Getting to know... TJ Cosgrove (Again!)

by Stuart Lennon

A returning series, and a returning guest. TJ Cosgrove.

TJ is responsible for the fantastic 90 second notebook tours that you can find on our You Tube channel here. He has been a friend of the site since its birth. He almost never stops bothering me to get into pencils. (Don't tell him, but he's gradually winning me over.)

1) Describe yourself in three objects

Three objects? Oh my, where to begin. If you had to condense the life of TJ Cosgrove into 3 items, I imagine it would be, camera, pencil and sunglasses.

The camera is my trusty Canon 5D Mkiii. Somewhat modified and honed over the years, this has been my trusty companion since I started my company 4 years ago. There are bigger, better and fancier cameras out there, but I love my 5D for it's reliability and reassuring heft. I've filmed thousands of people, conducted hundreds of interviews and shots altogether too many pencils with it.

The pencil is integral to my life. I always have one in my pocket or on my ear. It's a constantly rotating selection, but at the moment it takes the form of a little battered General's Cedar Pointe No2. I'm down to my last 2 of these pencils and I love them dearly. If only someone would stock them in the UK (cough hint cough). I use it for my todo lists, my journal and my everyday notes. I prefer the point sharp and the pencil just slightly shorter than normal.

For someone who lives in a country that gets a meagre amount of sun, I wear my sunglasses an awful lot. These are my wooden sunglasses , and I wear them several times a week. They're polarised, so I find them helpful when I'm driving to cut down on glare. If you've ever met me in person, you've likely seen these glasses. It's the first thing people comment on and countless folks have tried them on. They were a gift from my wonderful girlfriend. I've travelled to many (much sunnier) countries and these are always top of the list.

2) Notebook, Notes App, or both?

Notebook. I have tried almost every permutation of notes app, but none of them ever really stick. I'll plug things into it for a week or two, then my phone will have a hissy fit and it'll take too long to jot something down and I'll revert back to analog notebook. I always have a pocket notebook in my front right jeans pocket (sometimes more than one) and it comes out for all sorts of things. Cold brew coffee notes, films to watch, authors to research, quotes I've heard. It's my second brain, and I have boxes filled with complete books. I go back and read through them any time I need inspiration or clarity.

3) Pencil, ballpoint, gel, or fountain pen?

Pencil. Next question!

I'm kidding. Of course I use pencil as my primary writing implement, but I do enjoy the odd ballpoint pen when necessity or interest requires it. I love the simple Bic click that Field Notes brought out, and I recently got a Lamy Pico which is like having Optimus Prime in my pocket. I have a few fountain pens, and I can appreciate their design and function, but I just don't use them very often if at all.

4) Which three famous people, (living or dead) would you like to have dinner with?

Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Asimov and George Romero.

I'm a huge fan of all three men and their varied work. Benny Franklin's autobiography was hugely influential on me and I have his Join or Die flag hung above my desk in the studio. Isaac Asimov is one of my favourite authors and inspired in me a love of science fiction. George Romero sadly passed away recently, so I'll never have a chance to meet the man that made one of my favourite films "Dawn of the Dead" 1978. Can you imagine the conversation you could have with these three, a few steaks and a few beers? Amazing.

5) What’s the best thing about the place you live?

The people. Northern Ireland is a visually stunning place. There are places I have visited not an hour or two from my home that have literally taken my breath away, but the thing that brought me back to NI was the people who live here. I missed my family and friends, and the shared colloquial shorthand you have with other Northern Irish folk. I spent 5 years living away. I'll travel extensively, but I'll never live anywhere but here again.

6) What’s your most treasured possession?

My Olivetti Valentine typewriter. It's a beautiful red piece of art that I still write letters on. Depending on where you look, or who you buy it from, it's between £200 and £600 and there are very few around. I bought mine for £20 from a thrift store in East Belfast where they had no clue what it even was.

7) Where are some of your favourite ‘Stationery’ spots on the internet?

Hands down it's got to be (Is that good Stuart? The cheque is in the post right?)

I kid, but Pocket Notebooks genuinely is my first stop for notebooks in the UK. I don't buy them very often because I have accumulated so many running W&G, but it's always ahead of the curve when it comes to stocking stuff you just can't get anywhere else.

For community it's got to be The Erasable Podcast Facebook group. The Erasable podcast is a group of three dudes from the US who talk pencils. Their Facebook group is the best place for advice, opinions and support I've ever seen. The passion for the subject and compassion for other members there is unrivalled. If I need a question answered, I skip Google and go right here.

The cheque is, indeed, in the post TJ. 

TJ can be tracked down on all the usual social channels, @Team_Cosgrove  on Twitter and Instagram, at Explosivo on the interwebby thing and his fantastic You Tube channel Wood & Graphite, which I am delighted to say is now sponsored by Pocket Notebooks.