📓 Field Notes Expert. Everyday Carry Lover. Writing Products Reviewer and Provider
I'm Justin and I'm just a simple man who has an unusual passion for notebooks, pens, gadgets and the stuff you carry around with you everyday!
My journey in life has seen its fair share of ups and downs - a true roller coaster ride. Thankful I found my muse and happy place in loving Notebooks and other Everyday Carry goodies. I honestly enjoy buying notebooks - but hardly find the heart to use them. Think about me as a serious collector, who's collection includes all kinds of Field Notes, Midori Traveler's Notebook and Moleskines. This craze eventually led me to set up Blank and Write - a blog outlet where I share about notebooks, as well as providing a platform to supply local enthusiasts the Field Notes notebook, imported directly from USA. Over the years I've made many friends in the local community, collaborated with international makers on limited edition notebooks, and even formed local enthusiast groups (Midori)
I believe "Everyone Deserves a good quality notebook" and hope to grow the community in Singapore by making hard to acquire products accessible!
For this AMA you can ask me
Ask me anything and I'll try to answer!
NOTE from the community manager: This AMA session is scheduled to go live this Thursday, 1st October from 8pm to 10pm SGT! If you have any questions you can post them first and Justin will answer them once the AMA begins. Remember to subscribe to this thread by clicking the button below so you will get updates on answers! It's a community discussion so please be nice! Rude/tasteless remarks will be moderated.
Hello Justin - big Field Notes fan! Used to get mine when I was in the States, and then later when I made a trip to Tokyo. I didn't realize they were available in Singapore until GroupHunt. Which is your favorite edition and why?
Now you can find Field Notes in Singapore!!!!
My favourite is the Original 3-Pack Graph Paper. That is my very 1st Field Notes. Why? It allows small handwriting, and since I am having an OCD problem, it looks neater in every way. :P Currently, i am using a 3-columns system in my notebook. On each page, I will divide the page into 3 equal columns. And I will start writing (usually my To-Do-List) in the 1st column and then move on to the next column and then the next. This way, I can make full use of each page - I love seeing each page filled up. Empty space makes me errrrr....
Cool dude nice notes... Are you using graph or bullet paper? I can't really tell.
I personally like the Ambition and Night Sky series.
When I was in Tokyo I picked up a Hightide x Re_Standard Notebook.
It's one of the coolest notebooks I own and I've temporarily stopped using it because I'm worried I'll use it up too soon before I can get my hands on the next one. The notebook comes in A6 through A4 sizes, and has metal rivets on the top so you can tie a rope or lanyard through it to wear it with you out in the field. It's kraft cover has 3 perfect folds, so that when you flip it open to write, the cover sits perfectly flushed with the notebook's top spine (though technically I think this would be problematic if you were wearing a Lanyard). It's filled with graph paper, with a perforated tear on the top line that allows you to hand selective memos without potentially destroying the rest of the book. I'd highly recommend this.
Maybe now that I think about it.. maybe we could grouphunt it.. @joelleong?
What made you start Blank and Write? What's the best EDC purchase you've made so far, and why? What is your favourite pen?
Thank you =)
Blank and Write comes a LONG WAY, ever since i devoted myself into notebooks. Back in 2008, I have wanted to sell notebooks - everyone uses a notebook, in a way or another. It took me 5 years of dreaming - what to sell? where to get the products? what-if this? what-if that? where to get the money? What name for the company? How to market the company - and the list goes on. In Oct 2013, I finally made up my mind to make the dream REAL. But I was lost - I don't have a name for the company. I got the inspiration from a picture I took in 2009, which I named it "Blank and Write"
Best EDC? I will say it's the KeySmart. Link: https://www.grouphunt.sg/posts/DMDbAuNDPddcDhsdn/keysmart-organizer
Favourite pen. I have many... too many... but the one I am using now is Karas Kustoms INK.
Coooooll... 5 years wow respekt. =D
How has the journey been so far? High points / low points?
Journey has been great so far - I met a lot of likeminded people and through conversation with them, I have learnt a lot from them.
High point: I have met some business owners, who shared how they started their business and taught me many important pointers when dealing with business.
Low point: I had many times where I wanted to give up, but I kept reminding myself that I am providing a service through Blank and Write; and as Blank and Write's motto says, "Everyone Deserves a Notebook.
