Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers & PILOT Markers

This week at Spray Planet we are taking another look at one of the most basic, yet necessary tools in graffiti: markers. From graffiti’s early days through today, there are two classic markers writers have consistently used: Magic Ink and PILOT. Whether you are an experienced graffiti writer with years under your belt or a newbie just getting started, these are two household graffiti marker names you should be familiar with.  To help you get acquainted or… re-acquainted with Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers we took some time to look at both in a bit more depth.

 100 year old hobo graffiti

Graffiti and Markers A Brief History

When most people think of graffiti they gravitate towards the idea of using aerosol spray paint like Montana Paint, Kyrlon, Rustoleum etc. Interestingly though, marker graffiti has predated spray paint graffiti by at least 50 years!  The felt-tipped marker made its first appearance in the early 1900’s. And even before that simpler solid oil type markers existed (think messier, dirtier streaks).  The point is, while spray paint graffiti is the initial reaction to the word “graffiti” – markers and graffiti have been around a lot longer!

It makes sense then that markers have always been an integral aspect to graffiti. As the name “marker” implies, it allows a person, or writer, to make a “mark” or “tag” on almost any surface. In graffiti, (as you probably already know) tagging is the repeated marking of one’s name, symbol, or group (crew) over and over again. It is easy to understand why tagging became a fundamental, if not one of the most essential parts of any graffiti writer’s skillset. Your tags in the graffiti world are the building blocks to letters and developing your own graffiti style.  Plus the more recognizable tags you have, the more known and respect you get!


Advantages of Markers Over Spray Paint in Graffiti

There are some basic advantages for graffiti artists to use markers over spray paint.  The most obvious is markers are extremely easy to carry in your pocket (and quieter) allowing for easy access and quick use (tags). When compared to aerosol spray cans, a marker is significantly smaller, manageable, and most importantly much, much more discreet. The familiar sound of rattling a spray can before catching a tag will definitely draw attention your way. However, pumping or juicing up a marker is fairly effortless and quiet, thus allowing for more discretion. Moreover, using aerosol paint tends to leave the air smelling of paint fumes and solvents. While some ink-based markers definitely have a slight odor to them, the smell is nothing in comparison to aerosol spray paint.

Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers

Magic Ink Markers Overview

The Magic Ink Marker is theoriginal Magic Marker produced by the Teranishi Chemical Industry in Japan. While the company dates back to as early as 1916, it was in 1953 that the company developed, manufactured, and began to distribute their now infamous Magic Ink Markers. Since its inception, the oil-based xylene ink formula inside this specific marker has been virtually unchanged. Their ink is extremely high-grade that is hard pressed to find in other markers. In fact, for a marker ink (not paint) it’s ability to cover on lighter surfaces is only surpassed by paint based markers. Where it tends to fall short (as most ink based markers) is the Magic Ink marker colors are not very visible on darker surfaces with the exception of their super opaque black ink.

If you are looking to purchase Magic Ink Markers, you’re in luck as it is available via Spray Planet in 10 different colors (shown below). Some of the key shades in the Magic Ink color palette include: Sky Blue, Black, Red, Yellow Green, Pink and Violet to get ya started. The marker itself comes in a refillable, pocket-sized glass body with standard, chiseled-nib about 8mm in size. It’s extremely versatile as it can be applied to surfaces including: paper, glass, plastic, wood, ceramic, metal, and even certain fabrics like canvas and leather! Because of the high-grade components in the Magic Ink marker ink formula there is a slightly stronger odor than other permanent markers, so we recommend using the Magic Ink marker in well-ventilated areas.    


Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers

Overall Features of Magic Ink Markers

  • Short, glass marker body
  • Chisel nib (8mm)
  • Gravity-flow marker
  • Oil-based marker ink (contains xylene)

Pros of Magic Ink Markers

  • Fairly sturdy/durable glass marker body
  • Portable/handheld marker
  • Easy to use marker; perfect for tags and handstyles
  • No pumping/shaking
  • Refillable marker body
  • Replaceable marker nib
  • Fade-resistant ink
  • Waterproof marker body design

Cons of Magic Ink Markers

  • Some marker colors are not opaque on darker surfaces
  • Use with adequate ventilation
  • Marker glass body has potential to break in extreme situations


Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers

PILOT Markers Overview

When you talk about classic Graffiti Markers, PILOT markers are perhaps one of the most well-known, classic and reliable markers and definitely a must-have. PILOT markers are similar to the Magic Ink Marker with regard to use and application, however the PILOT marker body design is significantly different. PILOT markers are designed like many of today’s standard markers. It has a hard, durable aluminum body with a felt tip and contains a fast-drying, ultra-permanent ink. There are 3 different sizes of the PILOT marker most Graffiti Writers gravitate to, all available from SprayPlanet: PILOT Fine Marker, PILOT Broad Marker, and PILOT Jumbo Marker. The felt tip on each of these varies in size and application use and given their high-quality design, durability and low cost – they are one of the best art supply values around.

Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers

The PILOT Fine tip marker model has a bullet-shaped felt point. It is roughly 4mm in size and is perfect for use on slap tags or for getting down with handstyles in the blackbook. Because these use the same high-end, durable, write-on-anything industrial ink, you can also use them for quick tags and landmarks in those smaller, more cutty areas.

Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers

The PILOT Broad tip marker model has a wider chisel-shaped felt point but on the same smaller diameter marker body. It is just slightly bigger than the FINE model, coming in at about 5 mm in size, but with a wider firm chisel tip nib design. Just like the PILOT Fine tip marker model it is excellent for use on stickers, black books and small tags. The added advantage is the PILOT broad chisel point also allows for super solid calligraphy work.

Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers

The PILOT Jumbo marker model also has a chisel-shaped felt point but is a bit different than the PILOT Broad marker model chisel tip. Besides its overall much larger size than the PILOT Fine tip and PILOT broad tip markers, the chisel nib itself is a FAT chisel (10-12 mm square in size) vs the skinny chisel of the PILOT Broad tip marker.  Out of all of the PILOT markers, the JUMBO is probably the more favored by graffiti writers due to its ability to produce massive tags that feel crisp and buttery. An affordable, durable and reliable just all around bad ass marker, the PILOT JUMBO marker should be a staple art supply of every graffiti writer.


Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers 

Overall Features of PILOT Markers

  • Aluminum metal body marker
  • 4mm bullet nib on PILOT fine markers
  • 5mm chisel nib on PILOT broad markers
  • 10-12mm chisel nib on PILOT jumbo markers
  • Ultra-permanent marker ink (contains alcohol/xylene)
  • Solid flow/Streak-free application

Pros of PILOT Markers

  • Portable/handheld marker
  • Easy to use marker; perfect for tags and handstyles
  • No pumping/shaking
  • Solid flow ink release
  • Fast-drying ink
  • Durable marker body
  • Refillable with marker ink
  • Waterproof marker design
  • Available in different marker sizes

Cons of PILOT Markers

  • Use with adequate ventilation


Spray Planet Review of Magic Ink Markers and Pilot Markers

Markers like the Magic Ink Marker and the PILOT marker have undoubtedly withstood the test of time.  Furthermore, anybody that knows the graffiti game, knows that tagging is one of the most essential parts of the lifestyle. Markers like PILOT and Magic Ink have, and will continue to be, some of the go-to tool for graffiti artists of all levels. The simplicity of these and other markers in their design, durability and discreetness will continue to make them a reliable choice for graffiti writers.

1 Response

Bradley Noah

Bradley Noah

June 11, 2021

In my experiences, it’s not that much different from Pilot ink, though a little . Markers like PILOT and Magic Ink have, and will continue to be, some of the go-to tool for graffiti artists of all levels.

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