As a party planner who specializes in crafts for the young and young at heart, I am always on the lookout for new products to enhance my crafting.  I do a great many large events where I will have up to 100 people crafting at any given moment. This means I use a lot of product.  It also means that I need products that produce good results,  Which is why I was so excited when the good folks over at ARTIQO sent me 2 sets of their oil based markers to try out.

If you are into crafting then you know the importance of a good marker, especially one that can work on all surfaces without smearing or washing off over time.  My business offers everything from mandala rock painting to tipsy turvy tea cup decorating, so the scope of surfaces is pretty broad.  For me, finding a paint pen that can handle a multitude of materials without bleeding or running is a major coup.

Here is what I look for when trying out new markers:

1.  Are they non-toxic?  I work with children, and so it’s important that my materials be hazard free.

2.  Does it smell?  Often paint markers have a toxic smell, not the best for working with kids.

3.  Are they easy to charge?  Many markers can take up to 2 minutes each to charge (the act of releasing the ink into the tip). When you are trying to prep an event for 500 crafters, charging 150 pens can be a long and daunting process.

4.  Does the ink flow smoothly?  Markers that stop working mid stream can be very frustrating to a kid.  Equally, markers that release massive amounts of ink, causing puddling on the project.

5.  Does the ink bleed or smear?

6.  Are the colors vibrant and do they cover well?  I can’t tell you the number of markers I’ve used that have such weak color they appear almost translucent.

7.  Are they easy to clean up?  It’s important for me to know if I have to warn my patrons about the potential for stains on such things as clothing and skin, not to mention rental linens (no one likes an angry linen company).

8.  Do they last a long time?  There are several parts of any marker that can wear out.  The point can become mushy and undefined, the ink can dry up, the caps can loosen over time.

9.  Does the ink last a long time on the project?  Is it washable?  Very important when working with glassware, porcelain, or wood that will be hung outdoors.

10. Price.  Always a consideration when I’m having to buy lots of product for large groups.

Here’s how the ARTIQO pens stood up to my 10 criteria:

First off, I should let you know that ARTIQO sent me two sets of pens, the fine point, which is indeed a very fine point, similar to that of a Paper Mate Flair Pen or Sharpie Fine Point marker, and the medium point, which is consistent with that of a standard Sharpie or medium Uni Posca Pen.

1. As these are oil-based markers they can’t be considered non-toxic.  I think they would be fine with children ages 7 and up.

2. That being said, they do not smell.  There is no odor at all.

3. Each pen is individually shrink wrapped, which was a bit of a pain and added about 30 seconds to the charging process.  The pens themselves charge easily though, taking about 30 seconds, once they were unwrapped, to make them fully functioning.  The steps are pretty straight forward and listed on the box.  One note, the fine point marker is quite sharp and so I opted to use the pen cap instead of my finger to push the point down to clear any trapped air.

4. OKAY - for me, this is one of the most important factors in buying a pen.  The medium point pens work very well, the fine point, not so much.  I found that 3 of my 15 fine point pens puddled when using them.  This is a BIG NO in my world.  When a pen bleeds ink it goes in the trash.  For 3 pens to puddle straight out of the package is a warning sign.  On top of that I found that the fine point pen just didn’t deliver ink to the tip in a smooth fashion, the ink skipped and caught on many of the surfaces I tried.

5. As to bleeding and smearing - I was pretty impressed.  There was a bit of bleeding on raw wood, however, I’ve never found a pen that didn’t bleed at least a little on raw wood.  On porcelain, glass, and slick paper I found clocked the drying time at somewhere between 10 to 15 seconds.  Which is pretty good.  Sharpie oil based markers take about 20 to 25 seconds, and Uni Posca can take up to a minute.  All in all this is a much better marker for slick surfaces, the drying time equals less opportunity for smearing while creating.

6. The colors are nice and bright, and I like that the assortment comes with gold and silver, both of which are very metallic in appearance, even on wood.

7. Clean up wasn’t bad.  I was able to use a scrubby sponge to remove any marker from the table,  Warning - this will stain clothing and skin.  Very similar to a Sharpie pen - on skin it washes off within a few hours, fabric will be stained permanently.

8. I can’t really comment on the lastability of the pens since I’ve only been using them a few days, but for now, the medium pens seem to be fairing well, the fine point, not as well.

9. Both glass, wood, and porcelain have shown no signs of flaking or losing color/design.  I would resist scrubbing them with a textured sponge, but for general wear and washing they seem to hold up well.  

10. As far as pricing goes they are half the price of the Sharpie brand paint markers, and about the same price as a Uni Posca set.

My honest assessment: 

Pass on the fine tip markers.  I think you can find a better brand of marker.  But the medium point markers are a great bargain and a good, solid product.  I was impressed by their colors, their flow, and their durability on a variety of textures from fabric to glass.  I would certainly recommend the medium point markers for personal and class related works.

I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to try these pens out.  Personally I will be buying about 10 sets of the medium point markers for an upcoming Alice In Wonderland party.  I’ve got 500 kids decorating ceramic tea cups, and I think these markers will be perfect.  And if that’s not an honest endorsement for a product, I’m not sure what is.