Autographs 101! Tip Of The Week! What Markers Should You Use? Paint Pens? Sharpies? Pen Guide To Graphing!

Hey autograph addicts! We do a gear grinding special every so often on Mike the Fanboy.

I thought about it and I realized that unless we had a article to complement the negatives, people out there can never really learn how to improve themselves or make changes to become better graphers.

When I started collecting autographs, I made tons of mistakes. We all did. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it!

Don’t feel bad! We were all there at one point!

And you don’t have to live in Los Angeles or New York to collect autographs. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying. Remember, my motto is there is always a graphing opportunity out there, you just have to find it.

Big or Small… It’s about the love of the hobby.

Therefore, we will be doing tip of the week specials to help some of the younger readers and graphers that are making some mistakes.

This week’s special is pens

I am constantly complaing about pens. Good pens are the guide to a great autograph.

Now, I understand many collectors have preferences. Pen choice changes on a case by case basis. Some items might call for a colored paint pen. However, let’s take this step by step.


Let’s take the common pen. Now, I am not talking about markers. I am referring to the standard ball point pen, – the kind of pen you use for crosswords or making quick notes. The only case where an autograph and a ball point pen come into play is when you are getting an autograph on a baseball.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

Not photos. Not posters. Not toys. Not books. Only a baseball.

Markers bleed and ruin a baseball, and a ball point pen looks the best and will last the longest.

Stick with the name brands! Don’t get some cheap knock off you have never heard of. There are reasons name brands have wide recognition. Name brands have higher quality control overall and resistance against light and time.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

You don’t want your baseball faded with light or the passing of time.

In addition, use blue or black ink. Not red. Not green. Not purple. Not pink. BLUE or BLACK!

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

Therefore, my suggestion, is going with the standard.

  • Blue or Black
  • BIC Round Stic

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week


Now let’s talk about permanent markers. If you are collecting autographs for the long run, there is only one marker brand you should have in stock.

I will be talking about paint pens and silver/gold seperately, so don’t get flustered.

I am talking about the name brand Sharpie. Once again, if you get autographs, you can NOT have some knock off that you would find in a dollar store. You would be putting your entire future collection at the risk of some knock-off brand.

Therefore, Sharpie is the leader of standard autograph collecting.

Let’s talk about Sharpie colors

Stay Away from Red, Green,  Pink, Purple, Yellow, and any other color that is not Blue or Black.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

You are probably asking Why?

  • Fading
  • Color Changes Over Time

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

With light, these colors are fall victim to fading overtime and for the most part turn BROWN within years.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

Now, Blue and Black are the standard for graphing in Los Angeles or New York.

However, Black also has its negatives!

  • If it is a dark item, some celebrities will sign black on black as a signing tactic.
  • Black has a golden yellow ring surrounding autographs forming over many years.
  • Black can also turn brown on regular type paper or cardstock. Therefore blanks, index cards, or books should be signed in Blue to avoid the yellow halo or brown color change.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

Now, while I hate Black, it also has its positives!

  • Some celebrities don’t sign in blue
  • If you have a stack of items, black dries quicker than blue

Therefore, keep a black backup just in case.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

But, Blue is supreme.

  • Fade Resistant
  • Color Change Resistant
  • Dark Items still can be seen due to blue tint
  • Collector Appreciated

Now, while out of production and very expensive, the original permanent Blue Vis-A-Vis marker was an option. However, the newer ones are not made by the same company and I have seen collectors make the mistake. The newer permanent markers do NOT have the same consistency and I have witnessed collectors using a the Vis-a-Vis overhead markers. Big Mistake. Stay away from them unless you can get your hands on a original, out of production Blue permanent marker. Even then, I would still stick with the convention blue sharpie.


Sometimes Silver or Gold is just needed for a certain item. I understand that. However, if you are in a crowd, and you can get blue or black on item just as fine, just stick with the conventional. There is too many factors with a silver or gold.

But let’s break it down.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

Sharpie Metallic Silver

When you have a good working silver Sharpie, it can be your best friend. However, one out of every four to six silver sharpies work well. You have to constantly prep the pen, and it is not ideal for long term use. Therefore, it is typically ruined after one or two outings. I wouldn’t push it past ten autographs. I usually just buy a new one after I take it out once, throwing the newly used one away. In addition, the newly bright tinted silver autograph changes its silver complexion overtime. It become duller and duller, and only time will show me its true color. Silver Sharpies can also dry out quickly depending on weather.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

Infinity Metallic Permanent Marker

It was originally the SRX, but after a company and brand change, you have the Infinity Metallic Marker. I have used these pens a couple times. They offer a bold nice signature, but have some complete disadvantages. These pens have issues of drying out in very cold weather. Depending on weather conditions, they either dry less quickly and the silver diminishes with each autograph. However, I stopped using them, as my trust with each graph also diminished. They have a habit of rubbing off and this can be bad if your photo rubs against another photo, the sweat on your hand penetrates the autograph, or if it starts to sprinkle.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

DecoColor Liquid Silver Opaque Paint Marker 

The Deco can be king! But, I repeat “can.” It was almost universal with great collectors within the last several years. It can bring forth some of the most beautiful autographs and it has great durability with masses. However, racking multiple autographs with a deco is almost impossible as it takes a while to dry. This paint pen is more prone to smears, running, and blow-ups. You have to test it constantly as a dry or leaky Deco could ruin an item. You can’t open it straight from the packaging and start using it. You have to prep it as soon as you need it, but it can result in great looking items.

AUtographs 101 pen tip of the week

Prismacolor Premier Metallic Silver 

While the deco is great, it is not always easy to find. I believe this is a great solution, and has the same remarkable results. I honestly think this is a great option. So far, I have not had an accident with the pen and it serves fairly durable with each autograph. However, both options still have prolonged drying time and prevent getting multiples signed fast.

Let’s end this article off on a couple notes…

  • Make sure to constantly test your pens. It doesn’t take any time and it serves as a preventative measure.
  • When prepping your permanent marker, don’t push down. Angle the tip at 45 degrees and roll back and forth. Repeat many times until you get perfect line thickness.
  • Think long term. Don’t go with what might look cool like rainbow colored metallic markers.
  • Stick with name brands
  • If you can use blue or black, stick with it. They are reliable and work well.
  • Don’t experiment with your collection at the cost of other collectors.
  • Don’t use sharpie on any type of plastic, rubber, or foam. Use a paint pen. Sharpies fade on plastic and bleed into rubber. (This includes Toys, Figures, Pops…)
  • Avoid Water Based Paint Pens, Stick with Oil Based.

Hope this helps…

Tell us what you think! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment! If there is a pen that you found and can’t wait to share, let us know!

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