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Lets make this clear first, the pen is everything for an autograph! You can't make an autograph without ink or it wouldn't be an autograph! We say this because people sometimes get caught up on the item they are getting signed because of rarity or an item that will fit into their collection. If the autograph doesn't come out clear and precise than you could be disappointed with the signature and therefore you then devalue the item that is signed entirely!
Pen choices play a huge roll into this and appearance is everything! We will go over the types of pens we as a sports memorabilia company use on the commercial level so you too can have high quality collectibles and signatures!
You want to try to use a color for an autograph that matches the other colors of the item you are getting signed. This will enhance the overall value of your item if you ever go to resell your item in the future. Collectors don't want an autographed item that looks weird or awkward. Memorabilia is artwork, you display memorabilia in your home or office and have to look at it every day. You want to feel good when you see an item and sometimes if you use the wrong color on an item then it doesn't make a person "feel good" about the item they are visualizing. DO NOT: Getting a Cubs jersey which is Blue, Red and White but then getting it signed in Pink or Green. Don't do this, this is bad, it doesn't match anything about the jersey. Colors that don't match other colors on the item don't appeal naturally to the brain and this stands out in a negative way visually. Even for the people that are not the OCD type will find the color mismatch as an annoyance on the eye. DO: Get that Cubs jersey signed in either blue, red or black (we will get to why black is ok). Keep in mind bright colors may also not work on an item too, the exception is......
Black, Gold and Silver. These are all neutral colors for autographs. If you are unable to get an actual bright color of the rainbow then stick to these 3 colors. Black is the most common and you really can't go wrong with this color on anything and should be the preferred choice for most signatures you get. Black is the color to use on lighter or brighter item you are getting signed. For example: a basketball, football, baseball bats, white jersey numbers, a bright or white colored helmet, etc. Silver and Gold are better on darker items like hockey pucks (which are black), on a photo in a dark spot of the photo, a darker colored helmet, etc. Stick to these basic neutral colors and you will be ok!
The color is important and you want your signature to POP! so always go the opposite side of the spectrum of colors when choosing your pen color. If you are getting a Packers helmet signed which is yellow, go with a black ink or paint. If you are getting a black cleat signed, get it signed in silver or gold.
This is a very important part to the appearance of how your signature will appear. The size of the tip of the pen you are using will determine a lot of the quality of the appearance of your signature. The tip you use comes down to one thing, legibility. You want to be able to read your signatures and not have a big pile of ink or paint on your item that won't appear nice and take away from the visual of the item you are displaying. Sometimes a thinner signature may not appear as nice on a certain item and you should go a little thicker depending on the item. You do not want to get a hockey puck signed in a thick broad tip pen because the signature will consume the entire side of the puck and it won't appear nice. You don't want to get a helmet signed in an extra fine tip pen because the helmet to begin with is a big item and when you use a super super thin type pen on it for an autograph, it will be very visibility small on the helmet and not as appealing to the eye.
If you are not sure what type of pen tip to use, we recommend then usually going with a medium tip paint pen because it is in between a broad tip which is thicker and an extra fine tip which is very very thin. Medium tip will usually appear good on most items regardless of size. Please note if you plan to get an item signed with multiple signatures on it, we recommend sticking to medium tip, so they are legible and so you can maximize the most amount of signatures on your item. We have compiled a list here of the types of pen tips you should use on specific items to help you more:
EXTRA FINE TIP- ticket stub, trading cards (aka baseball cards), hockey pucks.
MEDIUM TIP- Funko Pops, Bats, Cleats/Shoes, Helmets & Mini Helmets, Photographs or Posters (anything 16x20 in size or smaller), Jerseys, Microphones, LPs/Albums, Most Toys, Comic Books, Skates, Guitars, Boxing Gloves, Championship Belts, Pick Guards, Boxing Trunks, Soccer Balls, Other types of Clothing, Artwork.
BROAD TIP- Full Size Basketballs, Full Size Footballs, Large Photographs or Posters (anything larger than 16x20 in size), hockey sticks (blade only), or any item you are looking to fill up a lot of space and would be complimented by a big autograph.
BALL POINT PEN- Baseballs only on the "sweet spot", other than that, do not use.
This is a big part of the signature that effects the long term preservation of your autograph. This is a simple choice we recommend and most other memorabilia companies would say the same about is use paint not ink. The autograph industry as really been "an industry" since the 1970s. Before that people got signatures for sentimental purposes rather than resale value. Since then, we have had enough time to evaluate how ink holds up long term. We as a company will say have more issued with ink then paint because sometimes ink will bleed into the item it is signed on and almost give a fading look for some time until it eventually fades off based on environmental factors sometimes you can or cannot control. After evaluating millions of signatures over the years we can say that ink seems to bleed / sink into an item it is signed on rather than paint usually stays on the surface of the item as it is a thicker substance. We have seen paint hold up a lot better long term and appear as if items were literally just signed rather than aging on an item that often happens with ink.
At the end of the day an autograph will take its natural course and it's like that with anything. It all comes down to the type of ink or pen used on an item and how porous the item is that the ink or paint goes on. Factors discussed could change based on these factors. The chemicals used in paint also play a factor as we have encountered some brands of paint pens we are not too fond of so there is definitely a difference in this regard. But we do recommend to sticking to paint if you are looking to have your signature appear on your item for many years to come and this seems to be the common opinion from autograph collectors in the industry. We also recommend you look into a display case or custom framing for your item as this can help the long term preservation of your items.
Lastly, the brand of pen that checks a lot of boxes that fit the types of pens we recommend above would be DecoColor Paint Markers. Let's start off with the fact these art paint pens, and they do not use ink in their pens. Deco manufacturers a lot of different colors so the array of choices you can get from them to really make a signature POP! on your item is also met by Deco. Their quality of paint they use really make signatures shine and have a unique appearance that other pens we have used in the past do not offer. We use Deco on all of our items to get signed as we know they will hold up long term and display well for many years to come. Deco offers the 3 types of tips that fit the best needs for most autograph collectors and as we discussed above the pen tips can make or break the appearance of a signature in no time! We purchase our DecoPens from Dick Blick Art Supplies because they have a wide array of color choices at very good prices and usually have a sales going on for items on their website. Here are links to the most common pens we purchase from them to make it that much easier for you to do your shopping!
We hope this information helps out and that you learned a lot from the experts at Inscriptagraphs Memorabilia! As you can see, there is a lot that goes into getting that perfect autograph on your perfect item! Its not so cut and dry which I'm sure you would agree after reading this post. Please note this blog post was made based solely on opinions of our company and there are no guarantees this information will apply specifically to you or any autographs you may get in the future. Please be aware 3rd party links that click away from our website are done so on an affiliate basis, and we receive a referral fee from these 3rd party advertisers and affiliates.