Policy - ink between the teeth



As of September 2018, I started working for JetPens. As an employee, I am allowed discounts on items that we have in stock past a certain release date. However, these items are still purchased with my own funds.

I am incredibly honored to say that, as of fall 2017, I am sponsored in part by the writing community of Massdrop! If you don't know what it is, it's basically a group buy website with dedicated categories and a bustling community of other folks who like specific categories of products. The writing community has "drops" (products or bundles that you can commit to purchasing) that vary from budget fountain pens to leather-bound notebooks.

As part of my sponsorship, I can request samples of products, or I am sent them free of charge, and write reviews. These will be posted in the writing community, and linked to on this site. You can get involved in the community by going to Massdrop and signing up, or by visiting my referral link.

If you are a distributor looking for someone to review a product, or would also like to be a sponsor of Ink Sharks, you can send me an e-mail at gpharaonis (at) gmail.com or by using the contact form. I would prefer not receiving full-size products, and ask that all items are provided on one of two terms if possible: as a loaner item, or as a sample.

I will not take compensation for a review, whether to give a positive one or to expedite the process. However, I will work to ensure that a product is reviewed in a timely manner (within two weeks of my receiving it). I think that's only fair!

I want to be as open as I possibly can about how I get the products that are featured on the site. Most of the time, I purchase it with my own money. I will disclose immediately and clearly if the item was provided to me at no charge. I want to be clear: I don't think it's possible for a person to be completely unbiased if they receive an item for free; however, I want to try to give you a review that is as aligned with my personal opinion as possible.

Review Standards

I currently have a blog-specific standard for my reviews. My hope is that, because the way that I do my reviews is very limited, and that certain aspects of it are not particularly controllable, you as a prospective consumer will take this information and add it to a variety of other reviews from other people. Please do not take my reviews to be the end-all-be-all!

Ink: I use Pilot Penmanship fitted with a stock feed and medium nib. I also fill one of my "regular carry" pens with the ink and use it for at least a week.

I split reviews across two fountain pen friendly papers: Kokuyo Campus High Grade, and Tomoe River. Kokuyo Campus High Grade is Kokuyo's high-end paper. It's a soft white color and on par with Rhodia. Tomoe River paper is a soft white color and very smooth.

I scan the review using a Canon CanoScan. Colors are relatively true to life, but I do slight color correcting if necessary. I cannot guarantee that the ink that you see on the screen matches the ink that you try. My reviews can only be approximations. I will do my best to describe differences between actual use and my monitor.

This is the information that I include in every review:
  • Swab: I swab a sample of the ink using a q-tip.
  • Dry time: I draw a plus sign, count, then rub a dry finger across the mark.
  • Waterproofness: I use the medium nib to write out sample text, then drip water onto the text. This water is then immediately soaked off with a paper towel. I will rate from waterproof, somewhat waterproof, or not waterproof. Waterproof ink will still have a majority of pigment on the page. Somewhat waterproof can lose a large amount of pigment, but still be readable. Not waterproof has little to no pigment left.
  • Shading and sheen: I will write five lines of text using a medium nib, then a filled fountain pen. This is, to me, the best way to show off any shading and sheen that may be present in the ink. I will also write out text on Tomoe River paper.
  • Comparison: I swab ink on Strathmore 400 drawing paper, then compare the reviewed ink to others in my collection.
Fountain pens: I will test fountain pens on Kokuyo Campus High Grade paper using an ink that is both "safe" and that I have experience with, usually Pilot Iroshizuku.

I try to use fountain pens for at least two weeks before I write a review. This way I can have a firmer handle on what the pen feels like in hand for long and short writing sessions.

Paper: I will test all pens I have inked and available on paper. I own and use about twelve fountain pens, which vary in nib sizes (but skew to the broader side). I also have a variety of inks, all of which have their own properties with regards to dry time, wetness, sheen, etc. I hope that by running paper through a veritable obstacle course of inks and nib sizes, you can get the best idea of how that paper works for you.