In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian takes on a dozen pen questions! Rapid fire!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) cjcxx- Instagram  (09:47)

Is there still any innovation in fountain pen engineering or is it pretty much down to decorative /budget considerations? (ps. why is octagonal a thing?!)

  • Fountain pens have been around for 150ish years, so a lot of technology has already been developed for them
  • given that it’s not a booming, growing industry the technological innovation has slowed a lot
  • there are some innovations in materials, nib design, filling mechanisms
  • a lot of the changes that come are decorative though, that’s very true
  • Octagonal is cool for some 😉

2) justjudyart24- Instagram (13:46)

What are the signs I need to flush/clean my pen’s nib?

  • it’ll usually be a flow thing, ink drying up
  • check to make sure the pen is full of ink
  • if it’s been a couple of weeks, fill (with the same ink) or clean it and refill it
  • if you see anything stuck in the nib
  • if you’re changing ink
  • check out FP101 Pen Cleaning and maintenance

3) clreville- Instagram (17:14)

If you made it your mission to get as many people as possible to use a fountain pen which combinations of pen and ink do you think would help you accomplish this task??????

4) nataliebland- Instagram (21:52)

Any speculation on the Pilot 100 year anniversary pen?

  • sadly, I know nothing! We should learn things this fall, maybe late summer

5) cubanfire2- Instagram (23:53)

Dear Brian, I’m an efficiency addict and also a fledgling pen enthusiast. What upgrade to the general writing experience would you say provides the biggest bang for the buck: high quality paper, high quality ink, or a high quality pen? In my limited experience, when I began using fountain pen friendly paper I was astounded by how well my cheaper pens equipped with cheaper inks performed.

  • ooo, this is a toughie!
  • well, the fountain pen is the biggest leap, you have to at least start with SOMETHING
  • assuming you have a halfway decent writing pen tho…
  • in my earliest experience, I found that paper actually gave the biggest leapfrog in writing performance, it’s soooo overlooked
  • Try a Rhodia pad, or Clairefontaine, it’ll change your world
  • the fountain pen offers the richest, most tactile change in the writing experience which is why I think it means so much
  • ink gives the greatest visual change in the writing experience

6) @kouteichi- Twitter (28:02)

Since writing is a huge part of any fountain pen enthusiast’s life, how do you (and anyone else at GPC for that matter) choose what to write digitally vs analog? I’m about to graduate with a tech-ish degree and I’ve always struggled with finding the right balance between using digital tools like calendar or just writing out my week in my bullet journal, for example. I figured that since you’re an online retailer of analog things, you guys might have some insight on how to choose which tool for what task.

  • write what you love!
  • try lots of things, my method is completely trial and error
  • I personally like to write for pleasure, and for personal connection
  • 1-on-1 meetings, networking, I use notebooks
  • journaling
  • mind mapping, brain storming
  • thank you notes and letters

Ink

7) hotteaplanning- Instagram (34:05)

For Visconti Homo Sapiens, what are recommended inks? Any inks to avoid?

  • they discontinued the midi size which was piston, so I’ll mainly address the power filler
  • it’s kind of a pain to clean, so I like to use lower maintenance inks
  • I’d avoid shimmering inks, anything with a super high sheen
  • You can use most inks, especially conventional ones that you’re okay keeping in there a while

8) residentevil789- Instagram (36:36)

Have you ever tried to make your own ink for fountain pen and dip pen and did it turn out.

  • I’ve done the smallest amount of ink mixing before, but not in a long time
  • it turned out okay…but honestly there are so many other inks I just haven’t messed much with it!

Troubleshooting

9) adriaanerik- Instagram (37:29)

Is it a problem that I broke off a fin from my feed?

  • it’s not great! but probably not the end of the world
  • the fins are there to regulate the ink, and losing one or two probably won’t make a noticeable difference
  • if you lose a bunch, it might have a tougher time keeping up with ink flow when you write quickly
  • it’ll likely bother you more aesthetically than anything
  • you just have to be careful when swapping nibs, that’s when it’s most likely to happen

Business

10) ssliu4- Instagram (40:11)

Do you guys announce the discontinuation of pens? What about when you stop carrying brands. When products hit your “bottom shelf” when does it mean the brand stops carrying the product, and when does it mean the Goulet team choose to stop carrying the product? Thanks!

  • It depends, sometimes we do, sometimes not
  • Oftentimes, we stop carrying things that don’t sell well, and everyone has lost interest in so a big announcement will not be of much interest
  • Other products that are more in demand and sell out (especially limited items that have run out) are trickier, as we don’t want to overhype or make anyone upset, so we play it by ear, often hiding the page on our site and leaving it up for those with a direct link to see that it’s been sold out
  • our Bottom Shelf isn’t for discontinued items, but rather scratch n dent, always discounted
  • We have a closeouts page that’s for things we’ve stopped carrying, the two are in similar places on the site but mean different things
  • We don’t always discount closeouts, mainly just if we have a lot and are trying to clear them out

11) gopivajravelu- Instagram (46:33)

What type of office supplies do you provide for employees of the Goulet Pen Company? The company I work for provides the usual Tops legal pads, post it notes, and disposable ballpoint pens. Do you all have a stock room of Lamy blue ink cartridges and Rhodia dot pads? That would be a nice perk for working at a pen company!

  • We have a lot of the normal office supplies, but obviously plenty of pens, ink, and nice paper
  • we’ll provide notebooks, usually somewhat more specific to peoples’ needs
  • We have Rhodia pads around, and plenty of other brands, too
  • lots of our team like to use dedicated notebooks for their work and personal life together, so then it’s more of a personal choice and they choose what they want
  • we get samples and give away stuff pretty regularly, so there’s a lot of that our team uses
  • everyone gets a pretty decent discount here
  • free ink samples, we want our team to go nuts and try as many inks as they want!
  • no ballpoints, nope
  • we do have a lot of G2 rollerballs, though
  • our team definitely gets to use a lot of what we sell

12) rele.chinmayxoxo- Instagram (49:37)

I just started a new YouTube channel in the wake of Matt’s absence. I was wondering if you have any tips on growing a channel. Love your work.

  • Yes, it’s sad to hear Matt Armstrong has taken a permanent hiatus from The Pen Habit
  • tips on growing the channel, eh?
  • focus on making engaging content that fills a void
  • don’t copy others, do your own style, authenticity is critical
  • speak what you know, and if you don’t know it, learn it
  • don’t focus on how many subscribers or followers you have, that’s a vanity metric
  • focus on engagement, are people watching your content? Are they responding in comments? do they care?

QOTW: What writing/productivity methods do you find most beneficial with a pen and paper? (1:00:17)

Write On,
Brian Goulet