My latest, and most important creative tool.


My architect friends swear by sketching ink. Lines from a good ink pen are simple, dense, permanent, and expressive. I get it. I did it for years in design school, but it never felt quite right to me. I’m a graphite guy. Something about graphite just feels right to me. Maybe because that’s how I learned to draw — doodling in math class instead of paying attention, which is probably why I’m a designer and not a programmer. Well, I’ve finally found the graphite pencil I’ve been looking for.

The ITO-YA Graphite Pencil (round) from Japan. The design is as simple as it gets (yes, the standard #2 has been simplified). ITO-YAs are made of quality cedar and have velvety graphite. The eraser design is beautiful, extending from the end as if it were part of the wood.

We checked with our good friends at Peter Miller Books here in Seattle and they could get them for $2 a piece. Yes, that seems like an absurd price for pencils, but I spent $2,000 on my workstation, and I might argue my $2 pencil is a more powerful creative tool.

If you want to try to get them yourself from Japan, you can try

Posted by on May 11, 2013 with one comment so far

1 Comment

  1. I have used these pencils and agree that they superior to the standard #2 (which I will always love). The eraser took something so simple, and simplified it further. It may be the perfect pencil.

    Yes, I realize how nerdy that sounds, and am okay with it.

    Comment by Dave on November 17, 2013 at 9:20 am

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