We asked Candace to explore the beauty of PILOT's new iroshizuku inks and are blown away by what she has created.
1. How did you get into fountain pens and ink?
Fountain pens and ink were introduced to me when I was quite young – I was still in primary school. Basically, the initial school years were for block letters in pencil, then regardless of whether you wanted to or not, you had to learn how to write in cursive style, and part of that requirement was mastering it using fountain pen and ink. It was a rite of passage, and I spent a few years with my fountain pen before ‘graduating’ to ballpoint pens, which conveniently coincided with starting secondary school. I still remember unboxing my first fountain pen, which was a budget-priced model, and my dad demonstrating how to use it. The ink was most likely blue-black, which is why I don’t tend to use blue-black much these days – I associate it with school days!
2. What motivated you to start creating and sharing your pieces as @pensivecandy?
In mid-2017, I decided I wanted to post photos of my pens, and I quickly discovered that photographing the pens were only half of the joy. I wanted to show off what the pens could do, how much fun they were to use, how beautiful the nibs looked, what the inks looked like on paper, in various lighting conditions, when diluted with water, and again, how much fun one could have with a fountain pen, brush and ink. With my rudimentary art education from student days plus a clear sense of what I considered aesthetically pleasing, I inked up my pens and got into it.
3. What are a few influences or passions that have inspired how you create and communicate?
I love the work of Australian artist Jeffrey Smart for his use of colour, the sense of scale and the whisper of whimsy within each artwork. I think another reason I like Smart’s work is because he embraced open spaces, it’s something I struggle to do – I always tend towards wanting to fill the space.
Speaking of filling spaces, another Aussie artist I admire is Del Kathryn Barton – her style is so distinctive, the faces of her subjects are hauntingly intriguing, and I simply get lost in all the details. These artists’ works are so different from each other, but I think the common feeling that appeals to me in both is that there’s a feeling of mystery, an undertone of something unknowable, or at least open to interpretation, about the situation (Smart) or the person (Barton).
I also find inspiration in simple things in daily life, for instance, waking up to a pastel pink sunrise recently found me reaching for a pink ink so I could extend that feel-good ‘In the Pink’ vibe!
4. Why do you think the fountain pen and ink community has grown as much as it has over the past 5 years – especially in Australia?
Social media platforms such as Instagram have allowed creators and enthusiasts alike to share in, show off and spread their passion for fountain pens, and more importantly, demonstrate the ease with which they can be used by just about anyone! The fountain pens don’t have to be expensive or fancy, your go-to could be a PILOT Prera, or in my case, the Custom 823 has become an extension of me. I use it all the time and find so much joy in that.
But back to the community… I found that my enjoyment of fountain pens and ink has been enhanced by the fact that there are like-minded folk out there with whom I can happily spend hours chatting about our favourite pens and inks. The shared pleasure multiplied by community equals happiness.
5. Which iroshizuku inks do you love working with at the moment and why?
I have an enduring love for shin-kai ‘Deep Sea’, syo-ro ‘Dew on Pine Trees’, ina-ho ‘Rice Ear’ and tsuyu-kusa ‘Asiatic Dayflower') – the last two I believe have been discontinued.
However, with this latest round of new releases, being a devotee of green, I’ve been loving suigyoku ‘Emerald Green’. That said, I’ve spent almost as much time with hotaru-bi ‘Firefly Glow’, because it’s so vivid and dazzling and I can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s also been impossible to ignore hana-ikada ‘Cherry Blossom Petals’ – for the pretty name as much as the beautiful shade of pink.
Candace Milner is a passionate creative and photographer, who engages with colour, mood and detail to bring to life beautiful works of art. She shares her work online @pensivecandy, including behind-the-scenes videos of hypnotic mandalas and stippling portraits, slowly revealing themselves, stroke by stroke, created with fountain pens, inks and brushes.