Five or so years ago when we started carrying ink, we quickly determined it would be a good idea to have an ink swab card handy to allow people to better see what color ink it was they were purchasing. We’ve gone through three iterations since then, and today we wanted to proudly reveal our best version yet!
In the beginning our cards simply stated the name of the ink and had a wide swab of color done with a q-tip dipped in ink, with three lines drawn with a vintage dip pen so you could see how it looks when written with a pen. We did the best we could at the time, given that we were both still working other jobs full-time, and it worked well enough to get us started. Some were better than others.
We then decided to put our name on the card, sort of a way to watermark the image.
A couple of years ago we were able to purchase Andersonpens.com, so we started changing over the cards again, to replace the .Net version, as well as using better paper. We tried to replace the cards, but with so many different inks, it was a massive effort. With the store, inventory management, plus constantly adding new product to the site, we were never caught up, and the ink cards re-do was never quite finished.
Today we launch our newest version, which many of you have already seen at recent pen shows. The new card has a new vertical layout with a wider, more consistent q-tip swatch and we used a dip pen with an Anderson Pens #6 Medium nib attached for the mock writing sample. Even better paper is used now, as well as simplifying the font to make the name of the ink easier to read.
In the past, getting the image to appear with correct color on the screen has always been a challenge, but now we have made sure the ink swabs are color corrected as close as possible to the real thing. Of course, every monitor may display colors differently, but these have all been done at the same time, under the same exacting stringent conditions to make the colors appear as true as possible. This does mean the background white paper can vary slightly, but the ink color is what matters here. On inks with sheen, you can even see that as well!
We explored several options for each aspect of the new swab cards, and we were very intentional with our choices, to make these new swabs as customer friendly and helpful as possible.
The new paper – we bought many different paper samples, and tried different inks, different pens, multiple combinations of options, trying to find one that didn’t change the color, didn’t feather, didn’t bleed through. We did blind tests, with each paper simply numbered so that we would not be influenced by the brand, weight, or price. We will confess that we were thrilled to discover that the paper we all chose, is locally sourced. It’s nice to live in Paper Country and be able to Shop Local for something so important to us.
The format – this was a MASSIVE undertaking – over 700 colors, 5 times per color for our assorted pen show sample books, the color book that we leave home, a backup swab card, plus one for the photographer. We wanted to make sure that if we were going to make this change, it needed to be worth it. The new format is a vertical layout, with a more simple, easier to read font, and a larger edge-to-edge swab of ink. Just redoing the ink swabs took hundreds of hours over several months, and Lisa did all of them for the sake of consistency. We could have divided up the swabs among our staff to make it go faster, but the consistency was very important to us. We feel that the end result was worth the effort – more consistent, easier to really get a feel for the color, and equally as important, it will make it easier for you, our customers, to really come as close as possible to view the accurate color, and any possible sheen or shading.
The writing sample at the bottom of the card, was done with one of our own Anderson Pens medium point nibs made by Jowo. Since many companies use these nibs, such as Franklin-Christoph, TWSBI and Edison to name a few, we felt that most customers could relate to the nib. We originally started with a broad nib for maximum impact, but it seemed too bold, with too little detail, so we switched to the medium as our final choice.
Instead of scanning these cards, we also made the decision to have the new ink swabs professionally photographed. Our photographer of choice was one who has experience with shooting beauty products, which require the color match to be 100% accurate. It was important to us that what you see on your computer screen is as close to real life as possible.
We realize that we are missing a few new cards on the site, and as soon as the inks are in stock again from our distributors, we will replace the old cards with new ones. We are also giving away our old swab cards, by including them in your customer orders. We have been doing this for a while now, and we have had so many positive remarks from you all. According to some customers, these make good bookmarks, they work to tempt you with a new color, and they have been mailed to friends or family members as a “wishlist” type item. We have tried to pull out any older discontinued inks, but if one has slipped through the cracks, we do apologize.
We hope the new color swabs make it even easier for you to find that perfect ink you’ve been looking for! We worked very hard on these, and we are very proud of how they have turned out!!
Ink it up!
Brian & Lisa