In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about making the leap to next level pens, how and why special editions happen, and his daily carries right now.

This week:


1) geekingituptwentyfourseven- Instagram (6:09)

When is it time to make the leap from a relatively cheap pen to a more so expensive one? 50 to like 150

  • When you feel ready!
  • I went for a long time without feeling like I was missing out on having a $150+ pen, and you definitely don’t have to spend this much to have a great writing experience
  • You can spend that much and still not love your pen, not every expensive pen will feel worth it to everyone
  • if you’re really on the fence, try to get one in your hands (local pen meetup, swap/trade online, pen show), do a lot of research
  • certain pens are pretty safe bets like the Lamy 2000, Pilot VP, Pilot Falcon, Platinum 3776, Pilot Custom 74, others become a little more of a gamble


2) Marlene E- Facebook (11:07)

I’m confused about Calli ink. It’s India ink and some sites say it can be put in a fountain pen. I know you can’t put India ink in fountain pens but my new Lamy Joy is a calligraphy pen. Can I use it in there ?

  • nope, they’re just wrong
  • it’s confusing because sometimes certain pens (especially with stub/italic nibs) are marketed as “calligraphy”, when really they aren’t at all, in the sense that the ink used is fountain pen ink
  • I don’t sell the Calli brand so I could be missing something, but the Calli ink I was able to find through Daler-Rowney’s website is all acrylic pigmented calligraphy ink, which is too think for fountain pens and will clog them
  • their MSDS sheet classifies their ink as acrylic paint, it’s fundamentally different than fountain pen ink
  • it’s like gasoline and diesel fuel, both power engines, both are pumped through the gas pumps, but they are fundamentally different chemicals and can’t work interchangeably
  • same goes for fountain pen and calligraphy ink
  • calligraphy ink, india ink, china ink, lawyers ink, these are all acrylic or shellac-based inks that won’t work in fountain pens
  • fountain pen ink is all water based, and is less viscous than calligraphy ink
  • DON’T use Calli in a fountain pen unless you’re playing a cruel joke on a friend


3) rduatty- Instagram (15:55)

Sometimes my nib will write smooth and then scratchy all in the same sentence. Why?

  • usually that’s misaligned tines, especially if it’s scratchy consistently in the same direction
  • using a loupe, you can inspect and usually see if the tines are misaligned and actually bend them back
  • there could be some other kind of damage going on, if it was dropped, ruined by someone who borrowed it, etc, and a loupe can help inspect
  • it could be something you’re doing while you’re writing, like changing your writing angle or pen rotation
  • sometimes this is harder to figure out because you aren’t necessarily aware of the writing habits you naturally do (since it’s natural, you’re not thinking about it)
  • a really well-used nib could have a flat spot worn on it, and you could be catching the edge of that flat spot (we’re talking years and years of writing though)
    • solution here would be to regrind/smooth it back out
    • nibmeisters could definitely do it
    • you could, it’s not hard, but without knowing what you’re looking for you could make it worse, pretty easily, use your judgment
  • it could be there’s a little catch on the inside slit of the tines, can sometimes happen with nibs if that step was missed at all at the manufacturer, can fix that yourself but you can baby’s bottom it if you’re not careful!
  • any nib smoothing or adjustment, do at your own risk!


4) @LucyHoneychurch- Twitter (25:02)

How is the process with special editions, is it hard for you to get them? Do you know how the companies decide to make special editions? And why this very annoying thing with special editions that are only sold in specific countries… I can’t buy the red Kaweco in Germany :(

