pen friend5

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).

pen friend1

pen friend6

pen friend2

pen friend3 copia

pen friend3

pen friend4

ink book

pen friends


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.

Schermata 2016-06-07 alle 23.50.34

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.

Share your thoughts