In terms of brands, Waters says you can’t go wrong with Faber-Castell, though she’s also a fan of Cretacolor pencils. “I like the lead quality,” she says of the latter, because “it doesn’t break as easily as some of the others.” While most people don’t walk into Soho Art Materials with a specific pencil brand in mind, she says that most customers end up purchasing either Cretacolor or Derwent pencils.
Sam Lee, who works at Apple Art Supplies (near Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn campus), also suggests going with a Derwent pencil, if you can afford it; “they’re a little pricey, but they’re quality,” he says.
If money is no object, what’s the best pencil out there—or, rather, what’s the Cadillac of pencils? Waters points to Faber-Castell’s “Perfect Pencil.” It has a built-in eraser and sharpener, and comes with a lid.
Lee, who has a draftsmanship hobby, directs us to a display case of shiny mechanical pencils. “I usually use the Alvin Draft-Matic,” he says, noting that he prefers the grip. “I like to hold something really heavy, and it’s very smooth.”