Ana Reinert is an artist, designer, podcaster, and most famously, "Chair" of the Well-Appointed Desk. She speaks with us about what brings color to her everyday creative side. There’s precision in every detail, as she walks through her daily tasks as a designer, shares the inspiration for some recent art projects, and lists the gear that she finds particularly useful—or should we say, remarkable.
SSC: So, what's your story? Tell us a little about what you do, your day job, and your creative projects that make you who you are.
REINERT: My story is still in process. It feels like every day it gets rewritten a bit. At this moment, I am working as a designer at Hallmark Cards making greeting cards, but I have worn many hats in my time at Hallmark. I've designed gifts, worked as an art director and even helped developed iPhone apps. What I'll do tomorrow here is just as big a question. Outside of my "day job" which often stretches far beyond daylight hours, I write about pens, paper and office supplies at The Well-Appointed Desk. I am also a contributor to the podcast Art Supply Posse and occasionally make appearances on The Pen Addict podcast.
SSC: Tell us a little bit about your stationery origin story. When did you realize that paper and pens were so much more than just things to write with?
REINERT: I have loved paper and pens and pencils since I was a kid. It was my favorite part about back-to-school. I moved around a lot, often starting in a new school in a new town every year so having new supplies was a bit of a security blanket for me. They weren’t hugely expensive so it was the one thing my mom could afford. I might not be able to have new clothes or a new backpack and I might have had to have used textbooks but I could always get a new pack of pencils and a new Pink Pearl eraser and spiral notebook.
To this day, I always joke that Back-to-school is my favorite holiday because shopping for new supplies is better than anything else. In the age of the internet, I discovered that I could share my enthusiasm with others and join in with a community of like-minded people. But about a year ago, I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and that really galvanized everything for me. I wrote a little manifesto.
SSC: What are some interesting ways in which you use analog writing tools to tell your story?
REINERT: This past year, I did the Inktober challenge for the first time and decided to use the 31 days to create a Knitter’s Alphabet. Each day I used a letter of the alphabet to illustrate a knitting technique or term. I’m a long time knitter so I’m using my pens, markers and pencils to make simple, sometimes silly drawings of sweaters, animals and knit stitches. It was challenging for me. First, just to find the time to do it. But also because I posted the images online—which took a lot of courage to show people my drawings in a big way.
SSC: What's in your bag or on your desk right now?
REINERT: In my bag right now is a Lihit Lab Smart Fit lime green zippered case with 10 Copic Sketch markers, a Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil with red lead, Copic Multiliner SP 0.3 felt tip with burgundy ink, Cross Century with a Uni Signo refill 0.38 in black hacked into it, and my new BigiDesign TiArto Titanium with a Pentel Slicci 0.38mm black refill. I also have a NockCo Lookout case in midnight blue with my Pilot Custom 912 with a Waverly nib, Franklin-Christoph P20 with a fine italic and Sailor Purple Lamé with Greg Minuskin XF nib. In the case is an eraser, a pencil sharpener, correction tape and of course, a magic pencil. Don’t leave home without one.
I also tote around my new Write Your Own Adventure Planner, a Midori MD A5 notebook, an original sized Traveler’s Notebook in the limited edition navy blue leather, a pocket notebook pulled from my copious stash, a loose Retro 51 Twinkle pen, and an A5 Leuchtturm sketchbook.
(talking about my desk at home or at work would take HOURS!)
SSC: What's a typical Everyday Carry for you?
REINERT: See above. My EDC is sort of “the kitchen sink” during the work week. What if I need something?!?!? Besides, I’m a girl and I get to carry a big purse.
If I’m running out on the weekend, I make sure to grab a red pencil, an eraser and some sort of pen and/or fountain pen. Then a pocket notebook and probably a sketchbook. In a pinch, a blank pocket notebook will do so I can jot down notes and lists and sketch or doodle. But I love having a drawing pencil and a fountain pen, and I’ve found that a mechanical drawing pencil in red means I don’t have to worry about a sharpener. But I will always carry a felt tip pen or fountain pen too.
SSC: Walk us through your typical day. What's your process look like?
REINERT: As a designer, my day is a combination of "pixel-diddling”, big-picture thinking and detail-oriented organizing. The pixel-diddling part is where I spend hours zoomed-in in Photoshop at 1600% so I see pixels as 2-inch squares on my computer screen cleaning digital debris, edges and generally making everything look perfect. There’s also “vector-diddling” where I do the same thing in Illustrator correcting vector paths or re-drawing pixel art in Illustrator using vector paths. I look at a lot of lines with little handlebars. I listen to a lot of podcasts in this phase.
The big-picture thinking part tends to involve everything from sketching ideas for a project to making lists of tasks to sitting in meetings. This is where all my analog tools get used. Everything from pen and notebooks to paints and sketchbooks. Sometimes, it’s scissors and glue and it looks like a kindergarten class but you get the idea.
The other part of my job is the detail-oriented part where I have to make sure that everyone before and after me in the production process understands what I want the project to look like. This requires being very accurate describing printing processes both visually and verbally. That can take the form of writing or making actual samples. If it’s writing, I end up filling out forms digitally but if it’s making samples, I may spend time cutting, gluing and assembling samples in order to show someone else what a final product might look like.
SSC: Okay, obligatory "desert island" question. You only get to have one paper and pen/pencil combination for the rest of your stationery using days, what's it going to be?
REINERT: This is the absolutely worst question ever. Just to give myself some variety, I’ll go with the Magic Pencil (or better yet, the Rainbow Pencil since it’s ROYGBIV) since it has lots of colors in it but it would have to be crates and crates of them and I better be able to have a tool to sharpen them too… like a good knife that I can use to get coconuts open on my desert island so I don’t starve to death. And as for paper… Stillman & Birn Epsilon hardcover sketchbooks have been pretty good to me lately but I’m very fickle. And I really love watercolors… and some good brushes… maybe a little ink? And a fountain pen or two? And can I bring knitting too? Lots of yarn…. and coffee?
Catch up with Ana at The Well Appointed Desk, or find her on Twitter as @wellapptdesk