Getting to know Tj Cosgrove

by Tony Short
Tj Cosgrove has dedicated the last 5 years of his life to writing, planning and creating content which embodies everything he loves. Filmmaker by day, pencil aficionado by night, these once disparate pursuits are combined in the creative powerhouse that is Wood & Graphite. We chatted with Tj, finding out about his favourite tools he uses, communities he learns from and general insight into his love for stationery and the analog.

1) Describe yourself in three objects
Three objects? Oh boy... Camera, Pencil, Paper?

2) Wood or Mechanical Pencil?
Wood! Though there are a few really nice mechanicals out there.

3) Ballpoint, Gel or Fountain Pens?
Ballpoint I guess? I've never used a fountain pen and I hate mess, so whatever dries fastest.

4) Sketchbook or screen?
Depends on the content. I normally sketch text based stuff out on paper. I can't draw to save my life so I do all my drawing in Illustrator, which after 6 years I'm almost as fast as analog in.

5) Tell us about a couple of your favourite materials to work with?
My go to at the moment is a yellow legal pad with a sharp woodcase pencil. Something about the simplicity calms me. Yellow legal paper is still a novelty here in the UK so it's fun to use. I often doodle or write notes in a Field Notes when I'm on the go and I ALWAYS have a pencil behind my right ear. I find the shower is a good place for inspiration, so sometimes I'll take a woodless pencil and a waterproof notebook with me, should the muse decide to appear.

6) Which country or continent is your favourite for Stationery?
It's gotta be the States. There are so many passionate manufacturers, both large and small. Here in the UK we have a dwindling Pencil industry with almost no recognisable brands or models. Our most popular pencil is actually German, while our Colonial brethren have a veritable bounty of choice. That being said, there are a lot of fine Japanese pencils and stationery.

7) Apart from your own blog, which other stationery blogs would you recommend following?
I have a little rotation of blogs that I like to follow to keep up to date with the analog arts, in no particular order:

Matthais Meckel is  a UK based German who is fantastically detailed in his blog and often covers European pencils I've never heard of.

Andy Welfle is one of the Erasable Podcast hosts, a pencil blog veteran and a fantastic guy to collaborate and chat with.

Johnny Gamber, the man, the myth, the legend. He wrote a pencil blog before it was cool. Another Erasable host and all round friendly fellow. His instagram is mostly adorable children, coffee and nice pencils.

A relatively new blog from Elaine Ku (of JetPens) which deals in staionery and the art of calligraphy. As a meat fisted neanderthal, I can only watch in awe at the intricacies of her talent.

And it cannot be forgotten, the Erasable podcast. If you like pencils, or analog arts in general, this is essential listening. The Facebook group is the centre of my online connection with other pencil people and a hub of passionate, interactive and wonderfully friendly people.

8) Do you practice any productivity techniques or hacks?
Practice is the best word for it, as I'm historically very, very bad at productivity. I work for myself, often from home, and this is one of the best ways to get absolutely nothing of value done. I try and work in condensed chunks (of about 40 minutes) to focus and corral my easily misled mind. I write my todos for the day on an index card and systematically cross them off (a cathartic feeling) and often I'll take myself off to a coffee shop or library to work on paper based items, as it gets me off my feet, away from a computer screen and out into the world.

9) And… we’ve got to ask. What’s in your pencil case?
I don't have one! I tend to vary my tools based on task, location and time. I do have a pencil roll, with 30 of my nearest and dearest pencils, though it lives in my bag and only comes out when I need something or when I'm feeling particuarly decadent and wish to use 10-12 different pencils in a single sitting. (people in Starbucks do not often understand the need for 30 pencils in a roll, especially if you're just writing) Without fail, I have a pencil behind my ear (it rotates, currently a Mono 100 but it was a Blackwing 602 over the weekend and a Blackwing 725 last week) a long point sharpener in my pocket and a pocket notebook or two (Currently a Field Notes Shelterwood for daily notes and a Scout Books plain notebook for notes on Stoicism which I'm currently researching)


Thanks to Tj for taking his time out to chat with us. I highly recommend engaging with Tj on his social channels including his extremely popular YouTube channel and his thriving Instagram account. Tj is also on Twitter along with his blog Wood & Graphite.