AI in the Pen Community

I don’t think it occurred to me that AI might ever rear its head into the pen and stationery community. Since so much of what we use in this community is hard goods and, often, very timeless goods at that, it does seem surprising that AI would ever be a topic we might discuss.  However, Laura brought it to my attention that a recent release from Ferris Wheel Press The 2024 Aurorealis Limited Edition Ink utilized AI in its development and packaging design.

Notable design details:

  • By embracing new technology, we’ve used AI to help conceptualise Cybearnice’s high-fashion futuristic garb, complete with stylish damask details and anti-radiation technology.

The description definitely makes me wonder if the copy for their promotion of the product wasn’t also written by AI.

The addition of “anti-radiation technology” is seriously suss as well. Is Ferris Wheel Press suggesting other inks or inks from other manufacturers are radioactive? Even if its just supposed to be “playful” wording, I don’t think you should joke about radiation.

Beyond the oddness of the promotional copy, as a pen-and-ink consumer, are you more or less likely to purchase a product that you know to be created with AI?

More discussion about the Ferris Wheel Aurorealis ink can be found on Reddit.

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29 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Ugh. What a load of bollocks that is. I say AI so it must be good. Yeah. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic isn’t it so let’s bamboozle our customers into buying this ink. Come on. It’s ink. In a bottle.

  2. According to the FP subreddit, Van Dieman’s also has been using AI art on their bottles & boxes since last April, with no disclosure of it. (Direct link to comment thread – )

    Gross. Just gross.
    Just pay actual artists, please.

    I was becoming disgusted with FWPs issues (outsourced & non existent customer service, white label pens marked up a LOT, exploding bottles, etc.) and this is just the nail in that coffin for me.

  3. Definitely LESS likely.

    At this point in time, there isn’t anything “intelligent” about AI – it’s basically just a really fancy predictive text algorithm. That’s how you end up with nonsense like … anti-radiation ink? Does it have lead particles in it or something? yeah, that sounds safe


  4. AI creation is, for the most part, a big NOPE for me. It’s a stupid hyped product, and I can’t wait for people to get tired of it.

  5. The more I read about FWP and their practices, the more I avoid them. This AI BS isn’t helping their cause.

  6. It seems so antithetical to everything the analogue community enjoys that I’m surprised they even thought of this product.

    Maybe they’re attempting a marketing stunt, but the community isn’t big enough for bad press to “get the name out there” to new customers. Everyone who actively buys ink and pens knows of FWP already.

    The funniest part, to me, is that this could easily be an April Fools joke. I wonder if any other companies planned an AI-designed release as a joke and now have to go back to the drawing board because someone actually, unironically did it.

  7. I saw a Russian film once a year or two ago titled “Better than us” ( I think in Russia it was titled, “Better than people.”

    At any rate, the future of AI and robots taking over is not all that farfetched. Just look at the small changers in the past few years. Less jobs requiring people and more robotics and AI. I read where White Castle has use of robotics for flipping burgers. Imagine,
    Just saying….

  8. Hi Ana, thanks so much for bringing this to my attention – and the community’s attention. This is a dealbreaker for me – I am done with FWP going forward, and might move the bottles that I have. OpenAI right now has major ethical issues in that it does not compensate artists and writers whose work has been used to train AI without consent. Until that is resolved, generating artistic products for sale using AI is going to be a dealbreaker for me.

  9. My general reaction is “why bother?” Fountain pen inks are not something where generative AI is at all relevant. (And yes, hire an actual artist for your art, don’t risk copyright infringement.)

    Though I could maybe see using generative AI to come up with ink names. Out of curiosity, I asked ChatGPT to generate a list of ten names for different colors of fountain pen inks, then repeated it twice. The results were certainly names I could see being used for ink colors, but mostly weren’t that exciting (Midnight Sapphire; Golden Harvest; Ruby Red; Moonlit Lavender, which appears to actually be someone’s company name; Sage Serenity; Rose Petal Pink….) I was sort of hoping for something like what Janelle Shane at the AI Weirdness blog gets.

