here. And there's four pins on it. One is the Steelo art, or just mentioned.

Two is the retro 51 celebration three is the Perron dash kinetic eight 49, and four is a pilot brush pen that I use to address some gloves. Like, that's it. That's what I'm looking at. So it's not, I'm usually not overt up in fountain pens, which is probably what most people think would be the answer. 

John: [00:36:56] Yeah.

And I, I completely understand where you're coming from because I'm [00:37:00] sitting here staring at my desk and I've got a micron  I've got a couple of Tombow brush markers, and then I've got my Twispy VAX 700. I've got a vacuum MADEC that's on the desk, but I picked up just cause I'm trying to get back into vintage pens a little bit, just to try to figure out what that world is like, uh, again, but yeah, I completely understand that.

You, you make what you want to use. That's that's what makes this world, this part of the world in, in fountain pens and being a pen addict. So cool because people are making what they want to use and that, that amount of enthusiasm and passion can't be ignored and can't be substituted by a large corporate entity.

Brad: [00:37:48] Completely agree. Could not agree more. 

John: [00:37:51] One of the things that I'm I need to be doing is I actually need to be getting more into picking up more of your index cards [00:38:00] because, and I'm going to drop this one in this wasn't part of the, the show notes or questions I sent to you, but I'm actually going to completely bypass.

Doing a digital Zettel Casten. And I actually want to set up my own physical papers. That'll cast. So expect a large index card order from me shortly, but this leads into what kind of paper are you using and what kind of paper are you finding is a favorite right now 

Brad: [00:38:29] you're blowing my mind with the Zettel cast and have a lot of comments and questions for you on that.

But we'll save, we'll save that for another show or, or an email after the show, but. Right now I've been digging Madorie MD stuff. Pretty much anything that they've been making recently past two, three years has done a, have done a great job. I'm making, uh, the  notebook as one of my main notebooks. These days, I'm looking at this one that I'm using right now.

I've got about, I don't know, 20 or 30 pages left to finish this one out. So I'm looking [00:39:00] forward to that. That's probably easily my most used paper product. These days I do use the knock note cards, a ton. That's probably my second most. And then outside of that, I use for a lot of product reviews. I use two specific products recently, and this always changes.

I'm not completely, you know, pinned in to always using the same thing for years and years, but I'm using the second notebook, which has a very interesting performing paper with fountain pens. It makes the colors really pop. And the Clare Fontaine Triomphe, which is a pure white paper, which you don't get a lot of notebooks these days.

Like the Madorie MD has a yellow tent. You just take a notebook, has a yellow tent or a green tent, whatever you want to call it ivory. But the Clara Fontaine page is pure white, which I think helps seeing some colors like I'm doing product use. So that's kind of, I probably using less paper now, uh, certainly than pens it's, it's pretty locked in with the Madorie stuff.

[00:40:00] The not cards. And then those two other products that I I've review in, you know, which is a week thing. 

John: [00:40:06] Yeah. I completely agree with the clarify on Tane. I think that they make wonderful. Letter-writing stationary for that stuff. Uh, I've actually gotten a lot into using Rhodia for letter writing and I had just picked up a Mara Mon uh, Nima scene notebook.

That's a flip top that I'm going to start using for some of the letter writing, just because that paper is so good. It just took me a while to get past some other, the form factor and like the printing style that they have on their, their notepads. 

Brad: [00:40:38] Yeah. If Maura Amman made a bound book, like Madorie, it all bets would be off like that's would, that would go ahead of Madorie.

But the form factor is with the spiral bounds and the shapes are pretty unique. I love them, but I just don't use them as much because I want that traditional  bound book. And, uh, [00:41:00] if more ever did that, that'd be good. 

John: [00:41:02] Yeah, absolutely. What is one of the things you wish people knew about Pence? 

Brad: [00:41:08] Ooh, that's a good question.

This is going to sound weird. I think I I'm trying to come up with an answer for this, or like a really spectacular answer and I don't think I have it except the one thing I always think about with pins and the more I think about it, this is probably, this is a terrible answer. Is that there's always a better one.

And I'm answering this question, not for the people listening to this podcast, right? I'm not telling people listening to the podcast, that there's always a better pen out there. I'm telling this to the people who are just getting into it for the first time. And you're starting with the pen you find at home or at the office or in a desk drawer or in school that you're buying it ball.

And then you figure out, Oh, look at this pilot, G2. That's pretty cool. This is the best band I've ever used. Well, You're just at the beginning of your journey, [00:42:00] there's always going to be something even, you know, the same $3 drill pen, there's better gel pens and that, and you know, if you like mechanical pencils, there's probably one that might suit your style a little bit better.

