Tools of the Trade: Sharpie

Tools of the Trade: Sharpie

We're sliding rapidly toward back to school season, and Sharpie has just released a new fleet of ads aimed at teenagers. (Note: Jezebel disapproves.) Although many people have a childhood attachment to the scented Mr. Sketch markers, most artists and pen enthusiasts agree: Sharpie is the shizznit!
The single best thing you can do to inspire creativity in a child or teenager is probably to give them a huge pack of Sharpie markers. Then do yourself a favor, and look the other way. Chances are, they won't be drawing on "the right surface." But isn't that kind of the point of creativity? Testing the boundaries of what's possible? Pushing the limits of what's acceptable?
(This is also a great time to talk to kids about the delineation between public and private property, public and private art, as well as emphasizing the difference between right and wrong. Pretty heavy conversation to be sparked by a humble little marker, isn't it?)
When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to have relatively sane parents. They let me write whatever I wanted on anything that I owned. I had a pretty great denim jacket, I can assure you. (This was the 1980s, and a pretty great denim jacket was your key to society's approval.) Kids who are allowed to exercise creativity and control on their own belongings are probably less likely to scribble on the bathroom wall, right?
Remember: when Sharpies are outlawed, only outlaws will have Sharpies!
Sharpie art is a great combination of permanence and impromptu. You have a pen in hand, a piece of paper wanders past, you draw on it. New Sharpies come in a crazy variety of different colors, too. Imagine all the doodling you could have done on your Pee-Chee folder, if Sharpies had been so colorful when we were kids!
The Sharpie is casual and friendly. It's not as formal as a mechanical pencil or a set of Staedtler drawing pens. It begs to be used informally, by anyone who happens to pick it up. Is there any loftier goal for a craft or art tool? Beginners and experts alike love and use the Sharpie.
Respect the Sharpie!
The only down side to the classic Sharpie marker is that it is incredibly NOT light-fast. I have had Sharpie works fade to pale yellow in less than a year, when kept out in the open. If you want to keep your Sharpie artwork, you had best scan or photocopy it soon.