Issue#18 Users, Collectors and GAS

Gear Acquisition Syndrome, Doodles, Ink Challenge Progress

Issue 18 | 10 September 2023

Welcome to Issue 18! We have a full house in the using fountain pens department - doodles from both Nandini and Tarun.

Users, Collectors and GAS

Once upon a time, I was a professional photographer. Out of necessity as well as interest, I was part of many different photography communities. One thing we spoke about (and joked about) in all of them was something called Gear Acquisition Syndrome - GAS. This referred to folks who called themselves photographers, read the latest photography articles and had wish lists for all types of equipment. And all they would talk about was equipment - and they would talk about it till the cows came home. But ask them for some photos they have taken, or a link to their portfolio, and they would have a ready list of excuses.

Why am I talking about photography here, you ask. Well, I was thinking about GAS in the context of fountain pen enthusiasts, and asked myself, “Does the term really apply here in this hobby?”

In my limited time in this hobby, I have come across two very clear types of fountain pen enthusiast - the user and the collector. I self identify as a user, so please keep that in mind while reading the rest of this - I freely admit to any bias that might manifest itself!

The user is a fountain pen enthusiast who will use their fountain pens, and will think nothing of giving up a fountain pen once they are sure it sees use no longer. This is not to say users do not have large collections - indeed many of us do. But the primary objective of fountain penning is to use as wide a variety of pens as possible to have as many writing experiences as possible, and if possible, possess those pens that give us the most pleasurable ownership experience - however we might define it for ourselves as. But we have, every single one of us, inked every pen we have, and have used them to our heart’s content. You won’t find any shrink-wrapped, unopened pens in our collections.

The collector is a fountain pen enthusiast for whom collection is the main point of the hobby (duh!). They might ink a few of their pens, and it is highly unlikely that they have inked all of their pens. They collect pens so that they might have a complete set in whatever terms they define it. It could be all colours of a particular pen, all nib variants of another, and all years of release of yet another. These enthusiasts are no less knowledgeable or passionate about their pens - it’s just that they enjoy their pens in a different way from the users.

Like all things in this world, this is a very loose definition, and many many folks fall somewhere between the two. This is a case where the intersection is far far larger than the non-intersecting portions.

Now that I have put that out there, I admit that at times I find the scramble to acquire pens by some enthusiasts a bit overmuch. However, I must also admit that it is out of the fervour of collectors who are fellow fountain pen enthusiasts that I have had the chance to try out some really rare and beautiful pens.

It seems to me like gear acquisition syndrome is not merely a part of this hobby, but essential for a lot of folks to enjoy it, regardless of whether they call themselves collectors or not!

What do you think?

FP Doodles

Nandini Ramchandran | Instagram

Tarun Durga | Instagram

“There must be a better way to make the things we want, a way that doesn’t spoil the sky, or the rain or the land.” - Paul McCartney

This sketch was made when I was working on a project around sustainability. Fountain pens are generally considered to be more eco-friendly because of re-use. This doesn't hold true for us as enthusiasts - we want more pens! All the more reason for us to be careful about other aspects of our life - to make more mindful choices about what we acquire, so we can balance the equation. 🙂

Check out Story & Canvas - Limited edition digital art by Tarun Durga. Quirky and original, inspired by literature and music. Available as journals and prints.

Everyday FPness

I am happy to report that I have been able to continue with the 30days30inks challenge. Though it looked like I was going to drop out in the middle of the week, I caught up and am going strong. I feel hopeful that I might even keep going until the next issue of Fountain Pen Weekly!

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Got something to share with your fellow fountain pen enthusiasts? Drop me a line and we’ll make it happen :)

That’s all from me this week.

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