And if you like these types of colored pencils, well, this type is really, really spectacular. And also the same, you know, this, my, my answer doesn't necessarily translate to the high end of fountain pens. I don't think that's a fair answer. But I think in the beginning, like, especially for people starting, and that's one of the biggest things that I have to focus on daily is that there's new people into this pen stuff every day.

Like every day, like I'm talking to people who are just discovering pens, you know, bid stationary for the first time. And they want to figure these things out is that you can always find a better pen than you have, especially at the beginner level without spending any more money. 

John: [00:42:53] Yeah. And I completely agree with that.

And I don't think it's that weird of a, an answer when you look at it, because I think [00:43:00] if you just add the extra word in there of, there's always a better pen out there for you, there's always going to be something that's going to suit your style better. That's going to suit your interests better. That suits your comfort level better.

And a perfectly good example of that is that. Your word, you're using that style of graph pen and I'm using a Twispy VAX 700. There's a vast difference in where they were made, how they were made, how much they cost, but they both bring joy to us. And that's why we use them. Yep. 

Brad: [00:43:39] And that's why this goes back to the earlier question about when did I decide what was my turning point to like really get into fountain pens?

It's when I treat my secure a pig pigment, micron, the exact same as my Nikaya right there in my mind. There's no usage [00:44:00] difference in those. I'm not going to use them any differently, you know, beside the gaping chasm of what they are. They're no, they, their job is to write and they do it in different ways and they accomplish different things.

And there's obviously a massive cost difference, but I don't treat them different. Right. 

John: [00:44:19] Yeah, absolutely. I'm going to actually, I'm going to steal a question from you for this one and blank lined grid or dot grid 

Brad: [00:44:31] graph is, is my number one choice then dot bread, and then pretty much everything else. Like blank is fine.

I don't, I almost never use line. I will, I would never choose lined on purpose. Put it that way. Like nothing against line. I'm just not a journal or, or a page after page writer. I'm a note taker and ID or Jotter, right. And list maker. And, you know, I write a lot, but I don't have to have the [00:45:00] guidelines of lines.

And I just think breath is the best for that for me. And then got Britt is, is pretty close right behind that. If I can get. It's harder these days to find a good graph paper line. That's, you know, not too dark, not too light, not too narrow, not too wide than it is defined a good doc red paper. So I tend to do go with dots, but like the Madorie I'm using right now, it's called a, the white bread, which has a white graph page on it.

But you can barely see the white graph. It's a, it was a unique one they did for later, like the anniversary. Thing, but like my next notebook that I'm going to use is a Massoud notebook and it's going to be blank. So we'll see how that goes. 

John: [00:45:48] Yeah. That's excellent. I'm actually gonna add one in there. What if I added radical grid?


Brad: [00:45:54] that would actually, that would probably go behind line. I really dislike radical grid. It throws me off. [00:46:00] It's very pretty in pictures, but I can't use it effectively. Yeah. It doesn't work for me for some reason. 

John: [00:46:08] And I'm actually the opposite of that. I wouldn't put radical grid above dot grid just because dot grid has a certain elegance to it that I prefer, but I I'm too much of a child of the eighties and having grown up with the space program and seeing the radicals on the cameras there, there's just a special place in my heart for radical grid.

So it's hard to 

Brad: [00:46:31] find. Yeah. And you like, it's kind of like graph. It has to be small and faint colored. So, you know, to get a good reticle, then they can get, tend to get too dark. And then they get too distracting for me where somehow and graph never, never has. Um, 

John: [00:46:48] so are there any artists out there that are doing amazing work that you think that stationary lovers need to know about?

Brad: [00:46:54] This is a brutal question, John, this is almost as unfair as some of the other questions because. This list [00:47:00] is, is enormous, which it's so big. It's hard, impossible for me to like pull the things out of like, I really like, I need to go through my Instagram feed one day. I was actually thinking about writing this before you even mentioned, the question is like, what are my favorite Instagram?

Feeds that aren't necessarily stationary related. So this is like exception, like stationary exception. Right. But I talk about stationary all the time where I get inspiration from. So I'm always looking at artists and listening to music, which I categorize, you know, music and visual arts, you know, hit me pretty much the same way.

There's a thousand answers for me to this question. I jotted down the first few that came to my head and as I jotted them down, I was like, wow, these are all like, really similar styles of artists. I'm on a real big Raymond Pettibon kick right now for those who don't know who that is. He was the artist of the famed black flag music group.

