Utensils are a reflection of the self.

Which do you prefer: a pen or a pencil?

It’s an important choice, believe it or not. When artists seem overwhelmingly picky about their utensils, it’s only because what they are about to create is an extension of themselves and they will be trusting their utensils with that weighty task – and want it done right.

Isn’t that why we looooove shopping for school supplies (but dislike what we are actually buying them for)? It just feels good to be using things we like. At least to me, it feels absolutely inappropriate sometimes to use a pencil; other times, a pencil would suffice. Other times, still, I would just rather type it. And vice versa.

It’s good to be picky, though. One is more productive when the work environment is right. Be picky within your means. Know your stuff.

Our utensils reflect ourselves, too. A pencil is gracious to the human nature – we make mistakes, and we like “quick fixes.” Pencils are perfect for letting our ideas flow without worrying about making a mistake because we can rub it away. Pens force us to be a little more picky; or we can view them as accurate chronicles of our thoughts, since we can’t erase them. Pens are more fluid and quiet. Pencils are sketchy and scratchy. But each have their own place.

I know certain people who “hate” certain utensils, refuse to use pens or pencils, and I know people who color-code their world and have a bulging pencil-case at all times, utensils for all occasions. I fall somewhere in the middle; I have my black pens that write fluidly and feel comfy in my hand, I have a stock of pencils (I can’t do math in pen; I refuse), and most of everything else I found in school, on the classroom floor or abandoned in the library – nice inky fountain pens.

It sounds like a dumb thing to discuss in great length, but personal preference is an important thing for artists. If you don’t know what helps you create – if you haven’t sampled all the tools to find which works best – you might be stopping up your work in an easily-mended way. It took me long enough to put my guitar next to the windows in my room so I can look out at the trees and my long yard as I practice, and now I play better than usual. Art is a personal thing, and its creation needs to be, too.

Of course, one doesn’t always have ideal creative circumstances, but knowing how to make the best of the situation – knowing what works for you – is the key to still getting something done, or being able to work anywhere.

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