The Tool is Not The Art

Sitting in my inbox is an invitation to join a professional association. For the tidy sum of 130 Euros (about $188 USD) I get membership, subscription to a magazine, access to networking, and as a special gift, I get a Moleskine notebook.

The ad copy reads “synonymous with quality, travel, imagination and personal identity, this notebook is a perfect companion – wherever you find inspiration or a new idea.

Even the webpage for Moleskine refers to their product as “legendary notebooks,” noting that Hemingway, Van Gogh and Matisse all used Moleskines for their creative endeavors.

I think it’s generally agreed that the Moleskine notebook is the gold standard for artists and intellectuals and such…


So why do I have *such* a mental block about using these particular notebooks? I mean, I use a LOT of different notebooks in the course of my day, but something about the Moleskine brand itself makes me want to rebel and shout and say “No, no, no! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”

I want to buy a dollar store composition book and write the greatest tome that ever existed. I wish to make my 9×6 Mead college ruled notebook the new, best standard! Hell, I can create wonderful poetry on torn piece of brown paper bag!



I guess I bristle at the marketing-driven hipster idea that 1) you aren’t a real artist unless you use a Moleskine and 2) by having a Moleskine, that makes automatically makes you an artist.

Plus, they are freaking expensive. A 5×8, 240 page Moleskine is almost $10 on Amazon. And you can’t even angstily tear out a page because of the way its bound, the whole thing gets all jacked up if you rip a page out.

A Mead 5-Star 9×6 college ruled notebook with 180 pages is about $6.00 from Staples. Less if you pick up a bunch on sale. Rip pages out to your heart’s content.

Much more starving artist credibility, if you ask me.

I know, I know. The answer to all of this is, “Then don’t use Moleskines, Crazy Ass (<- my original Indian name)" Ok, by this point are you wondering just what's the point of this blog post? Yeah, me too. I guess the fight went out of me after I typed all those capitalized letters. Oh no wait, no, I got it: The artist makes the tools work. The tools don't make the artist work. If ya wanna use a Moleskine, use a Moleskine. You still have to put pen to paper and make it art.

I love how four years of writing this blog really starts to show the themes that run inside of me. While choosing tags for this post, I was surprised to find that “office supplies” has already been used as a tag. Call me (not) unpredictable…..

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  • Lucky

    I dunno. . .I could care less about moleskines (why is that extra e there after the n?), but I’m a sucker for a ridiculously expensive pen. . .I suppose the words would be exactly the same with a Bic, so I concede your point, but that won’t stop me from cherishing my gold nibbed fountain pen!

  • Elise

    “And you can’t even angstily tear out a page because of the way its bound, the whole thing gets all jacked up if you rip a page out.”

    I’m sorry, that is not a feature, that is a bug. A REALLY ANNOYING BUG. It is also the reason I don’t buy Moleskines.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Lucky – Yeah….I sort of purposefully left out the writing implement because I admit I’m a total bitch for a good pen. LOVE fountain pens with an inappropriate intensity.

    Yes, I can make art with my cheapo stolen from the office pen. And have. But I do love a good writing tool!

  • Karen Fayeth

    Elise – I know, right! I mean, the stitched binding is kind of cool and makes it lay flat, but I gotta be able to rip out pages at will.

  • Beth

    A Moleskine is too much pressure; you feel like you have to write perfect, profound, literary, (etc.) stuff in there. But with the spiral notebook (my personal favorite, too), you feel free to write crap. And remember, it was Hemingway who said all first drafts are crap.

  • Karen Fayeth

    Beth – Right on my spiral bound sistah! :)

    Turns out for me both my first AND second drafts are crap. : shrug :

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