Journaling is the best way for me to forget my worries / sadness - Many times when I journal, I found solutions within what I wrote - It's like God speaking to me.
Work within your Means. When we started a business, we have many ideas - some work, and some don't. And most of the ideas need fundings / time / commitments. Dont over work as it might kill the passion - which in turn, lost the drive behind the whole set up. Dont spend too much as you might need the funds for other overheads. Dont forget that family is still the most important thing in Life. And, always do the Right Things.
Hey Justin! Great to see you here, thanks for doing this!
EDC = Every Day Carry. For me, EDC is my notebook, pen, keys, wallet. I guess everyone has favourite items they carry on a daily basis, but not too many (local) people are willing to share what they carry - privacy perhaps. It is more popular in overseas like the States, UK but I can see that Singapore is slowly picking up the trend. I have find many great products from the EDC movement. I will usually look at what others are carrying, and I will make my own research - does it suits me? is it affordable? how can this product helps me? If I find the product helpful, I will go-all-out to find it and get it.
Field Notes measure 3.5" x 5.5" and it fits into the pocket nicely. I have troubled getting pocket notebooks locally - they are either too big, too small, or lousy paper quality. Nothing beats Field Notes size. Field Notes offers good paper and it is compact. It can withstands toughness, or rough handling. What Field Notes do right is that they produce a new edition for every season, and its only limited production.
Original 3-Pack Graph paper is by far my favourite edition - it's simple and neat - and graph paper is suitable for me, who has a small handwriting.
I trust the quality of Field Notes. And using Field Notes is a culture. If you want to get a simple notebook, you can go to any bookstore; If you want to get a quality notebook, you should get Field Notes.
My EDC = KeySmart, Field Notes, Pen (http://karaskustoms.com/pens/ink-rollerball.html), Wallet (http://recycledfirefighter.com/products/the-tarp-sergeant-slim-wallet).
For EDC beginner, I will recommend to get YOUR OWN PEN. It always feel good to write with your own pen. And don't just get a cheap pen coz someone might be using the same pen as yours; get one that NO ONE ELSE IS USING.
This question burns my wallet ;-D I am planning to get a pocket photo printer, so that I can print out photos and stick them to my Midori Traveler's Notebook.
Hey Justin - thanks for the answers! Super insightful. Couple of follow up discussions from a fellow guy interested in EDC lol. Probably makes for a good Thursday night banter anyway.
How would you sum up the EDC movement though? Is it a movement? What's the zeitgeist of it?
I'm also keen to know what makes people get into EDC. I can't really explain it myself, but I obsess over the things I use daily. Firstly, of course because I use them so often, I want to enjoy using them. But I think if I were to sum it up I would say that I constantly want to up my EDC game because I feel that it helps me perform my tasks better - be it writing, thinking, or taking meetings, or traveling. What about you? Why "go-all-out to find it?" ;)
Do you have a picture of your EDC? Would love to see it.
Does the Field Notes have bleed through? How does it compare to say Tomoe River?
What do you look for in an everyday pen?
What pocket photo printer are you looking at? Have you heard of the Polaroid Zip (https://www.grouphunt.sg/posts/gWfB5kcGbx9dws7Ns/polaroid-zip-instant-printer)?
EDC in Singapore is picking up - and I am glad GroupHunt has started the local EDC group!! We need more users to share what their EDC, and we can learn from each other. We should call EDC a culture rather than a movement and it should be on-going.
Some items are not readily available in Singapore - for example the RecycledFireFighter wallet that I'm using. I am constantly looking for new idea to help me better off my life and time, and there's so much good review about one product, I will have to find it and try out myself.
Search for me on my Instagram - GoldfishTartarus. And I have one picture of my EDC here:
Some Field Notes edition does bleed through, but the latest edition has better quality paper.
My EDC pen must withstand falling - i kept dropping my pen.
I am looking at Fuji Instax, but am still deciding which one to get.
hi justin i recently joined the hobonichi 2016 planner grouphunt. i am new to the world of fountain pens and notebooks. do you have any review about it? i heard many good things, although if non-positive reviews maybe too late ^_^
I had almost bought the Hobonichi 2016 too, but it does't suit me... I will tell you why later.
