Monday, 22 October 2012

Biro, Bic Or Ballpoint?

What name do you use? Biro was Hungarian, Bic comes from the Frenchman M. Bich, and Ballpoint simply describes the mechanism. I usually say ‘Biro’. When I was at school we were not allowed to use them! It had to be a pencil or a fountain pen. We were told that HM the Queen was not allowed to use Biros in case the ink faded. Biros were ‘common, lazy tools’ but look at this…

james mylne hepburn

My teachers cannot have imagined the brilliant artworks which have been produced by James Mylne using just a ballpoint.

He sometimes spraypaints a colour background first, but the main image is just that one pen!


Check out this amazing story and see more of his artwork on the BBC Website [here] or look at the Hepburn drawing on the Rook and Raven website [here]

james mylne hepburn #2

Biro is also, coincidentally, the Hungarian word for ‘judge’ – so what do you think, looking at these pictures – is a ballpoint really ‘common and lazy’? YOU be the biro!


  1. That artwork is absolutely incredible! To be able to get such contrast just using a biro! Thank you for pointing usto it, Angela.

    Incidentally, we were never allowed to use biros in secondary school. Apparently it made one "lazy" (not quite sure how!) - but for years after I loved using fountain pens. I now rarely use them however...but since then I have preferred roller ball pens to biros. I wonder if that is the influence of school!

  2. Those pictures make my on-the-phone-doodled look downright pathetic lol
    I'm my house they are a Biro but DD calls everything just Pen and slowly but surely I'm saying it to.

  3. Give me a bic blue biro everytime.

  4. I use a rollerball.I find my hands do not like biros as I have to use too much pressure.Only fountain pens at school,and only blue or blue black ink allowed. In the RN only Admirals were ever allowed to use green ink..and they did.Odd.
    Jane x

  5. I always say 'biro' - never knew I could speak Hungarian! ;)

    Wish I could get those effects with mine, rather than the very scrappy handwriting I usually produce...

  6. Ici on parle du Bic, de preference en noir. But personally I use a fountain pen with green ink- houlala! Amazed at these drawings.

  7. How does he do it?!? What awe-inspiring work.

    My family just calls them "pens" or on rare occasions "ballpoint pens" (when differentiating from felt-tip pens, or gel pens, or fountain pens). To us, Bic is a specific brand name.


  8. Woooooooooo, that's amazing! I always call them Biro!

  9. I spent years fighting with fountain pens at school. I always ended up with ink blots on my work and leaks in my pencil case. We use liquid ink pens now; neat writing and no mess!


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