A good pen is essential for working in the visual journal — from writing and doodling to drawing and embellishing, a quality pen will serve you well, and it seems like most everyone has their favorite brand. For me, it’s my uni-ball Vision pens.
I’ve been using these pens for years, and I don’t really remember when I first discovered them. I always seem to have several stuffed in my pocket no matter where I go, but I am careful with the ones that I get. I make certain that the pens are marked as waterproof/fade-proof, and these are really good at any stage of a page. They easily draw and write on a blank page as well as on top of watercolor and collage. Since they are waterproof/fade-proof, I can paint over the ink once it’s dry with little to no bleeding. However the ink will bleed more often when I paint over solid areas of ink or when I paint over fresh lines of ink, but I accept this as part of the process. If needed, I can always go back over top of these areas and lines.
The regular uni-ball Vision pens and the Vision Needle pens both come in two sizes — micro (0.5mm) and fine (0.7mm), and the Vision Elite pens come in the micro size and a bold (0.8mm) size. The Vision pens are acid-free and available in a variety of colors, but not all colors are waterproof/fade-proof and can easily bleed and blend when painted over with water or watercolor. I normal carry a black, red, and blue, but I do like occasionally having other colors to use so I have a variety of colors stashed in my bag of portable supplies. Over the years, I have tried the Vision Elites and the Vision Needles, but I find the I like the ordinary Vision pens the best.
Although these are my favorite pens, I do have one big gripe. The regular Vision pens are not too airplane safe, and they can end up spewing ink due to the change in pressure on a flight. This is quite annoying when you end up with a big blob of ink on a page or end up with ink all over your fingers. If you fly a lot, these pens can give you problems, and making certain that they are carried with the tips pointing up can help a little to even the pressure inside the pen. The Vision Elite pens are airplane safe, but I find that the ink is not too waterproof, so there is a trade off.
The are only a couple of minor issues with the Vision pens that can be a bit of a nuisance. The first is that the tips can get clogged from time to time if you write over top of wet glue or acrylic paint, so it’s good to be careful not to be in a big hurry and allow paint and glue to dry thoroughly. The other issue is that the ink can take a while to dry on top of shiny surfaces, and if you draw over top of magazine images or slick postcards, you want to give the ink plenty of time to dry.
If you’re looking to add a good quality pen to your journal kit, I highly recommend the uni-ball Vision pens, and as a reminder, I am not getting paid or reimbursed in anyway for recommending any of the materials that I share. These are just the things that I personally use.