Lost to the depths of backpacks, drawers, desks, pockets and car seats, the best writing tools for everyday use are affordable enough that you won’t sweat losing them. Instead of spouting off about those we think are the best, let a class of professionals far more dedicated to conserving the craft of handwritten (or hand-drawn) work. Here are the favorite pens of six designers (some couldn’t pick just one).
Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine & Pentel Sign Pen
“My Favorite pen is the Pilot Precise V5 Extra fine, it’s great for taking notes, and quick sketches. It also doesn’t bleed through the pages of my favorite note book. For bolder strokes I like the Pentel Sign Pen, it’s smooth and has great line weight. The fine felt tip is perfect for sketching.” —Mesve Vardar, Design Director, Humanscale
Valgblyant Jumbo Election Pencil
“The Valgblyant Jumbo Election Pencil is my favorite, by far. The Viking Valgblyant is a traditional wood-lead pencil originally designed for voting booths, and made in Denmark by one of the more legendary European pencil makers. I love this pencil first and foremost because it is oversized, hence easy to hold and hard to lose. The lead is buttery but still manages to hold an edge. And there’s even a small lanyard hole. This is a classic yellow pencil that exudes confidence and commands attention.” —Peter Buchanan-Smith, Chief Creative Officer, Best Made Co.
Pilot Precise V7 Rolling Ball Pen
“The pen I’ve carried with me for the past 14 years is the black Pilot Precise V7 rolling ball pen. It’s the pen Karim Rashid used at his studio during my time there and what we had on hand. The stroke weight is precise and never bleeds, they don’t dry out when left uncapped and they’re super functional.” —Chris Granneberg, Industrial Designer, Pepsi, Dune, Gantri and more
Muji Hexagonal Ballpoint 0.38 mm
“Hands down, my go-to pen is the Hex Poly Gel-Ink Ball Point Pen 0.38 MM from Muji. I tend to write really small, so I love the detail I can get with the 0.38 pen tip size. I am also really into hierarchy of note taking and love using the felt-tipped pens from Schoolhouse. The Ochre and Red pens really help me notate and the color of the Ochre is stunning.” —Jorie Garcia, Creative Manager, Schoolhouse
Sharpie Retractable Ultra-Fine Point
“It doesn’t bleed or smudge on my sketchbook when I’m working on new product designs, and I love the smooth, gel-like stroke. And because it’s retractable, I never have to worry about losing the cap and ink getting on my stuff. Plus, it doesn’t dry out and the click is super satisfying.” —Drew Cosgarea, Product Development Engineer, Fellow
Muji Gel-Ink Ballpoint 0.38 mm & Pilot G2
“Kinda cliche — but I’m Japanese so I love the Muji gel pens. We have them in a variety of colors and tips. The translucent plastic with color peeking through is so nice.
For regular writing, I like to use the Pilot G2. These are super cheap pens that write really nicely. A lot of niche pens use the same insert, actually.” —Ken Tomita, Cofounder, Grovemade