New York artist uses Uniball pens, draws everyone in the city

Jason Polan has to be one of the most ambitious artists ever.

He is trying to sketch every person in New York, one pen-and-ink drawing at a time. He’s been at it for three years and, so far, has finished about 14,000 drawings, according to a recent Agence France-Presse profile on his project.

As he explains on his website, Every Person In New York:

I will be drawing people everyday and posting as frequently as I can. It is possible that I will draw you without you knowing it. I draw in Subway stations and museums and restaurants and on street corners. I try not to be in the way when I am drawing or be too noticeable.

Jason Polan 1

The sketches are not heavily detailed, but are intended more to capture the essence of the person and have to be drawn quickly, as he is seeing the person, Polan told AFP.

On a recent rainy day Polan stood unnoticed in various corners of Grand Central station, relentlessly capturing new faces on his pad.

Many of his targets were moving, but he’s learned to draw quickly, barely looking at the paper.

A figure took shape on the page within seconds. In a minute or so he had the person down: a man with a leg brace stopping to call on his cell phone; a woman with a long package; a man in a fedora; a man hunched over.

We were curious about this artist. Specifically about the pens he uses to document the people of Gotham. So, we asked, and this is what he had to say:

Uni Ball UB200 Black

I use a Uni-Ball Vision Elite bold black ink pen for most of the Every Person in New York drawings.

My favorite pen is the Itoya Finepoint .6 pen but those were discontinued!  I have slowly been switching over to the Uni-Balls (which I actually now prefer for drawing people/making quick drawings) but am really a bit lost without my favorite Itoyas!

I use a nib and dip ink for drawings and illustrations sometimes, along with the Itoya and Uni-Ball.  I also like the [Pilot] Precise V5 pens (I used this pen for the drawing I attached).

I am usually pretty open and excited to try out new pens but usually come back to those favorites.

If you’re ever going to be in New York and want to add yourself to the collection, Polan sometimes makes appointments for his subjects. All you have to do is email him with the time and place where you will be and agree to be there at least a couple of minutes. He may just show up to sketch you.

Oh, and in case anyone knows where he can get some Itoya .6 pens, we’d be happy to pass it on.

Photo of author

Tony Bridges

As a seasoned journalist and freelance writer, I've spent over three decades telling stories and exploring the world through the written word. With a passion for writing instruments, I found my niche at The Pen Vibe, a blog that shares our collective fascination with pens, pencils, and other tools that have shaped the art of writing.

Leave a Comment