In my spare time, you’ll find me tinkering with and fixing obsolete computers. I also go for the obsolete output devices like dot matrix printers and thermal printers. One other type of output device that I’ve spent years exploring are pen plotters. These far gone pieces of technology used ink pens to draw lines on paper. It was often the only way to get output from a computer in a large format and in (limited) color. They fell out of favor in the late 1980s when ink jet plotters took over.
I’ve collected plotters of all brands, shapes, sizes, and feature sets. But having a plotter is not enough. You need to be able to plot something to it to make it useful. Forget opening your favorite application like Photoshop or Illustrator and hitting COMMAND-P to print the page. This simply will not work. The plotter doesn’t directly interface with your modern computer, nor do they speak the same language anymore.
— Paul Rickards (@paulrickards) October 9, 2017
To that end, I’ve spent over a year developing code that explores algorithmic art in many different styles, from emulating early computer graphic experiments to coming up with unique ones. For me, there’s something so absurd and inefficient but also mesmerizing and magical about a pen plotter.
I’m sometimes asked if I sell the plots that I make. While it’s not my goal to mass produce these, I’d be happy to to sell you one. Most plots have a degree of randomness to them so each is unique. Pens and paper also have a quality that lends themselves to imperfections that contribute to the uniqueness of the piece. I post on Twitter under the #plottertwitter tag where many other enthusiasts also share their work.
Prices start at US$199 + shipping. Payment via PayPal. If you see something that you like, let’s chat at email@example.com.