Pencils by Sam Rowe

I’m an illustrator. I use pencils a lot. I like the way they feel on the paper, and the way I feel the paper on them. It’s like having fingers that are made of graphite with all my own nerve endings in them. They’re a bit like people too. With use they gradually expire and wear down. Although I suppose if you left one for a thousand years and didn’t use it it would just be fine. A person wouldn’t.

So what if it’s the other way around? How do I know that when I draw a line on a page—the blood and guts and insides of the bit of graphite glued inside a hexagonal cylinder ground into pieces and communicated onto the paper—that I’m the one in control? You get a feeling sometimes where you can’t draw what’s in your head. Almost everyone you meet says that’s the reason they don’t draw. But what if that’s because the pencil is drawing with you?

Maybe when you draw what you had in your head it’s just a clarified moment of cooperation born from some need by the pencil to lay low and not betray the secret that we’re the tools and they’re the hand.

Still, I got frustrated the other day and snapped one in half. The wood splintered and the graphite puffed a burst of dust into my face and settled on the paper. I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty certain it was easier to draw what I was thinking of after I’d broken that pencil.

Sam is an illustrator from the U.K. He knows, he got lost and ended up here.