They're [00:48:00] famous for bars icon. Well, that was. 40 years ago, and he's still been producing art to this day. So like I follow, follow him all of his work. Uh, John Michel Basquiat, who has passed away, you know, a long time ago, but his art still resonates with me. Timothy Curtis is along those same lines, just like very detailed, kind of aggressively detailed art, you know, high detail like Joey Feldman, good friend of mine.

It's the same. He falls in the same bucket. As all of these artists are not there. They're putting a message on the page and it's up to you to interpret them how you wish, you know, I guess that probably goes for all artists, but this style of art, if you pulled all four of those artists up on the same page, you could see kind of what I'm into.

In a nutshell, they wouldn't look all that dissimilar. Despite when you get down to it, they're extremely, extremely [00:49:00] different than. I I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of musicians, number one, drive by truckers who it sounds like it's a band you would never want to listen to in your life. Like you have these preconceived notions about what this band is, but they are one of, probably the greatest bands of the past, you know, 20, 30 years just in style and lyric writing and political message and standing up things.

What, uh, that they believe in. And then Laura Jane grace would be right in that same category. She is just a superstar in my mind. And, you know, I, I like very political music and political art, even though like I'm not necessarily outward political. It doesn't mean I don't have a lot of beliefs and things that I stand for strongly, um, in my, in my personal life.

So drive-by truckers and Laura, Jane grace really fit those molds for me, along with all the artists that I follow. 

John: [00:49:56] Oh, and that's the reason why I, I actually asked this [00:50:00] question of every single guest I have and I love the answers. I love all of the answers because that's what makes everybody unique. And there's honestly, there's nothing more unique to me than somebody's love of art because it has to be completely personal.


Brad: [00:50:19] That's what I was going to say. Art and music are way more personal to me than stationary where ever be right. Stationary. I can share my personality with art and music builds my personality. 

John: [00:50:31] Yeah. And I completely agree with that. That was actually something that hit me really hard recently. It was the death of Eddie van Halen and I'd, I'd forgotten how much he meant to me and my early youth.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks. 

Brad: [00:50:46] Absolutely. Absolutely. And these things. Like, unfortunately, these days, you know, as, as we get older, older, our, uh, our favorites are getting older along with us. And then one day they're gone and it's like, wow, that really affected me in a way I did [00:51:00] not expect. 

John: [00:51:01] Yep.

Absolutely. One of the last questions for you, what is your favorite purchase stationary or not? In the last six months 

Brad: [00:51:09] you have the best questions, John. I just want to say I'm impressed. I love, I steal a lot. I love, well, yeah, like. This is like my favorite type of podcast interview. It's just these awesome questions.

And as you can tell, I'm vamping here, because this was extraordinarily hard to answer. So if I answered anything stationery related, I'd be lying. Like, because I get so much stationary, not by so much stationary. It's important to me still, like I was one of the lucky ones that got one of the Leonardo. Uh, primary to manipulation pins.

And I love it. Like it is not currently inked, but like it's next on the list to give like a thorough breakdown and review for, because it's an amazing pen, one of my favorite things, but I'm into other things like kind of hobby wise. I bought a bag recently from [00:52:00] reload bags. That was custom. I got not custom made for me, but I got to customize it fully, like pick up.

I pick out all the panels and, you know, pick out the colors and. Do all these things that came out really cool. I don't know if I think I've shared a picture of it on Instagram. Maybe I need to do more with it. I've been wanting to carry it for a while to get a better idea of what it is before I shared more about it.

I'm also a bit of a sneaker head too. So I bought a pair of Nike air maxes that are red nylon and Woodland ammo, which. Those are pretty much my jam right now. So those, those things, I'm pretty happy about those two 

John: [00:52:38] purchases. That's awesome. Yeah, I'm uh, I'm, I'm just a couple of degrees off of being Sasquatch, so I can't wear a Nike and, uh, yeah, a huge wide foot.

So I end up, uh, looking to small alternate brands like ultra and Topo for tennis shoes or running shoes. [00:53:00] Very cool. Absolutely. All right. Well, that pretty well wraps it up. Where can they find you on the internet? Because there are so many places 

Brad: [00:53:09] this list has gotten very long. So the best thing to do is go to

I have everything linked there from my Twitter account, which is under a different name to my Twitch stream, to all the things that I make with Nock and Spoke and, uh, the Pen Addict shop and the Pen Addict membership. It's all at That's your, that's your one-stop shop for everything I have going on.

John: [00:53:35] There you go. There's always something to be said for a landing page.