July 05, 2018 5 min read


At Modern Fuel we take pride in designing and making our products with high levels of precision, attention to detail and quality and we are inspired by other artists whose work and processes also demonstrate these same characteristics. While the product design and development for the Modern Fuel pencil involves everything from engineering design, to materials sourcing through production to testing and quality control, the entire development can be seen as a creative process.  We love being challenged to push our work to the next level and so learning about other artist’s processes was only natural for us. We put together a list of artists whose work and processes inspires us. Artists Andrew Banks, Vi Luong, and Thierry Duval all produce unique, high-quality work, they each use pencil at some point in their process and are each creating really stunning work.  Read more about each of their them below and make sure to visit their websites to see more.

Andrew Banks is a Chicago-based artist, freelance illustrator and urban sketcher. We are not only fascinated by his impressive watercolor, pen and ink and graphite studio work, but also with his gift for creating art in his sketchbooks on location throughout Chicago and in his travels.  Andrew uses the training he received while earning his Master of Architecture degree to create custom architectural illustrations for architects and builders, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, event planners, the real estate industry as well as individual collectors.  Here is a watercolor commission he completed of Northwestern University’s Levy Mayer Hall.

When he isn’t drawing or painting a commission in his studio, Andrew enjoys urban sketching (drawing from observation, on location) throughout Chicago. Andrew has been carrying a sketchbook with him everywhere he goes since 2008 while on a month long architectural study abroad trip to Italy and France where his passion for drawing and painting began.  His sketchbook allows him to experiment and work with different drawing and painting techniques, styles, and mediums, as well as to gather inspiration for larger works and to maintain his creative eye.

Here is an example of one of Andrew’s urban sketches of Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Building.  While sitting on the sidewalk, Andrew first laid the drawing out in pencil, using his Bronze Modern Fuel mechanical pencil.  Once shapes, sizes and composition of the drawing were mapped out in pencil, Andrew brought the drawing to life through inking over the pencil lines with hatching techniques and with a pop of color added on the flag with watercolor.  Through leaving the background bare and emphasizing the shade, shadow and volume of the Wrigley Building, Andrew takes artistic license with the drawing and directs his audiences to what inspired him sit down to capture this scene; how this stunning classically detailed, terracotta clad building stands out from its context in the constantly evolving Chicago skyline.

With an active following on social media and a passion for connecting with, supporting, and collaborating with other artists, creatives and small businesses, Andrew is excited to have recently connected with Andrew Sanderson of Modern Fuel and to be taking on the role as a guest writer for the Modern Fuel blog.  Andrew will share his knowledge of the mechanical pencil as a tool for creating art with, as well as his knowledge of all things related to the Modern Fuel mechanical pencil.

See more of Andrew’s work on Instagram and Facebook.

Vi Luong is a Brooklyn-based pen and ink artist, best known in the Instagram community as @Mister_Vi for his recently completed #1011drawings project which depicts a wide range of subject matter as ink drawings in Moleskine sketchbooks.  From intricately rendered architectural details to everyday items like coffee cups or plants, to realistic and expressive facial portraits, Vi’s work is simply mesmerizing to look at. One can easily get lost in the intricacy and depth in each of his pieces.

Take Vi’s drawing of the Roman Coliseum for example.  If you look closely, one will notice the early stages of the drawing which Vi lightly mapped out in pencil.  The subtle pencil guides provide a skeleton for the major proportions and shapes of the structure and composition of the drawing.  Vi then applied layer upon layer of a variety of highly intentional pen and ink strokes, marks, and textures to the page, meticulously giving volume, depth and lifelike appearances to the Roman landmark.  We truly admire his masterful use of hatching, stippling and other mark making techniques.

To anyone who has worked with pen and ink, you will appreciate how unforgiving it can be.  One accidental spill or out of place line can often ruin an entire piece.

What is most impressive about Vi’s work is his uncanny ability and patience in working with such an unforgiving medium.  Once permanent ink is applied to the page, there is no turning back. No eraser will help you here.

Not only does Vi’s artistic process require a high level of skill and forethought, it also demonstrates precision and attention to detail which, time and again, results in high-quality pieces of art.  Mister Vi’s work has been a steady source of inspiration for many and if you haven’t already, we encourage you to see more of his work on Instagram.

With a background in art and illustration, Thierry Duval is another artist whose work with watercolor has taken Instagram by storm and inspires us.  Providing his massive audience of 145,000 Instagram (@thierryduvalaqua) followers a glimpse into his studio and painting process, Thierry’s photos tell a story of the arduous work required for creating his beautiful, hyper realistic watercolors.

Best known for his articulate depiction of urban scenery, and most recently in an ongoing series of Paris’s urban landscapes, Thierry’s paintings employ a variety of techniques from wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry painting, to lifting, scrubbing, blotting and dry brushing to a heavy use of masking fluids.  However, like Vi Luong, Thierry’s paintings also begin as humble pencil drawings.

Thierry openly reveals to his followers that while his pencil work is hand drawn, they are pencil tracings of his original photographs which are digitally projected onto the watercolor paper.  Tracing such intricate and complex scenes still requires many artistic choices, interpretations and notations of value, shade and shadow that are necessary for setting each drawing up for the equally meticulous painting stage.

For those of you who have worked in watercolor, you can appreciate the patience, precision, and attention to detail required in every stage of the process with this medium.  From pre-painting preparations such as choosing the right paper size and weight to preparing the paper for painting, to creating the under drawing, to the choice of the color palette, to the actual execution of the painting itself employing all of the necessary painting techniques.

Thierry is producing some of the highest quality work of any watercolor artist living today.  His paintings tell incredibly descriptive visual stories and it is the attention to detail and quality in his work that has attracted us to his art.

See more of Thierry’s work on Instagram.


Andrew Sanderson
Andrew Sanderson

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