Several years passed since i first heard of Eno Shop. 4 years ago,I first bought something from his store. I was lucky and passed all the weird Chinese pages on Taobao before i was eventually able to enter my credit cards information and order. the funny part is that you have to download a special chat app in order to talk with the shops owners using the website, so they can help you buy their stuff. at this moment i was really happy about getting so many parts for this cheap. I had bought fake Miffy, a bunch of CT caps and maybe some discontinued parts as well, I don’t remember all the details of the order. Now we are in mid 2019, and I still buy some copy parts.but I never really got to write about what i think of it .Mostly because I had a hard time figuring out what i really think of it, since it is for me a complex topic. I was very unsure of my own opinion.
I have been studying in a French High National Art School for 6 years now, and my major is objects design.
on June the 19th I’ll take my last assessment before graduating, and I’ll become a product designer. Thus, the act of copying products is something that affects me a lot. If I were to spend years to design, think and produce an object, knowing that some people would steal the concept, and make it theirs by only slightly changing some of its aspects would disappoint me. By avoiding to buy copied pen parts as much as I could, I was in a way doing my part in the fight against this practice.
But from the invention of penspinning to nowadays, we have been dependant on the big pens brands economy: Miffy and Melanies, white Watercolors, neon HGGs, Needlepoints and so on : all of these pens have been discontinued ,even if we are still using them in our work. But we are to few customers to have any weight in a potential decision of resuming the production of those pens, let alone to directly as the brands to resume the production. On one hand, creating substitutes to those pens is one of the interesting point of copying parts. on the other, having copies circulating on the market kind of lower the value of the legit discontinued parts. but i guess this should only bother pen collectors. In both case, it helps the penspinning community to be less dependant of Pens brands, and allows a huge part of us to have access to physical penspinning material. At this point, using only original parts could be considered as elitism.
Having this in mind, what we can ask ourselves is to what extent can using copies have influence on the final work? what makes using a fake Dr grip tip less interesting than using an original part? is it only because it is not the work of the original designer? or is it rather a question of quality?
Well, we all know that for penmodding, quality matters a lot: it affects the parts texture, the extent to which the grip can be stretched, the sturdiness of a barrel, the durability of the final product… We care a lot about those aspects , and we are not afraid to throw ourselves in arguments with people who sell fake parts to defend those aspects. But why does this continue to be such an heathen topic? Why aren’t we happy with getting new products designed for our community and at a lesser cost ?
Inequality is everywhere. I understood this when i started to be active on the international penspinning community on Facebook, and saw that the community counted many spinners who are non independent financially, or who are living in countries with lower standard of living. It does not cost anything to get into penspinning, but penmods are not free. Only a handfull of penspinners can afford fully legit mods. the rest of the community who can not spend this much on the hobby have to buy like one mod a year, unless they resort to buy copied parts. This is the most interesting aspect of copies: being cheaper than the original products, they allow more people to have access to penspinning “physical content”. having an easier access to them means more spinners, more modders, an overall growth of the community.
I’snt it wonderful? anyway, it’s enough to make us wonder how people could have considered that penspinning was dying, showing that the demand for parts is growing. Which underlines that penspinnings main problem is not the lack of popularity of the hobby, but rather the way we manage the communities through social networks. but this is another debate.
So back to the topic. The real problem with copies is the lack of informations regarding the motivations of the companies which produces them. Besides business, do they aim to make our life as penspinners better, by for instance producing copies of excellent quality (as good as the original parts ) at a cheaper cost or even the same price? If yes, it would be a major improvement. Because, lets be honest, the negative point of view we have on copies is a direct consequence of their poor quality. but how can we improve the quality of those parts? what does it take to make a good quality part, like the original ones? probably good quality raw material (plastic , diyes … ), which is indeed, more expensive. And this is why we need to know the goal of those companies owners. if the problem is really the cost of raw material, then buying copies of lower quality in order to finance their future improvement is a way to get rid of it. Look at Eno’s DGG. a V2 of better facture has been put on the market since two years ago. however it is hard to know whether this improvement on a product is an isolated phenomenon, or if it it is going to be generalized to all of Eno’s products since there is a lack of communication and transparency from him and all the other copies producers.
But how can we interact with them in order to explain our needs and share our feedbacks, to allow them to make products really suited to our hobby? Clearly, i am clueless about how all of this works in China, but the fact is that the communication between the community as a whole and the owners of those compagnies is almost non existent. And as much as i understand that communication with China is really hard, mostly because of the government restrictions regarding access to internet, i still think that we should use all the means at our disposition to stay in touch, in order to consolidate our world.
At the end of the day, why should we trust the pen industry ( which does not care in the slightest about us and makes it impossible to access to some pens) more than Eno, who (theoretically ) offers to everyone the possibility to get any part, by making copies of them?
To go further, lets imagine that we were enabled to create virtually any part, having control on the density of the material used, the shape of the part, and of course it texture, and to make it accessible to everyone. Imagine a barrel with Giotto diameter, but with Stalogy’s grippiness, or a 10 cm long Sailor grip that we could cut at any wanted length. The list could go on, but my point is to show that in cooperation with copies producers, we could create stuff and have direct influence on its plastic characteristics, which is not currently possible since we rely on the global pen market which does not share our views on the products. An example of those brand new parts designed for ps is the newest Eno barrel, a Supertip shaped body with grippy texture.
Taking this into account, what is the point in being elitist anymore? We are given an awesome opportunity, the power to create our own devices, our own world, our own “cultural heritage” and to become independent, while fulfilling our spinners and modders need. Isn’t it in our interest to seize this opportunity by supporting the copies makers, rather than staying narrow minded, continuing to use original parts from discontinued pens?
Ps : thank you Gunter for the checking translation 🙂