The Tools Artists Use

Scott Teplin

Posted on March 04, 2009 | Comments

This interview features Scott Teplin, an artist based in New York City.

What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

GRAPHITE: I love weird .3mm heavy Pentel mechanical pencils. It's pretty hard to find a decent variety - but there's a great Japanese book store a few blocks from my studio in Midtown that has a bunch. I usually use Pentel HB polly leads. HB leads in those German Faber Castell wooden pencils too.

Scott Teplin - Alphaville Letter G INK: I use the Gillott 290 nib stuck in a crappy plastic holder. It's a little frustrating getting one started, because half of them just don't work. But the flexibility in the tip makes for such a beautiful line that I've never been able to duplicate it with anything else. When I buy them I pour out about 150 on a table and check each one to see if the tip is perfectly split down the center. If it's a little off, because they are so sharp - the ink won't ever flow properly.

The best black for the buck as far as ink goes is easily with Dr. Martin's Black Star India ink. They make Hi Carb and Matte versions - but I can't tell the difference between the two.

When drawing in my sketchbook - I used to only use Pigma Microns (005s), but I was introduced by a friend to Pilot HI-TEC pens. They come in tons of colors and sizes, have a smooth roller ball that doesn't smear (much), and never gunks up at the tip. I have only seen these at the Japanese bookstore as well - but I think they're sold elsewhere.

BRUSHES: I pretty much only use Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky sable brushes for watercolor.

ERASERS: Gum erasers if I'm planning on water coloring afterward on the same paper. It's a pretty gentle rubber - and doesn't ruin the surface on the paper which could effect the watercolor. If I'm not too pick - those plastic ones - like Mars Plastic are fine too. I use those in the click tubes as well. This Sanford Tuff Stuff eraser is pretty useful, too.

EDGES: I use a crappy $5 roller ruler, a couple heavy (French?) rubber backed aluminum rulers with an inserted steel cutting edge (good for inking and cutting paper & book board). I bought them at New York Central a long time ago and never saw them again. I love ''em. I occasionally use a couple acrylic rulers with a metal edge - but they get dirty/dinged too fast. Finally - I absolutely am in love with my 18" Incra marking rule. It's a bit of a pain to get used to - but the zero is in the center, which makes lettering in weird spots and architectural drawings way easier (than using my dreaded MATH non-skills).

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

Depends on what the project calls for - each one is different.

Scott Teplin - Airplane (crash)

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

see above

How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers?

I'm a little crazy about my work being archival. I almost always use watercolor on paper for color - so I only use professional colors with real pigments as opposed to hues. Almost always Winsor & Newton from the tube. Any art on paper is already going have fugitive qualities - so I figure it's the least I can do.

There's this great little art supply store in Paris where I found a German made blue ink - and never saw it anywhere else. So when I know someone is going there - I send them this page I made along with some cash for them to buy me a bottle.

If you do use paints, inks, pencils, or markers for coloring, are there any in particular that are your favorites? Do you prefer travel sets of paints to a full set?

I learned to watercolor when I studied in Europe my junior year in college - and I still use my cheap plastic palette I bought in Florence 15 years ago. I also bought a travel Windsor Newton field box that same year, which I use when I paint at home or on the road.

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

I'm extremely anal with paper. I make my own sketchbooks out of Fabriano Artistico bright white hot press 90# paper (100% cotton, sewn with linen threads, bound with linen tape, PVA glue and vegetable tanned Nigerian goatskin). I try using Moleskine books because I'm always getting them as gifts - but the binding is total shit - and they fall apart too easily. Not to mention the paper is shitty. But still - I usually have one in my backpack just in case.

When doing non-sketchbook work - I almost always use the same paper buy in a 140# weight. I but sheets of 22" x 30" as well as 5 foot x 10 yard rolls.

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

No. Most of my stuff is made to be shown as is, live.

Scott Teplin - Supplies

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

Yeah - my friend, the amazing artist Renee French, is the one who gave me a HI-TEC pen a while back. I now have a million of them.

If you work both digitally and non-digitally, which do you find yourself doing more? Is there a reason you would prefer one of the other? Is it because of the tools available in either space?

Digital is only a means to show the hand drawn art online, for me.

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)?

I usually don't like digital stuff. It's too sterile. Sometimes it works perfectly though - like when coloring hand drawn comics. Specifically in the works of Brunetti, Ware and Clowes.

Thanks Scott!

Scott Teplin can be found online at his main website, and on his weblog at His art can also be found in the Adam Baumgold Gallery in New York City, and the g-module gallery in Paris, France.

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