[Update 7/18/2020: Since this piece was published two days ago, both colors of the Classic Slim have sold out and their listings do not appear to be available on Etsy any longer. I do not know whether they will be restocked or at what time, but I just wanted to drop a note here so that future readers are not confused if they see no listing after the link. Other models from the same maker are still in stock, and appear to be very similar to the pen reviewed here, but of course thicker or “less slim.”]
What would make you buy a pen you’ve never held, from a brand you’ve never heard of, practically sight unseen save for a couple of pictures on the sales listing? I discovered my own answer to this question a few months ago, when I stumbled across the Artisan Fountain Pens storefront on Etsy, and was taken aback by how inexpensive the pens were, considering the fact that they are handmade acrylic fountain pens. It’s not every day you find a kit-less turned acrylic pen for under $30, and even the most expensive model was still a hundred dollars cheaper than comparable models from other makers. How could I not take a chance on one of these pens?
I went with the Artisan Classic Slim, based solely on the fact that it was available with a little pop of color in the form of a red ring at the top of the barrel. (All of the other pens were available only in plain black.) Artisan Fountain Pens is actually a product of another stationery reviewer, Josh, aka JPL, an Australian student who has been uploading his video reviews to YouTube for years, and covers everything from the Montblanc nib exchange experience, to exploring what the iridium on your fountain pen nib really is, to reviews of some of the cheapest pens coming out of China. Last year he launched the Artisan Fountain Pen company with a Kickstarter for an Ebonite pen, and he has continued it on Etsy with these acrylic models. He is no less attentive with these new models, despite the change in material. My pen arrived with a Q.C. sheet showing the nib was tested, and I have to say that the writing performance has been superb, but I’ll return to that in a moment.
Physically, the pen is long and slim. At the widest diameter of its cap, it is only 14.5 mm thick. The barrel is 12.4 mm at its the widest point, with the raised red ring slightly above that. The grip takes on a look that I’ve seen referred to as a “brutalist section” by virtue of being a straight cylinder with no curvature. At 9 mm thick, barely wider than the shoulders of the #6 nib perched atop it (8.2 mm) I think this was a good call, as any thinner and I believe it might create difficulty in using the pen. As it is, the pen is a little too slim for my hands, but other people who enjoy slim pens but wish there were more slim options with larger nibs may find this design quite enticing. For contrast, the capped length of the pen is 150 mm, the uncapped pen is 133 mm long, and the posted writing length (if you are so inclined) is roughly 171.7 mm, so you definitely aren’t sacrificing length to get that slim width.
Speaking of the #6 nib, I’ll admit that was one of my big fears in buying this pen. Knowing a pen has a certain recognizable nib brand is good for assuaging fears of writing performance, but for these no brand is listed. Instead, the listing says:
The nibs are made in Taiwan, and I have worked closely worked with the manufacturer to make sure that the nibs produce excellent writing.
To their credit, this is indeed an excellent nib. I would order a second pen with this same nib with zero hesitation. I enjoy the bicolor plating design, and the writing performance (for which I give credit to both the manufacturer and the Q.C. performed) is top notch. If the only thing holding you back from ordering this pen was the fact that the nib doesn’t have a recognizable brand stamped on it, I would say put those fears at ease.
Overall, I am very impressed with this pen. I should note that shipping time after placing my order did take a month or two, but that was coming all the way from Australia to Baltimore, and considering the effects of the ongoing pandemic on global shipping times, I think it was reasonable. In the end, this Slim model is a bit too narrow for my hands, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future productions from Artisan Fountain Pens, because at the current prices these are an unbelievable value. For those who prefer a slimmer grip and pen, being able to find that pen with a full sized #6 nib is a true rarity, and I’d recommend buying one of these pens without delay.
This pen was purchased on Etsy for the purpose of this review.