The Tools Artists Use

Michael Nobbs

Posted on February 20, 2009 | Comments

Welcome to the inaugural post on The Tools Artists Use!

To kick things off, I have asked the Aberystwyth, Wales artist Michael Nobbs to allow us a peek into his artistic toolbox.

What are your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet)?

Fish and Chips and Tea

I tend to get obsessed with a particular way or working for a while. At the moment I'm using a mixture of (very old) Wacom tablet and a Lamy Safari pen with a medium nib. My finished drawings are currently a combination of inkjet and ink.

Not so long ago I was constantly using a Rotring Art Pen and a Moleskine sketchbook.

If you have a wide collection, how do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

The advantage of obsession is that I don't have to make day-to-day decisions. I just pick up what I was using yesterday and carry on. Eventually I get excited about a different way of working and move on to something new. (I do have a LARGE collection of pens so it's a good thing I'm not indecisive about what I'm working with, otherwise I'd never draw anything).

If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

At the moment it's a Lamy Safari with Lamy cartridges. I do have a converter for it and do sometimes fill it with (waterproof) Rotring drawing ink. I want to get hold of some Noodler's Ink to try.

How do you like your color? Watercolour? Acrylics? Oil?

I've used all of the above in the past. These days I love adding colour digitally with Photoshop.

Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

Michael Nobbs - the-beany I do have a bit of a thing for Moleskines. At the moment though a lot of my work is on thick matte inkjet paper. I have a big pile in my studio. I buy in bulk.

I do always have a Moleskine in my bag, it's probably a bit like a comfort blanket. I tend not to be able to go out without one.

Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

Lots at the moment; both post and pre-processing.

Have you ever tried a new pen (or paper, etc) from reading about it, or seeing the results in another artist's work?

Yep, someone just needs to whisper the name of a pen and I want it. I found out about Rotring Art Pens from the wonderful Keri Smith and the Lamy Safari from the hugely talented Swedish artist Nina Johansson. I really want to get hold of some Sharpies to try after discovering New York artist Jason Polan.

I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it's looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

My MacBook (I'm a bit of an Apple geek) is definitely a central part of my practice. I'm very interested in recording and archiving my rather mundane life and the internet (especially blogging) is a great resource for that. I engage a lot with other artists online, Twitter is fantastic for that, and am always looking for inspiration. I mentioned Jason Polan before. I discovered his work when someone told me about him on Twitter and he has made me think a lot about my own drawing practice. It is so exciting when things like that happen, and the internet makes those kind of connections and discoveries so much more possible.

Michael Nobbs - fishfingers I feel very lucky to be living and working at the technological stage we are at now. I can design and publish a book for very little expense and then potentially get it see around the world. I can put a webpage together to promote a project, I can edit my own films. There are so many possibilities.

Michael Nobbs can be found online at his main website at, and on his weblog at Make sure and view his recent set of drawings up on Flickr called looking for the joy, and take a peek at his published illustrated journal called "The Beany". And if you're not following Michael on Twitter (@michaelnobbs), you're missing out on a fantastic source of art links and inspiration.

Thanks Michael!

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