Hobonichi has many good reviews!! It's Tomoe River paper means you can write with any fountain pens, and no worries about bleeding through. A friend of mine from the States draw and paint in his Hobonichi - no worries about damaging the paper. There's sufficient for the user to write - plans / journal / ideas / etc. It is one of the best planner ever.
But why am I not getting it? I prefer something small and handy. Something that I can keep in my side pocket / back pocket. Something compact. Hobo is too thick for me. I can still fit it into my side pocket, but it will be obstructing me when I move / work. This is the only factor that makes me not getting the Hobo.
Hi Justin! Here are my questions:
MASSIVE FIRE????? Choi..... haha... I will save my Midori Traveler's Notebook if I can save one from my collection.
My lowest point in life is when I worked Banking industry. My everyday's worry is about meeting sales target - it doesn't matter how bad my service is, as long as I can meet the sales target, my day is saved. Good thing is that my manager (back in the bank) has been a great mentor and advisor. She has always backed me up and protected me from the scoldings from the Management. From her, I learn how to be more caring for people (emotionally). Though tough, that environment had made me a better employee today; I have learnt to appreciate the Good and Bad in human.
I have always wanted a Blank and Write notebooks that is fountain pen friendly. I heard about Tomoe River paper, and fountain pen users love it. So I decided to produce a Blank and Write notebook that is made with Tomoe River paper. It took me a long time to search for a maker for it, and after some emails, I have them made-pack-and-sent to me. Yes, Blank and Write notebook is made with Tomoe River paper.
Many users like to see what others are using, and prefer not to share what they have. I feel that Sharing is the best way to learn.
Backpack??? Personally, I am using a 5.11 Rush 24 (http://www.511tactical.com/rush-24-backpack.html). It's a military grade backpack which provide wide storage. It is expensive, but this one backpack and save you $$ from getting other "not-so-good" backpack :D
Hi Justin, read some of your posts about Midori Traveler's Notebooks. Can you tell me what's so special about these notebook systems?
I have been using this Midori Traveler's Notebook (MTN) since 2008, and I am still using the same covers from Day-1. Let's start from the leather cover - the longer I use, the more scratches it got on the cover, the more appealing it appears. I had people offering me high price to buy over my leather cover - but I am not selling. The notebook(s) - I have a wide selections of notebooks to choose from - graph, plain, lined, 64 pages, 128 pages, calendar, etc - and I can change out the notebooks once I've finished using it. I used to carry 3 notebooks in my leather cover - for (1) work, (2) calendar and (3) personal journal. Accessories - I have a zipper file inside my MTN since Day-1 and I am still using it. I'm using it to store instax photos, small notes, name cards, sometimes even money.
Basically, it is personal, and it's 1-system, multiple uses. And I can say, no 2 Midori Traveler's Notebook is the same.
Wow sounds like a good investment - maybe I should buy a couple of covers and then scratch them up! LOL Kidding!
Just to add on to this though - I was considering adopting a Midori myself, after being seriously poisoned by Justin, his notebook, and some of his friends who are part of the MTN Singapore FB group. If I may offer my humble opinion, one of the strongest points I think the Midori has going on for it is the concept of critical mass. The more users there are of this system, the greater the number of makers, crafters, and suppliers building upon and for this system, and therefore the more options for end-users. Coming from a software perspective, I found it extremely interesting that the concept of platform adoption could be applied on a physical object. Yet it makes so much sense.
Justin is completely right that the simplicity yet openess of the Midori platform is what makes it really cool. Plus the community that is now built upon it. I think a quick hashtag search on instagram will show you the many options available, and the many creative users the community has. =)
Yes, the Traveler's Notebook concept is very personal. One can take references from other users. But at the end of the day, you will have your own creation.
I stopped using my Midori Traveler's Notebook for a few months until recently. At first, I have no idea what to write inside. And I decided to document my "life" in it. If I find any interesting article, I will copy the important notes into my MTN. When a friend sent me something from overseas, I will paste the hand written notes in my MTN. As I get older, such notes will become important memories.
For you are a notebook person, you should get yourself a Midori Traveler's Notebook. One day, you will appreciate the things you have document in your MTN.