Wet Paint

Artists' Materials & Framing in St. Paul, MN

I can’t read my own handwriting!


2017-04-07 10-56-18.424

Fifteen years ago I was in a corporate tech job and one day I didn’t have a pen. I hadn’t misplaced my pen. I simply had no pen at my desk and likely hadn’t written anything down for days. I didn’t need to. It was a tech job and everything went directly into the system. It was the early 2000s and, thanks to debit cards, I wasn’t even writing checks all that often.

Soon after that I got a promotion, certainly due to my amazing efficiency and technical prowess, and I needed to write again in two common and important situations. I had to write on whiteboards for presentations and I had to act like I was taking notes in stupid, boring meetings while someone else got to huff the marker aroma. I enjoyed the challenge of writing legibly with a dry-erase marker backwards over my shoulder while talking. However, rolling a fat, heavy, corporate logo-ed pen with a crappy OEM rollerball cartridge across a legal pad to stay awake while someone reads each word from their own PowerPoint slides happened far more often and it took a terrible toll on my penmanship.

Now I am back to a world where I write more than “trouble tickets” and email. My degraded handwriting needs to be addressed. Slowing down helps and I’ll be practicing more thoughtful lettering. But I work at the pen store and I know that picking the right device is half the battle. No more “award-quality” swag pens.

milanRight now my go-to is the Milan P-1 Gel Touch pen. I keep one at the ready on my keyboard and it is the one I use for signing checks. The “dry” roller has the right amount of drag and the line is bold but not too thick. It reduces lift-offs and accidental ligatures when I print and keeps my cursive from looking like I’m jotting down my EKG. In the grip department I like the rubberized coating and uniform hex body. Style-wise it strikes me like the Ford Taurus in RoboCop: High utility, clean lines, and durable.

As an autonomic pen-clicker I give the button action a 9. The P-1 provides satisfying resistance and return that won’t sprain your thumb with a quiet, but audible, “POP!”

Milan also makes a 4″ Mini version and we can barely keep those in stock. It’s the ultimate tactical pen.  It’s also less than a dollar. We are stocked up right now though, and during our “Make Your Mark” sale all pens (and pencils) are 15% off!


three pens

It’s really quite Swiss.

Over in the pen case we have three more click pens that range from a step up in quality to a fun fine writing instrument.

The Horizon Otho is stellar. The ultra fine rollerball is fantastically tight.

The Infinite BP is a heavier basic ballpoint pen with smooth, soft action that might not soothe the nervous clicker but would certainly help everyone around him.

The Caran d’Ache 849, which packs a smooth Tungsten Carbide ball point, is a modern design classic that is just heavy enough in the hand without being large or ponderous. At about 40 bucks it might find a permanent home as your purse or pocket jotter but with the look and the colors available you could get several and call them fashion accessories.

If you aren’t a clicker you might like the Pigma Micron PN. It’s the same permanent, lightfast, and waterproof ink as the precise point fiber tip pens in the same barrel and cap but the tip is a durable plastic nib (PN=Plastic Nib!). It’s designed for the jobs that would wreck a nice fiber tip, like signing checks at Zantigo to pay for a sack of delicious Chilitos but still wanting something decent for drawing after lunch. We have found that the one-size nib allows for some variation in the line. You’ll get fine with light pressure and bold with a little more.


I won’t sign my name in red.


The right writing materials make a difference whether they are your go-to disposable or your soul mate of a fountain pen.  Come in and check out the pen rack or step over to our fine writing counter to try them and find the pen that helps you communicate more clearly. 15% off helps and the Make Your Mark Sale runs through the end of the month.

Author: scottfares

Scott has returned to Wet Paint where he loves the people, the materials, and the view of Grand Avenue. He’s excited to be back in the shop talking to customers and sharing what he knows about the pencils and paints and brushes. In addition to being one of the new co-owners of the store Scott is also a neighbor who will walk to work-unless it is really, really cold.

2 thoughts on “I can’t read my own handwriting!

  1. You can practice your handwriting on this nifty site:
    Try it! It’s fun!

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