Vendor Profile: Pilot Corporation of America


Many find it surprising that even in the digital age people are still writing by hand. They find it even more surprising that the pen category is over $1.1 billion and that sales have been increasing every year for the last five years. They then wonder why anyone would choose to write by hand with so many digital communication options available to them. The reasons are both clear and simple – handwriting delivers benefits that no other form of self-expression or communication can.

Numerous scientific studies have quantified the tangible benefits of handwriting in learning and memory, in goal achievement, and in health and well-being. Writing connects us physically and emotionally. Each person’s handwriting is as unique as their fingerprint and few things are as closely tied to our identities as our signatures. We can instantly recognise a loved one’s handwriting and feel the emotional connectivity. We will always be intimately connected both to and by writing… and to the instruments we write with. 

We clearly handwrite less often than we once did. When we do choose to write, the instrument that we select is that much more important. This mindful selection process has fuelled growth in the more premium pen types ranging from gel ink pens, with their smooth writing and vibrant ink colours (+7%), to fine writing pens with metal accents, striking designs and finishes (+4%).

At Pilot Corporation of America (Pilot Pen), we are proud of our 100-year heritage of crafting the world’s finest writing instruments. We are passionately committed to bringing high-quality, innovative writing instruments to the market that will delight our consumers and inspire their creativity. In the US, Pilot Pen is the market leader in the premium gel ink, rolling ball and erasable pen categories.

The Benefits of Handwriting

The brain fires in a fundamentally different way when you are handwriting versus keyboarding. More neurons are engaged through the act of writing by hand and there are also fewer distractions. The benefits of writing by hand can be experienced across many aspects of our busy, stressful, modern lives.

Enhanced memory

One area where these benefits have been observed and measured is in the classroom. Recent studies of learning and memory in college students concluded that in-class notetakers who used a laptop retained significantly less information compared to those using pen and paper. The students who handwrote their notes had to process and reframe the information, actively engaging more areas of the brain. This process led to deeper comprehension and greater retention of the information versus the verbatim transcription the students employed when using a laptop.

This is an example of the ‘levels of processing effect’ observed across dozens of studies and across all age groups over the past several decades. This effect has even been seen in children as young as five in early literacy acquisition, and in senior citizens working to maintain their mental acuity. 

According to a new study, we can further enhance the benefits of writing by combining it with illustration. “Drawing to-be-learned information enhanced memory” and this was a reliable, replicable means of boosting performance. We use both sides of our brain when writing and drawing, engaging it in a more complex manner than when writing alone and helping us to learn, retain more and achieve more.

Enhanced creativity

Handwriting can also have an important effect on our creative processes and abilities. Creative ideas need time to take shape. The multiple strokes required to form each letter, paired with the more complex brain engagement, appear to give the brain valuable extra time to process and create. Many famous authors write out their novels by hand. Truman Capote reportedly wrote by hand, as do Neil Gaiman (a Pilot Pen fan), Stephen King, Erin Hildebrand and JK Rowling.

The act of drawing and doodling while writing can serve to further enhance the creative process by simultaneously engaging the analytical and artistic parts of the brain. This can help lead to innovative creative solutions, breaking through writer’s block or coming up with completely new ideas.

Enhanced sense of well-being

The modern world is fast-paced and stressful, and we are always connected by our digital devices. This has resulted in a sense of digital overload. Many have begun to embrace the idea of ‘digital detox’ – refraining from using electronic devices and embracing physical interaction and analogue communication. Journalling and expressive writing, whereby a person writes down their thoughts, feelings, aspirations and details of their emotional state, have been linked to reduced stress, enhanced mood and even faster healing when done regularly.

There has also been a resurgence in hand lettering and calligraphy. The unhurried process of creating hand-drawn typography causes the brain to work in a complex manner, combining writing and illustration and tapping into both sides of our brain. The results for the writer include beautifully drawn letters, a sense of accomplishment and, often reduced perceived stress levels. Decreasing stress has been shown to increase serotonin, the body’s natural mood-enhancing chemical. With these benefits in mind, it seems clear why this form of writing is core to the digital detox trend.

Merging digital with analogue

Surprisingly, the analogue hand lettering trend and the digital world appear to have reconciled via social media. Calligraphy and hand-drawn typography are hot topics on Instagram and Pinterest, with over 300,000 posts and mentions receiving more than 350 million impressions year-to-date.

Dollar sales in the art and colouring market total over $1.5 billion, greater than total pen category dollar sales. Given these consumer trends and feedback from our loyal ‘penthusiasts’, Pilot Corporation of America has launched the Ensō Collection, a curated selection of fountain, calligraphy, brush and lettering pens inspired by the timeless art of writing.

Ensō is a Japanese word meaning ‘circle’ and symbolises enlightenment, strength and elegance. The collection is inspired by this idea and Pilot’s 100-year Japanese heritage. Each kit provides individuals with the tools they need to create stunning calligraphy and hand lettering, and is well-suited for creators of all skill levels. Each includes exceptionally-crafted writing instruments and top-quality inks, along with instruction booklets linked to inspirational online content.

Pilot Pen remains committed to bringing exceptional-quality, innovative writing instruments to a new generation of pen and ink enthusiasts. We believe in the power of the written word, we believe in the power of a Pilot pen.

Artful Ensō

From beginner to expert, Pilot Pen has the artful writing tools to help you make your mark.

The Ensō Collection comprises several writing experiences. No matter which kit users choose, the ability to create artful writing is within reach.

  • The Kaküno Fountain Pen Set is ideal for those who are just starting out with a fountain pen and exploring the world of hand-drawn typography. Kaküno means ‘to write’ in Japanese and that’s just what this fountain pen helps you to do. The Kaküno pen features an appealing smiley face on the nib which, when oriented upward, ensures perfect nib position for writing. The kit contains two complementary nib sizes and ink colours, so novices and seasoned fountain pen users alike will be able to explore a range of writing techniques and create stunning artistic lettering.
  • The Plumix Fountain Pen Set features three italic fountain pen nib sizes and three ink colours, so users can create line width variations while practicing their hand lettering. The design of the Plumix calligraphy pen was inspired by the ‘plume’, or feather, that was used to create early fountain and calligraphy pens. Combining these elegant lines with transparent demonstrator barrels in vibrant colours, and paired with matching inks, the Pilot Ensō Plumix Fountain Pen Sets are a unique way to add calligraphic flair and striking colour to your writing.
  • The Ensō Brush Pen Set is designed to deliver colourful precision, control and limitless expressive writing possibilities. This multicoloured collection features seven extra-fine brush tip pens ideal for more detailed hand lettering, and one bold tip black brush pen that delivers rich, dark, flowing lines. The brush pen tips mimic the feel of a real brush, so users can create varying line widths, but still have the command of a felt tip. From novice to expert, the Ensō Brush Pens pens enable you to create artful hand-drawn typography.
  • The Lettering Pen Set includes three felt-tipped calligraphy pens of varying nib widths. They are the perfect tool for penning a beautiful handwritten holiday or thank you card using calligraphy, or making your journal entries
    more artful.
  • The Parallel Pens are designed to delight expert calligraphers who want to take their work to the next level. The smooth writing Parallel Pens are a major breakthrough in calligraphy pen design – the nib consists of two parallel plates which allow for sharp, monoline writing with the narrow edge, and expressive, calligraphic writing with the broad edge. It is the only fountain pen designed for the creation of colour-blended letters; by touching ink from one Parallel Pen to a second one loaded with another ink colour, you can create remarkable ombre colour effects.