  • ah yes, this is kind of a mysterious process and one that I’m still discovering more all the time
  • there really isn’t a “special edition” guideline or governing body, so it’s all very much shaped by the marketplace, manufacturers, distributors, and to a lesser degree, retailers
  • mostly, it’s fueled by manufacturers who see an opportunity to make something more special and interesting than their standard, regularly offered product line
  • There are a couple of ways this can take shape
    • limited edition, where there’s a theme that drives the idea (artistic element, licensed goods, very narrow niche)
    • limited by only a certain amount of material available and that’s all that can be produced of the pen
    • special edition, which could be globally distributed but limited in nature by amount of time it’s produced based on the manufacture’s capacity, preference, or interest in it, or limited by a certain quantity they’re capable of committing to (this is often not disclosed)
    • manufacturers may do this to help fill down time in production, to experiment with wilder materials or designs, or to help keep the brand interesting or relevant when there’s a lull in new product development
    • specific regions or retailers may approach and commit to a quantity of a special edition in exchange for exclusivity
  • Often for a given local market, which for the fountain pen world, is very geographically driven (given that MOST of the world is still primarily B&M centric)
  • global companies will have distribution channels established in key geographic regions, because the laws, currencies, logistics of distribution, customer preferences, and more are different in different parts of the world
  • in order for a certain special run of a given product to be made by the manufacturer, a distributor may place an order of a certain guaranteed size in order to get the commitment from the manufacturer to make it, and in turn, is promised exclusivity of distribution so that the likelihood of recouping their investment is higher
  • the willingness or capability of a manufacturer to do this will vary wildly based on their size, capacity, and interest based on their own strategic objectives
  • Many companies will mix and match these processes based on their own decisions, like Pilot and Sailor doing a lot of unique stuff in Japan that’s not available elsewhere, Lamy doing regional variations of their pens, or Visconti or Stipula having US exclusives
  • Kaweco, as you’ve mentioned, may have committed to do a certain region for a pen, either for a time or altogether, so it’s not available elsewhere
  • This can appear really frustrating to the online pen community, because we want what we want when we want it, and it’s not always so obvious why something’s only available from certain regions
  • I can say having been involved in many conversations around exclusive products it’s always a gamble, and there’s more uncertainty, risk, and excitement in this process than in regularly offered products
  • certain regions may offer more exclusives simply because the risk tolerance is higher, because it is a pretty nerve-racking process to commit to large quantities of special or exclusive products
  • I 100% empathize with the annoyance of it all, but to talk about the flip side of it, without the exclusivity element of it, you wouldn’t see nearly as much exciting stuff happening from brands so it’s a necessary part of the process
  • the best thing you can do is either just buy it from where you can and pay for it, or beg and plead your favorite retailers and manufacturers to offer it locally, as they/we definitely do listen!!


5) @_TripleOne_- Twitter (40:59)

What’s your current EDC? What nibs do you have on them? And what are they currently inked with? :) Much love from Indonesia & Australia

6) dylanadkins529- Instagram (54:55)

Hey Brian! Just wondering what your favorite part about your job is?

  • there are so many things I love about my job, it’s honestly hard to just say one “favorite” thing
  • there are a lot of very tactical, tangible things I love like the pens themselves, getting to do content creation, new product selection, leadership, managing my team, etc
  • going much more ethereal, I’d have to say the favorite thing about my job is the sense of purpose and calling that I have to be doing the work I’m doing, that’s something that I think most people (especially we millennials) strive for
  • I screw up a lot and I have to work on myself constantly, but that itself is the process of doing the work I do, and I feel I’m uniquely suited to that
  • the pen community itself is incredible, and very passion-oriented which I totally connect with
  • especially having gone to two pen shows and seeing people in person, that very much validates that these are my people, I am made for this work, and I am motivated to do it as much as possible because I just love it

7) Alan S- Facebook (57:49)

Why don’t you ever pick my questions?

  • Sometimes I do, Alan. Sometimes I do.
  • no seriously, every week we’re getting in more than 10 times the questions I could answer, so it’s just the odds, I can’t answer everything so just keep at it, I’ll do my best! It’s not personal if I don’t answer!

QOTW: What pen caused you to “Make the leap”, or is enticing you to do so if you haven’t yet? (58:39)

Writing Prompt: Write about your dream job. (59:03)

Write On,
Brian Goulet