Finding an idea and creativity space with PLOTTER – Brad Dowdy [Interview No.003]

PLOTTERs are active in a variety of worlds, and their energy is full of creativity. PLOTTER Magazine highlights change-makers who trace their steps from the past to the present and lead the future in a positive direction. Through their ideas and values, we hope that the stories of PLOTTER, like the tools we create, will inspire you for your creativity.

We interviewed Brad Dowdy who is a content creator, owner, and podcast co-host of The Pen Addict, a brand that covers all things stationery, ink, pen, and paper. Over the past decade, Brad transitioned from his IT background into a full-time creative career. In his journey of discovering how analog tools like good pens and paper can lead to happiness, he had also helped a lot of readers along the way.

Brad is extremely passionate about his job, which involves writing and curating content that keeps up with current trends in the stationery industry. He’s an avid podcaster and streamer that tells stories and share knowledge on air. When juggling many priorities and tasks for a content creator like him, we were delighted to see PLOTTER assist him in his creative work.

How did you find yourself diving deeper into the stationery industry?

I have a lot of thoughts on very simple things and how they work for people. In the beginning, I would go into an office supply store and test out all the pens, then rank the best three. Then I got into fountain pens where I learn alongside my audience as I explore this trend back in the early 2010s. As I learn more, I share how I was learning with my readers. Questions come up and we explore them together. This all leads to more and more conversations about pen and paper. It’s a big cycle of learning, sharing, expanding your education, and passing it forward.

We joked that your job is kind of like a stationery therapist, what is that like?

I love what I do. I can’t NOT do what I do. I love learning about new things, sharing them with other people, educating people, and helping them discover what might be good for them from a stationery point of view. With stationery, it’s not one size fits all. Everything single person is different, and I come from a place where I’m willing to help people on an individual basis.

When I started the blog, every comment gets a reply and every email get an answer. Over the years, I got better at helping people solve their questions, instead of just putting posts up. Although my answer is never the right answer, I still want to help you find the right answer for yourself!

(Brad trying out how fountain pen inks perform on PLOTTER Refill Memo Pads)

Also, I have a lot of fun with it too. It’s not life or death topics we’re dealing with, we’re talking about pens and paper. So, I don’t take things too seriously. I try to be very informational, but also want everyone involved to have fun doing it. At the end of the day, if people find one tool that makes their day better, that’s all I need.

Why do you think creativity over paper persisted despite the advancement of digital tools?

I believe that analog improves your life because it slows things down, makes you think, and allow for space to be considerate of your actions. When you’re writing on a page, it has more importance and significance than writing on a word-processing tool where you can backspace and delete it without a trace. You would take the time to think about what you’re writing down.

How do you use pen and paper at your jobs?

Even when I was at my IT job, I would always bring my notebook and pen to write with. It takes longer, but it’s better. I think pen and paper are more than tools, they are necessities in helping you figure out how to be the best version of yourself.

My work always starts with analog, it’s not an option. From product sketches to ideating for the next post, I’ll always start with pen and paper. I value the freedom from the screen to put my ideas on the page. I’ll only use a digital device if I need any reference. Once my ideas are out, then we can check email, type up the article, and that’s how I get my best work done.

How have you been using PLOTTER in your creative process

I use my A5 PLOTTER Shrink (in the most vibrant orange I’ve ever seen in a stationery product, I love it) in three parts, with an emphasis on the first two. In the first section, I utilized the 2mm grid Refill Memo Pads to take notes and do a lot of writing. In the middle section, I have a blank Refill Memo Pad for reviews, pen testing, and ink testing. I like that I can use this section without structure and worrying about making a mess. Finally, in the back, I’ve utilized the To Do List Refill Memo Pads for tasks. I like the separation, and how much I can put into the system because the paper is so thin.

PLOTTER speaks to me from a design, quality, and performance perspective. I enjoy using it for product reviews, brainstorming sessions, and taking notes. I genuinely think the product is excellent.

I tried out many planners and notebooks at my job. My planner has rules, my journal has rules. However, I don’t have any rules when I open this up, so it just becomes a space to explore, freewheel, and expand on ideas. It’s an idea space that none of my other notebooks have.

Have you always been into paper and analog as a kid?

Absolutely. Paper came second, but the pen was my first obsession. When I was growing up, pens and paper options were slim in the US. However, I have small handwriting so I wanted pens, mechanical pencils, and anything that could help me write tiny lines. I discovered that by going to college bookstores, I would be able to find pens and tools for engineering and architecture classes. Then I discovered college ruled paper, which led me down the rabbit hole of graph paper, and here we are today. It’s a whole process of finding tools that I enjoy using, instead of trying to adjust my handwriting to fit standard loose-lined notebooks.

What’s so special about finding tools that work for you, especially in the stationery sense?

I think people want something that’s more personal that could express themselves on the page (or in their hands) better than what’s commonly available. There are many options in the stationery industry, and we’re acquiring unique tools because they make us feel different about the work we do, the art we make, and the designs we create.

It’s a very personal feeling when you find a pen that clicks with you or a paper and ink that speaks to you. When you care about those things, you start looking for them, and it becomes a personal quest (laughs). Although stationery is a small thing, it’s all part of a bigger picture: how you do work, your mental health, your happiness. These little things matter to people who are really involved with them. I may have too much stuff now, but I can tell you why I have each one of those things, what it means to me, and why I think it’s cool.

Finally, what kind of person do you think PLOTTER is for?

I think it’s for people who take their writing and analog tools seriously. It’s for people who are discovering that there’s this analog world out there that can make a difference in your life and how you feel about using these kinds of tools. It can be impactful in your life in the long term, once they discover tools that fit them best.

[ Brad Dowdy, Podcast Host and Content Creator]

Brad Dowdy is a content creator and owner of The Pen Addict, a website dedicated to reviewing stationery items and diving into the world of pen and paper. It is also a podcast where he shares soundbites of his perspective on new trends and items in the industry. He is also the co-owner of Spoke Design and Nock Co. When Brad is not on Twitch sharing tidbits of stationery news, he enjoys following baseball and spending time with his family.