Pen Pals Interview: Cartoonist Dustin Harbin Shares Some Comical Illustrations

Dustin Harbin is a cartoonist and freelance artist from the city of Charlotte, NC. Allegedly “pretty good with kids,” he also delivers

talks at libraries and teaches classes. Check out more of his work here.

Image courtesy of Dylan Chorneau

I am the fourth product of a carpenter/seamstress union, and thus, naturally, a cartoonist. I live and work in Charlotte, North Carolina,

where I worked for years in a large comic shop before going full-time as an illustrator in 2010. My work runs the gamut between

autobiographical (and occasionally funny) comics, and a large body of commission illustrations known as “Hour Drawings” that have garnered an

energetic following on Tumblr.

I’ve been drawing with nibs (read: dip pens) for the last few years, but within the last year I discovered the Tachikawa T-77 soft mapping nib. The

T-77 is comparable to the Hunt 102, or the standard crowquill nib used by many of classic illustrators. Over the years, the 102 has lost a

lot of its quality, as manufacturers and processes change (as with a lot of art supplies). The Tachikawa T-77 is somehow strong and rigid,

yet flexible enough to give your line a little bit of weight. I draw very, VERY small, so it’s nice to be able to keep a regular line at

small sizes, but with enough bounce to give my line some life. Anyone who follows me online has probably heard me sermonizing about this nib,

which I use with the blue Tachikawa pen holder.

Another thing I’ve been doing lately is using Pentel Aquash

brushes, which I load up with various hand-mixed inks. I have about 7 or 8 now, mainly in primarily colors, flesh tones, etc. That way

when I’m on the go I can quickly add color to a drawing, right over my ink lines. I also keep one loaded up with plain old water, which I

sometimes use with good old pan watercolors, but you can’t beat these water brushes for convenience. I got the idea from Dan Berry, another enthusiastic Jetpens user.

Oh, one more thing! I recently discovered the Uni-

ball Signo Broad, a white roller ball gel pen that I’ve been happily using to correct my line art. The ink goes on fairly opaquely, and

dries faster than others I’ve used. It’s not waterproof, so be careful there… but you can cover black ink fairly well, which is really hard

to do sometimes. It’s also great for stars, white lines, etc.

Ever wonder how artists use JetPens products? JetPens showcases artists every month and interviews them to see what their favorite JetPens

tools are. Please send any suggestions for Artist Features to penpal(at)!