interview with Birgit Kerscher-Preis
“What is the role of pens in your life and how do they affect it”
Series of interviews with pen personalities all over the world and across social media.
By Letizia Iacopini
SCARICA LA VERSIONE IN ITALIANO .pdf
Interview with Birgit Kerscher-Preis
Birgit is one of the most active personalities in the world of fountain pens on Instagram. Although Birgit does not carry out a professional activity on social media and approaches the world of fountain pens only as a hobby, her posts are followed by thousands of followers, and express a great passion for writing, paper, pens and inks.
Mother of two, Birgit works as a financial manager in the global automotive industry and dedicates her free time to fountain pens and writing short stories.
When did your relationship with the fountain pen begin?
In Germany, calligraphy is taught in primary school and all children must pass some sort of exam before they can use a fountain pen to do their homework and write their tests. Until then, pencils are used to draw letters and become familiar with writing.
I took my writing exam with a fountain pen when I was 7 and have never abandoned it since.
The house where I was born was near a printing house. I grew up with the smell of ink and paper in my nose. Whenever I could, I stopped by the printer’s workshop and received scraps of paper as a gift. I then went home loaded with scraps of colored and white paper of all types that I could use as I wanted. The scent of ink and the smells of the presses accompanied me throughout the day.
I used the fountain pen to write, draw and scribble and I was fascinated by the magic of the nib on paper.
I had an almost infinite reserve of papers; I often exchanged pens with a friend to see which one wrote better in kind of quest to find the perfect pen.
In Nuremberg, the city where I was born, Elyseé had its headquarters.That pen company was particularly active in my teenage years. A friend of my mother’s worked in the company and one day she gave me a bag of writing units as a gift. In that bag there were dozens and dozens of second-choice writing units or those that had been used as samples, with which I could have endless fun, mounting them on the Elyseé pens I had. That was another step in my journey in search of the perfect nib and then the perfect pen...
What is the aspect of the fountain pen that fascinates you most?
The fountain pen is an object that I love and have always loved. It is part of my life like the oxygen I breathe.
I have always used the fountain pen for my exams, for taking notes, for writing in the diary, for writing my stories. For me the fountain pen has a therapeutic power. It soothes me down and relaxes me. The pleasure of the nib sliding on the paper and drawing lines, the light rustle, the smell of the ink and its color have a relaxing effect on me.
When I come home from work, I always try to carve out some time to dedicate myself to writing; I need it to free myself from the stress and tension of the day.
Do you prefer vintage pens or modern pens?
With modern pens the relationship is simpler. In addition to being the tool that allows the pleasure of writing, the fountain pen is also a technological tool and I like to dismantle the pens I have, to understand how they are made and how they work. I have disassembled and reassembled many of my pens several times. With vintage pens this is more difficult, because I don't know them enough and they intimidate me as I am not able to manage the problems and I have to refer to other people to have them restored, which is not always easy.
In my quest for the perfect pen or the perfect nib, I have had periods of passion for various brands, ranging from Japanese to Italian pens.
Generally, when my interests change, I don't sell any of the pens I've used. The few times I did it, it was only to buy some other pens, perhaps a little more financially demanding.
How did you start your activity on Instagram?
It all started with a pen I bought a few years ago. The seller asked me to review the pen on Instagram and I did. I received many positive comments, and I realized that it was possible to communicate with people who had the same interests as me through social media. Instagram has put me in contact with various kinds of people, some very far from me and with a different approach to mine, others very similar. Friendships and stable communication relationships were born, of which I am very happy.
What role does the fountain pen play in your life?
For me the fountain pen is not just a writing instrument. It's a sort of litmus test of my state of mind and my mental condition. When I feel my interest in pens waning, I know it's time to take a break. Sometimes I have to stop and recharge my batteries and at that point pens help me a lot. It is my way of recovering a space that belongs to me alone and in which I can rediscover aspects of myself that are otherwise submerged by the rhythm of everyday life.
Now at home I have organized a space all for myself, dedicated to pens. I like having a place, a sort of happy island, where I can dive into my passions, writing short stories, writing poems and playing with pens…
What would you recommend to those who are starting to approach the fountain pen?
For me the most interesting part of this world is not just the pens, but the sociality that is connected to them. Even on social media, which are apparently just virtual environments, powerful interactions develop between people who have a similar mentality.
In 2022 I attended a pen show for the first time and I believe this is a fundamental experience. It's a bit like entering a river in flood and letting yourself be carried away by the current.
Well, I really think I would recommend this to anyone approaching the world of fountain pens: taking part in pen meets, attending pen shows, spending time with people who have the same interest. Exchange opinions, make comparisons of nibs and inks, experience the pen as a hobby of socialization and communication and not just as an intimate or speculative dimension.