Hi everyone,

I'm soliciting inputs for an upcoming column regarding paint pens vs. markers. From my experience in the past, I always tend to use paint pens whenenver possible since they are not as susceptible to fading as Sharpie. I also tend to shy away from silver Sharpies since about 99% of the silver sharpies I have tried in the past do not work well. Anyway, I'd like to hear from some of you regarding your own experiences with paint pends and markers, and maybe some tips you have for others when using these items. Thanks!

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I also use paint pens whenever possible. They work on jerseys, hats, photos, helmets, bats, comics, etc. I have used silver, gold, black, blue, and pink paint pens with great successes each time. As with anything, there are drawbacks to be aware of. On one occasion I approached an athlete who was obviously not experienced with a paint pen and he used a lot of pressure when signing with the pen. Paint Pens, if properly charged, do not require much pressure. In fact, the excess pressure that he used caused a giant pool of paint to spill out onto the photo. One other word of caution, paint pens do take a bit longer to dry. It is critical to be careful with the autograph until it is fully dry.

My blue sharpie is definitely my preferred pen for autographs on photos, but my experience with silver sharpies are very inconsistent. If you get lucky to have one that works well, use it quickly. Once it has been used, they tend to dry up quickly, even when stored properly. For me, it's not worth the risk to rely on a silver sharpie.
Paint pens work great for Tshirts and jerseys. As for helmets, some of the thicker parts of paint tend to chip off and get all over making the helmet look dirty. The paint also takes alot longer to dry so you must be extra careful when getting multiple items signed so as to not let the signatures get smeared.

As for silver sharpies I try to only use them as a last resort. They look real nice on photos, footballs, and basketballs but you have to be careful how you handle them. The oil from your fingers smudges the ink. One of my first multiple signature items I was working on was a football signed with a silver sharpie. Even though I was very careful not to touch the signatures they still got smudged from the players handling the ball.
Hi Steve,

You're absolutely right about one aspect of the paint markers - they do take a little while to dry after signing, so you have to take precautions not to touch the autos for a couple of minutes. However, my personal experience with silver sharpies is that they are horrble about 99.9% of the time. For one, they don't write as bold as silver paint pens, and the actual paint doesn't flow as consistently over the item, leaving you with often times streaky autographs, especially on glossy items. I have personally purchased maybe about 3 or 4 dozen of the silver sharpies over the past few years, and maybe only 1 or 2 of all the markers wrote decently, but still didn't compare the paint pens. In general, though, I think your comment about not touching the autos applies to both paint pens and silver sharpies. My paint pen of choice is the Decocolor, but I have had footballs and other equipment on which the autos were later smudged some after I accidntally touched them. So, the idea of paint pens and markers being 'permanent' is really a fallacy if you get right down to it. I appreciate you input!
If you were putting together a Christmas present for a new collector, and you knew that a lot of the images they were going to get signed had dark backgrounds, so you wanted to get them a pen--what would it be?
Hi Kimberly,

I would personally get them a silver DecoColor paint pen (fine point), but would remind them to make sure the pen is nicely charged before using.
What about ball point pens vs. thin sharpies, especially on baseballs? What's your opinion on that?
Jeff, you know this is an interesting question, and it is actually a topic I was planning on using for a future column in the magazine. I have been collecting signed baseballs since I was a kid, and have always used blue ballpoint pens. All the major autograph companies, such as Steiner, Tri Star, and Mounted Memories all use blue ballpoint pens as well. Anyway, I would like to go ahead and start a new group for getting baseballs signed, so we'll have future posts applied there. Thanks!
The only thing that's bad about that is NO MATTER what you use (paint pen or in Sharpies) , you are NOT going to defeat age when dealing with the "whats the best pen?" debate no matter what...either way you should use whatever is good for you, but, its NOT going to beat age.
I have found that with the silver sharpies if you bend the tip abit on something hard prior to using it will work fine. I have a tire signed by Kyle petty and used a silver sharpie for it and the autograph still came out well to be seen. I even have a shapie pen that I think is almost over 1 yr old and works well still and its a silver one. I have had drivers sign their cars at the merch haulers with a silver sharpie so they must be doing something we are not to have them work. as for paint pens I haven't tried it yet myself but I know sellers on ebay have said they used a paint pen and I can't really tell if there is a big difference. maybe I will try one on a hero card and see if any big difference
Okay I know this is an old post but I have a question. I have printed out photograhs on my ink jet using the required photo paper and the correct settings on the printer and the photos come out great and color fast.

But when someone uses what looks like a silver paint pen they do not want to dry properly and are still coming off on my finger almost 3 weeks after receiving them. So I am trying to figure out why these will not dry on my pictures but seem to dry on other photos I have bought.

I have even gone to asking people to only use the Sharpies on my pictures. Luckily I have only printed and mailed about 20 or so and I have started getting my photos printed somewhere else so hopefully I will not have this problem.
Hi Chris,

I'm guessing that this is a function of your photo paper. A lot of collectors go the route of printing out their own photos in the hopes of saving money. But, in the long run it seems that it's still better to go the route of Costco or some other online companies, such as They tend to use the professional-grade paper, and these companies will cost you a nominal fee of about $1.50 a pop for 8x10s. But I have never experienced the problems you're having when using with these places.

Most celebrities will sign with silver Sharpie markers, mainly because they don't know any better, as is the case with a lot of promoters out there. And, silver Sharpie markers are 95% horrible from my past experiences. Even if you send them a nicely-charged silver Sharpie with your request, there's still never a great guarantee that they'll actually use it. The better route is to do some more research and find photos that will look good getting signed by blue or black marker. Those are almost fool-proof in the industry, although you'll still get some bad apples

My best advice s to print out your photos for autographs via a professional distributor, and save your personal home photos for your home printer.
Yeah I just sent out about 100 pictures to be printed by Walmart and I will check in to the online places but Wally World was convenient this weekend and I can have them back this Thursday. Hopefully they won't decide that the pictures I pulled off of the internet are anything but public domain pictures.

But I did try and find lighter pictures so they could use a black sharpie. Just received some black and white pictures back from Jerry Lewis and thank god he used a black sharpie plus he donated limited edition signature bag 395 of 1000 and signed the tag for my charity I help out.




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