Perhaps the second most popular lettering question I see after “what pen is that?” is, “where did you buy that pen?”. When you first start lettering, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which supplies to buy, and from where. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite lettering tool suppliers, and what I like to buy from them!
Jet Pens is a fantastic resource for… wait for it… pens! I’ve tried a ton of new pens thanks to their awesome inventory. If you’re looking for a pen from a Japanese brand, this store should be your go-to. I particularly love that they test and show you a writing sample for every. single. pen. While it doesn’t fully illustrate what the pen can do, it will give you an idea of the pen’s weight (“fine” lines vary between different pen brands), and for brush pens, the contrast you can achieve.
They also have put together a ton of great sample packs for brush pens and drawing pens, which are a great way to try out some new tools and see what you like best.
Favorite Purchase: Kuretake Zig CocoIro Pen Body & Ink
Paper & Ink Arts is my go-to for any and all calligraphy supplies. Whether you want to try out some new nibs, get your hands on an oblique holder, or need a fresh supply of ink, they’re affordable, reliable, and incredibly friendly. Their nib sampler set is an awesome way to try out new nibs to see what you really like best. I bought it after I developed some baseline calligraphy skills, and it definitely helped me find my favorites! It’s a small business and the customer service is always spot on. If you’re in Nashville, I’m extremely jealous and you should go in person immediately. I squeal whenever their annual catalog arrives.
Favorite Purchase: Celtic Pen Holder (pictured above, but no longer available)
This is another great calligraphy supplier with an insanely large inventory of items. They’re located in Greensboro, NC (in case you’re local!). They’ve put together a few beginner’s material sets for calligraphy that are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a one stop shop.
Favorite Purchase: Winsor & Newton Gold Ink
This is where I buy all of the fine art paper for my prints. They usually beat Amazon on price (it’s tough to find a lot of fine art paper that’s Prime-eligible or has reasonable shipping rates and times), and I’ve gotten free expedited shipping on every order I’ve placed. Their customer service is fantastic, their packaging protects the paper well, and all my shipments have arrived quicker than expected.
Favorite Purchase: Hahnemuhle Bamboo Fine Art Paper
While Amazon’s Prime-eligible supply can sometimes be disappointing, their selection of pens, papers, and art supplies has grown drastically in the last few years. They’re slowly becoming my go-to supplier for replenishing my staple hand lettering tools. They carry a lot of great sketching and painting paper, as well as staple items like lead, lead holders, sketching pencils, Micron pens, erasers, and rulers. Plus, the obvious bonus here is that you can lump these orders in with anything else you might need!
Favorite Purchase: Speedball Block Printing Kit
Local Craft & Art Supply Stores (Dick Blick, Utrecht, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Joann, Jerry’s Artarama… you name it!)
While craft and art stores may not always be the most economical way to purchase art supplies, in a pinch it’s hard to beat the ease and speed of popping into your local art store. Most of them carry a great supply of standard tools. Art stores in particular are likely to have a wide collection of Japanese brush pens and drawing pens, and they have watercolor supplies comin’ out the wazoo. They’re not always my first choice because they tend to sell everything at MSRP (as opposed to the discounts you can often find online), but if you keep an eye out for sales and coupons, they’ll often have the best price!
Favorite Purchase: Portable Watercolor Palette
Office Supply Stores (Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, etc.)
This is probably not the first place that came into your mind when you thought about art supplies, but you’d be surprised! I’ve found Tombow brush pens and fantastic felt tip ink pens in these places, not to mention basic stand-bys like printer paper, No. 2 pencils, sharpeners, erasers, and plenty of other supplies that may not be the stars of the show but are definitely important.
Favorite Purchase: Many, many reams of printer paper
Whether your preference is to shop local, online, from large retailers, or from small retailers, there’s definitely a store a click or a short drive away that will have the supplies you need to start lettering. What’s your go-to store for art supplies?