Rugged. ‘Murican. Sexy. Okay, maybe not sexy. Nah, I was right the first time…it’s pretty sexy.
Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen
Price: $85.00 to $240.00 (depending on configuration and where you buy it)
Nib: EF, Titanium (Bock)
Filling System: Standard International Cartridge/Converter
About the Company:
Karas Kustoms is a small machine shop located in Mesa, Arizona, USA. Company founder, Bill Karas, started working as a machinist in high school, and after a number of years grinding metal for “the man,” he opened his own custom machine shop. Although he started as a one-man band, he soon hired industrial designer Dan Bishop as an assistant. Bill gave Dan a broom and told him to clean up the joint.
They produced a number of different types of products, most notably iPhone cases. They sold relatively well, and the company saw steady growth, but were still missing that one big idea that would slingshot them to prominence.
During this time, the crowdfunding site Kickstarter was experiencing a trend of successfully funded pen design/manufacturing projects. This phenomenon caught Dan’s eye. He reportedly threw down his broom, ran to Bill and said, “Dude! We need to make pens.” Bill laughed and told him to pick up the broom and get back to work. Dan argued. They grappled a bit. In the end, Bill let Dan run with the idea to see how it would go. Dan fired up his industrial design engine, and their first pen, the Render K, was born. After the 30-day Kickstarter campaign ended, they had just under $70,000 in funding to produce the pen. All were shocked. Bill stopped laughing.
Disclaimer: I took a whole lot of liberties with the facts on that bit of company history. I think the general premise of my tale is correct, but I made up the laughing and grappling parts. For a more complete and accurate journalistic account of their history, check out this August 2016 article on AZCentral.
Revisionist history aside, the Render K was a huge success, and it vaulted Karas Kustoms into the pen manufacturing world, to the shear delight of both the fountain pen and everyday carry (EDC) communities. Over the next few years, Karas Kustoms continued to use Kickstarter to fund new pen designs. Today, they have six major designs (and a new one about to launch any day now) in a number of configurations and material combinations.
About the Pen:
One of their newer designs is a meaty, full-sized fountain pen called the Ink.
I’ll just get it out there now: the name “Ink” is a ridiculous name for a pen. Especially a fountain pen.
“I just got a Karas Kustoms Ink!”
“Karas Kustoms makes INK??? Where’d’ya get that?!”
“No, no. It’s not ink for a pen…it’s a pen named ‘Ink.'”
“That’s the name of the pen: Ink.”
“So, Karas Kustoms doesn’t make ink?”
“NO! they only makes pens. The pen is called the Ink.”
“Why would they call a pen Ink?”
Unlike its name, the pen is not at all ridiculous.
The Ink is machined from rods of metal (aluminum, brass, or copper). All three materials come “naked,” and the aluminum version is also available anodized in a number of gorgeous colors. In addition to the wide array of metals, colors, and finishes, there are five different options for the grip section: polished aluminum, tumbled aluminum, black anodized aluminum, brass, and copper. And if that wasn’t enough, you also have a vast selection of wonderful #6 Bock nibs to choose from. The nibs come in all the standard sizes in regular steel, black steel, two-tone steel, and titanium. So overall, you have a pretty dizzying array of options to choose from.
I bought my Ink back in March 2017 at the Arkansas Pen Show…or more specifically at the Vanness open house during that weekend. I looked over the different colors they had in stock and settled on the red. I paired it up with a tumbled aluminum section and an EF titanium nib. It turned out to be a pretty sweet-looking configuration. So with my customized EDC pen in hand, I happily tottered off into the sunset.
And to be honest, it’s been inked up and part of my EDC ever since.