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Dozens of bottles of inks. Fourteen calligraphy nibs. Paints ranging from artist-grade acrylic to metallic watercolours. Too many sketchbooks to count. Like most graphic designers, I have a life goal of amassing as many tools as possible.

Eventually, I realised hoarding stationery doesn’t make me any better at my craft. I wanted to make things using the tools I lovingly collected over the years.

Steer clear of the stationery store. You don’t have to enter it each time you walk past. Really. My number one weakness is brush pens. I tell myself that each one has its own characteristics (not untrue) and that I need to bring them home (untrue).

Do a full inventory of all your art tools. I put together everything I own all in one place to help myself see what I need. It turns out I don’t need anymore brush pens.

Once you’ve gone through what you already own, you can start a wishlist of what you’d like to purchase. If you still need a certain item after waiting for a week, feel free to make the trip to the stationery store. If it’s something you don’t need, buy it as a gift to yourself in the future.

Work what you got. Experiment with what you already have. Bring out the colourful markers you used in school or craft your very own pop can pen. I’m always used to sketching in pen, so switching to pencil once in a while helps break routine.

Simplify. I travel a lot, so I ended up paring down to the basics. I put my favourite tools in one small bag. This small bag can go a long way.

  • Uni Pin Fine Line 0.1 technical pen for journaling
  • Pilot Futayaku double-sided brush pen in black and grey
  • Pilot Kakuno fine fountain pen (a new year gift to myself)
  • Staedtler Luna Blue colour pencil, Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100 HB and 4B pencils for sketching
  • Eraser, pencil sharpener and ruler

For me, the pen is the only tool I need to create.

What’s yours?