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The exhibition took place in San Francisco last week, late spring 2016. We were able to publish the book on time, too, which is quite unusual for us, due to the endemic disorder of our office and the lack of a proper press editor. The title of the book is, simply put, INK. It collects 250 portraits made by Carlo Muttoni while on a journey for a personal survey on American youth. What makes the work behind INK quite unusual in the world of visual arts is – namely – the ink: a special medium developed by Brandpowder after two years of research. The thick, oily liquid is made out of octopus’ ejections, a natural mix of melanin and tyrosinase, mixed with cartridge’s black toner, lemon juice and Siberian vodka. The ink is slightly toxic and must be applied wearing a paper mask. Once the fumes evaporate, filling the room with an unexpectedly pleasant scent, a thick, shiny layer of paint fills the paper, sinking deep into every pore and absorbing light like a black hole. Yet, at a closer inspection, every line is sharp and brilliant, revealing the outstanding clarity of an engraving carved by a surgical blade. A new kind of aluminium and ceramic fountain pen was developed to withstand the corrosive mix and a layer of laque is applied at the end of the process to avoid paper’s deterioration and to preserve ink’s quality. While the 1,000 copies of the book were on print, Joshua Maillen – an acclaimed art critique who came to visit us –  dryly suggested us to find a room to stock all the unsold copies. The exhibition was a success, though, and the book is now on his third reprint (sorry, Joshua).

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Above: detail of the fountain pen’s double-nostril nib developed by Brandpowder. This gimmick lets the ink flow rapidly enough not to clog the inner pipeline.

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Above: Lester Kling, from the Brandpowder Team, sprayed by an annoyed octopus in Santa Barbara. More than thirty dives in total were needed to collect just an ounce of ink. Below: these simple ingredients must be combined together with a careful dosage (our secret recipe) and kept for at least a month inside a fridge.


To have a better idea about the quality and durability of this substance, you can see the work made by Ester van Hulsen, a Dutch artist who painted with a 40 million year-old octopus’ ink, extracted by a fossil.

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  1. Hello,

    My name is James Miller, and I’m inquiring as to if you or any of your circle of influence would be in the market for Octopus ink from Alaska. A friend of mine is a local commercial fisherman and artist in Dutch Harbor and is considering marketing the ink from the octopus’ he catches if there is enough interest. Please let me know or put me in contact with anyone you’d think would be interested.


    • Dear Sir,

      thank you for your interest in Octopus’ ink. Our Team was able to distillate almost 16 oz. of the black stuff, enough to complete the project, but we are not actually interested in trading animal liquids and we aren’t able to put you in contact with anyone interested in this business. either.
      We hope you’ll find a solution elsewhere.

      Kind Regards,

      The Brandpowder Team

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