Writer / Historian / United States Marine / New Yorker
What do you use black markers for in your day-to-day activities ?
Black ink is the only authorized color to write on any document in the Marine Corps, so I use a black marker quite frequently. We use duct tape for everything in the Marines so I often use black markers for labelling at work.
During my off time, as Skeme says in Stylewars “I use them to doodle”.
I also use them for making my own labels and stickers. I’m always mailing stuff out and nothing works better for labelling and lettering than a black marker.
What types of black markers do you prefer to use ?
A crisp, broad Pilot Jumbo Marker has always been number one in my book. Their nibs are strong and durable, and you can refill it with ink. I’ve always been a person that doesn’t want the nibs of my markers messed up. I used to recycle nibs from one marker to another to preserve the nib quality.
For outdoor use I prefer oil based black ink mixed with drops of red ink. The red tone is barely visible through the black, makes the ink harder to paint over, and gives the ink a resistance to the fading effects of the sun and other exterior conditions.
When it comes to rocking labels with uncoated surface I primarily use permanent ink. For gloss stock labels, oil based ink covers like butter.
For subway posters a nice juicy black mop is my top choice. I come from a time when we made our own markers. We used xerox paper to get that purple ink, and whatever else inks we could acquire. Through trial and error, we would make our own ink concoctions.
For sketching in blackbooks I love to use a variety of markers from the classic brands Design Art Markers and Chartpak A&D markers. The Super Black by Chartpak A & D and Sakura SG7 reign supreme.
You compile and publish a zine called The Old New York. What’s it all about ?
The Old New York is a publication documenting an era I grew up in, giving you a taste of the way it was, not the way it is. It has influences of the 80’s and 90’s when crime and NYC graffiti was at an all time high and New York was solely New Yorkers. It exhibits graffiti solely on a raw vandalism level.
What characteristics would a bespoke The Old New York marker have ?
The outer shell material would be gun metal casing. It would come in 3 different types of nibs – a fine tip, bullet tip and chisel tip. I would model it after the Pilot Jumbo. Their casings are pretty kool looking.
A major factor for me with markers is that they must have a way to be refilled.
I really like the Pilot V Series Super Color Chisel Medium for it’s refillable backing feature. It’s a great marker, exclusive to Japan.
Please tell me about the Marker Of The Day series you’ve been putting together ?
The Marker of the Day started at the beginning of 2012, solely on Instagram. I just recently added it as a feature on my website.
It was inspired by a site called Just for Markers that I had came across in June of 2009 when I got back from deployment.
My brother SURE introduced me to the site and inspired me to look at it on a daily basis. He had this thing where he wanted to collect black markers from all around the world. He was younger than me but we shared a love for the craft, and of course markers. He passed away in 2010.
That site really opened my eyes to different black markers. It really made me start to go on serious marker hunts, like a lion does his prey. There should be a Markerholics Anonymous program for this. My wife thinks it’s pretty out of control the amount of markers I continue to accumulate.
What are the first black markers and marker brands you remember using when you first started writing ?
The use of markers was introduced to me from a very early age. It goes back to the ones you would get from Woolworths, you know the 30 pack.
The first marker I used was a Carters Marks-A-Lot.
I quickly graduated to making my own markers when an older cousin told me I could make my own with a deodorant roll on, a school board eraser, and ink made from purple rexon paper diluted with alcohol.
After that I was hooked on markers. I started using whatever broad tip marker I could get my hands on, as long as it was easily concealable.
Where would you pick up markers from in your younger days ?
I would acquire markers from Pearl Paint. When I entered high school I got an after school job working for an architecture firm. I had to order markers for the architects at work and I would order extra for myself on the company tab. Whenever I would go drop off blueprints for work, i’d visit every art store until my bag was completely full. The good old days of being young and a carefree vandal.
You service with the United States Marine Corps has brought you around the world. What countries have you visited and what marker products have you acquired from these places ?
I’ve visited the Middle East, Africa, Norway and a few other parts of Europe and Asia. My time in Europe introduced me to Edding markers. I like the durability of the nibs and their overall branding. Asia is the Mecca for markers. Japan introduced me to many brands like Magic Ink, Sakura, McKee, Mr. Bill, and different types of Pentel. I also discovered Monami from Korea, a brand comparable to Magic Ink from Japan.
Is there a marker that is Mil-Spec or under contract by US Armed Forces ? What use of markers have you seen in the field ?
As far as Mil-Spec we use Skilcraft, which are rather crap quality wise. We have our own Sharpie as well.
In the field we also use Markal paint markers, which have replaced the medium point Uni Paint markers.
We have a wide selection of markers that can be used but primarily stick to those just mentioned.
Favourite black markers of all time ?
Ultra Wide and Mini Wide, Magic Ink, El Marko, classic Pilot Jumbo, and last but not least the Marsh 99 Felt Nib Marker.
When is the next issue of The Old New York zine coming out and what other projects are you working on at the moment ?
Due to my current deployment, the next issue of The Old New York has a pending release date. My best advice is to continue to follow my Instagram and website for up to date information.