An Ode to the Sharpie


I will admit that I am a compulsive Sharpie buyer. I see one on a store shelf and before I know what I’m doing it’s in my hand. Perhaps I might even sniff the ink a little. Even if I already own that color or type of Sharpie I always find a way to tell myself that I need another one. My last such purchase included five Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers that I just had to have (Yes, I really needed all five). An opportunity to procure another Sharpie never goes unmet. It doesn’t matter what color or what type, because I love all Sharpies!

I’m not alone on this one. Every photographer I know has one Sharpie on them at all times. Just ask for a pen and they’ll pull out an Extra Fine Point Permanent Marker.  There’s sure to be at least one Fine Point Permanent Marker within reach too for tasks like selecting negatives from a proof sheet or sketching out a shoot. And when one marker or pen sadly passes away, the next is selected from the Sharpie stockpile we all seem to have stashed somewhere… all those Sharpies we picked up “just in case”.

More than an indispensible tool for photographers, however, the Sharpie is a friend to artists of all stripes. These multi-purpose wonders not only leave their mark on your work from start to finish, they leave their mark on the art world as a whole; and have been doing so since 1964, when the Sanford Ink Company started making Sharpies.

The Chicago Company began with the Fine Point Permanent black marker, which was the first pen style permanent marker in existence. It became an invaluable tool to artisans, tradesmen, hobbyists, and the average Joe because not only did it write with smooth precision, but it could write on glass, wood, stone, and plastic, in addition to paper. An instant American icon was born.

As the years have progressed Sharpies have become more than a way to mark your work, they’ve become a medium themselves, inspiring all sorts of self-expression from artists to teenagers to anyone who wants to make their ideas and thoughts known. Sharpies are also a cornerstone in the world of memorabilia. When was the last time you saw a player sign a baseball with anything but a Sharpie?  Oh, Sharpie what would we do without you?! Thankfully, we don’t have to even imagine such a bleak world.

Tell your Sharpie stories below. Or simply share why you love Sharpies! I know you do.

1 Comment

I use Sharpies to write the roll number on the film canister.