It’s no secret how loved Copic markers are by artists, or that they originated in Japan. But did you know that the name ‘Copic’ comes from their ties to copy machines?
In celebration of Copic’s 30th anniversary, a creative team in partnership with Imagination International Incorporated (iii), the exclusive North American distributer for Copic markers, has put together a particularly interesting blog post. Featured is art made for the celebration by two Japanese artists: Mr. Kubonouchi and Mr. Fukuda. There are also pretty lengthy interviews with each of them, linked in their names to the left.
Without further ado, here are some of the highlights.
Copics were originally called Speedry Markers
Back in the day, graphic designers needed to color printed copies for their work. Izumiya, a Japanese company, partnered with Magic Marker Corporation to make Speedry in 1969. The concept was to sell the 150 colors alongside Izumiya’s copier machine distribution. However, the ink of the printed images would smudge when drawn over with markers.
Interestingly, Mr. Fukuda describes in his interview what it was like to use those first Speedry markers. Prior to that, he had used poster paint, which was a limited and timely product.
Flash forward to 1987, and Izumiya released the first 71 Copic markers. Now known as the Classic model, they aimed to fix one problem: smudgy toner. Hence their name: Copic markers to use with copiers.
Mr. Fukuda commented that Copic “improved efficiency of [his] work dramatically since it has an organized color number system and fast-drying ink”. Mr. Kubonouchi, who also had used ‘troublesome’ paint to color with, found that the brush nib and variety of colors helped him in creating his art. [Side note: Mr. Kubonouchi’s interview is in Japanese, so for better or worse I’m relying on Google Translate for his ‘quote’.]
Colors were added for expanding markets
Two years after their inception, the color number was doubled when 71 more colors were added to “serve a particular need of architectural design and figure painting.” Only three years after that, another 72 colors were made. This time, it was to cater to the markers’ use in fashion and environmental design.
After Izumiya became the .Too Corporation, the famous Sketch model was released in 1993. Over the the next few years, mulitliners and the airbrush system were created to accompany the marker line. Ciaos were introduced as well, providing a slightly cheaper option for beginners.
Copics have only continued to grow in popularity since. Beyond professional concept designers, the early 2000’s saw many colors added to match the needs of manga artists. The markers also found an audience overseas, and new colors were created for artists in the United States.
The last new marker colors were created in 2012, “to meet the needs of craft market in the US.” Multiliners continue to evolve, with “elegant pink” and lavender having been added to the lineup in 2014 and 2016, respectively. While not included on the official timeline, 2014 was also when the limited edition 25th anniversary marker sets were released.
iii provides free resources for using Copics
Like the 30th anniversary post, iii puts out a lot of marker-oriented content. One of my favorite things about their website is the iii-Academy, an original manga made with Copics about Copics. Through fun lessons, mangakas Alisa Caves and Chihiro Howe’s comic teaches about using the markers, their accessories, and drawing in general. The characters are fun and the stories comical. You should check it out here!
There are other tutorials as well, often from guest artists. Covering graphic design to weather rendering, the lessons can be quite inspiring and educational. Of course, if you’re looking for tutorial books or DVDs, iii sells those in their store. (I’ve never read or seen them, so I can’t recommend them. Personally, I think you could find the same information for free from online artists, but if you don’t mind the price having those resources could be helpful.)
Happy anniversary Copics!