    (Okay, I take that back. When I said “Make the names weirder”, I got things like Galactic Gherkin and Quasar Quicksand, which I would love to see as ink colors.)

    1. I 100% want to see galactic gherkin as an ink. But honestly, a whole collection of celestial fruits and vegetables is a great concept: white dwarf pumpkin, Orion onion, black hole blaeberry… (ideas generated without the aid of AI but possibly with the aid of alcohol).

      1. There are a few brands I could see running with this! Colorverse, Birmingham, Wearingeul, Diamine….
        Galactic Gherkin sounds so fun!

  10. AI is a hard pass for me. I’ll boycott any brand that uses it.

    I’ve been following artists like Jon Lam, Reid Southen, and Karla Ortiz as they fight back against genAI companies. The number of unethical means that were used to get data from hundreds of thousands of non-consenting artists is terrifying.

    The ‘cybearnice damask’ is a significant departure from their old designs, which I liked a lot. Compare this box with older ones like Queen and Castle or Goose Poupon which have these adorable cross hatched illustrations on them. Makes me sad to see them abandon any ethics for a far worse looking product.

  11. No, I wouldn’t purchase a product that I knew was created with AI.
    I feel that it is being forced upon us from all sides trying to normalize it.

  12. I can’t wait until AI generated anything goes the way of NFTs and we never hear about it again.
    It’s a waste of time and resources, not to mention a huge insult to artists everywhere.

  13. I don’t really care, I’m buying the ink, not the packaging.

    Also LOL at anyone pretending that creating commercial art for FWP is such a worthwhile endeavour that it needs to be preserved at all costs.
    And this in a community that frequently defends Chinese copies of pen designs.

  14. It’s disheartening to read that AI is being used in a niche community to take the place of a human artist. Why am I having to type that? I’ve only received FWP inks as a gift. I won’t be buying from them now.

  15. AI generated text is so fluffy and stupid that it’s likely to turn me off to anything it pitches. It sounds like a computer made word salad of a Gartner Group white paper. I was already turned off of FWP inks because they are mostly so pale, and the bottles appear so hard to use. I believe this is the ink fudefan referred to as ‘dirty water in perfume bottles.’ Since someone mentioned Van Dieman’s, I found their ‘feline’ inks very perplexing and I wonder if they fed an AI algorithm pictures of cats and asked what the ink should be like – no tortoiseshell cat (I’ve had five or six) is purple with green highlights, and green cat eyes are not the color green of that other color. Seems to me that anything generated with AI is going to fall short of what it would be if real people made it, so it won’t even be a decision I’ll have to make, I’ll hate the products all on their own.

  16. I wanted to add for clarification (full disclosure I am a product ambassador for FWP) that the copy we got was “By embracing technology, we’ve taken inspiration from AI to help conceptualise Cybearnice’s hand-illustrated high-fashion futuristic garb, complete with stylish damask details and anti-radiation technology.”

    They do point out hand-illustrated in the copy they gave the product ambassadors… for some reason it didn’t make it to the copy for the sales folks? And in the direct version of the copy, “anti-radiation” is more obviously referring to the bear’s outfit and not saying anything about ink properties at all.

    As a writer, I don’t love AI being used to cut out professionals. Art is a skill and a craft and it brings joy to both the creator and the audience. I fully agree with the attitude that robots were supposed to take the dangerous or crummy jobs, not the creative ones. Art is a skill that is developed and unique to a person, and society at large needs to stand up and show respect for that. It’s the humanity on display that we’re actually interested in… not what a computer regurgitates after its been trained using stolen work.

  17. Gen AI is a hard no. I haven’t bought from FWP and already kind of avoided them because of reputation, though I forget why (QC issues?); I certainly won’t buy from them now, and I’ll avoid Van Diemen’s, too (kudos to subgirl for pointing that out). I will stop buying from my favorite ink makers if I find out they use gen AI. The only acceptable use of tech built entirely on theft and exploitation is to subvert it a la Glaze and Nightshade. Plus it’s just dumb.

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