It’s hard to imagine crafts, school projects, or Christmas gift labels without Sharpies. These colorful permanent markers have been fan favorites for years, so who was the genius that made them? When did our Sharpie love officially start?
Let’s dive into the history of Sharpie pens! You’ll learn more about ink, sports sponsors, and how two U.S. presidents fit into the story.
History of Sharpies Timeline
The Sharpie has a permanent place in our hearts. This timeline shows where these permanent markers started and how they became bestsellers in America!
Charlie Lofgren, the President of Sanford Ink Company, loved the idea of the Magic Marker, but wasn’t a fan of the design. He spoke with V.P. Francis Gilbert, and the two worked together to improve on the felt tip markers, using aluminum instead of glass and offering 3 different sizes.
Sanford Ink Company introduced the Sharpie Fine Point black marker to the public. Johnny Carson was reportedly a huge fan and talked about Sharpies on his late show. This gave the brand a boost and made the marker pens an instant hit.
The Sharpie Fine Point marker was sold at retail stores. It came in four colors – black, red, blue, and green. This was the first time colored Sharpies were available to the public!
Sanford released the Sharpie Ultra Fine Point. These marker pens have a slim barrel, metal pocket clip, and precise, needle-point tip. Today, they’re one of the best types of Sharpies for writing.
Newell Brands bought the Sanford Ink Company, and this switch in ownership brought Sharpie pens to a whole new level. One of the first actions was to partner with professional sports teams, and just like that, Sharpies became part of the $5 billion team memorabilia industry.
1990s – 2000shttps://www.bjs.com/product/arizona-arnold-palmer-half-and-half-iced-tea-and-lemonade-mix-73-oz/3000000000002295753
Sharpie started sponsoring PGA golfers. Arnold Palmer used a Sharpie to sign autographs, and now his signature is one of the most famous of all time. It decorates every can and bottle of his famous lemonade iced tea!
Terrell Owens, a wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, pulled a Sharpie out of his sock to sign a football after scoring a touchdown. This is known by sports fans as “The Sharpie Touchdown.”
2002 – 2009https://heraldcourier.com/sports/nascar-points-leader-selling-tickets-at-bms/article_1f518036-556d-5328-82c9-04bd149b2056.html
Sharpie sponsored the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. One of the races at Bristol Motor Speedway was even named “The Sharpie 500”! Newell Brands was forced to hit the brakes on this partnership in 2009.
2003 – 2006https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/2005-kurt-busch-97-sharpie-autographs-495259041
It’s important to give back. Sharpie did their part with a national education campaign called “Autographs for Education.” In exchange for collecting 1 million autographs from celebrities and pro athletes, Sharpie donated $1 million in supplies to schools across the United States.
The Mini Sharpie made its debut. These markers are roughly half the size of a regular Sharpie and can be clipped to a lanyard, keychain, or backpack. Sharpie also acquired Accent highlighters this same year.
Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating storms in U.S. history. Jillian Gross and her team at Habitat for Humanity built 51 homes in one week to help people in New Orleans. After the project was complete, Gross donated her toolbelt, which included this Sharpie marker, to the Smithsonian Institution.
Sharpie released retractable pens, which came with a clicker on top rather than a cap. These Sharpie pens are great for autographs, sign making, and drawing by hand.
Sharpie’s advertising got even stronger with the new “Write Out Loud” slogan. This catchy tagline was used in TV commercials that showed Sharpies making tough situations a little bit better.
President George Bush wanted personalized Sharpies for The White House. He reportedly gave these Sharpie pens out as gifts to his family and presidential team.
This one-of-a-kind “Mishimoto Sharpie” Nissan was part of the SEMA Auto Show. It was not only decked out in a Sharpie print, but also modified with a racing clutch and other cool features.
The Sharpie became the official writing utensil for astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Why? These permanent markers work in zero-gravity and can be used upside-down!
“It All Started with a Sharpie” was a series created by students at the Miami Ad School. The campaign showed crumpled pieces of paper with rough first drafts of famous logos. Critiques of the logos are on the paper written in black Sharpie.
Newell Brands wanted to reach a younger demographic, releasing a commercial about “50 Ways to Get a Prom Date.” Each way had something to do with a Sharpie. This campaign became known as “You Can Do Anything With a Sharpie.”
Timothy Goodman published his book, “Sharpie Art Workshop: Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World.” He’s an illustrator and muralist who creates Sharpie art for big name clients like Google, Samsung, Target, Airbnb, and Netflix.
Newell Brands wasn’t happy with how Office Depot was promoting Sharpies so they stopped shipping the pens to the retail store. According to The Wall Street Journal, this hasty decision led to a 10% decline in Sharpie sales.
Sharpie just couldn’t get away from professional sports! The brand released limited edition markers in partnership with The Players’ Tribune, a medic company started by Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees.
#SharpieGate was a trending hashtag on social media. A Sharpie was used to create a permanent line on a map that tracked Hurricane Dorian’s path through the United States. The controversy was that Alabama was included, even though it wasn’t one of the projected states to be affected by the storm.
President Donald Trump was running for reelection in the United States. His campaign team offered custom Sharpie markers that were autographed by Trump for $15 each in an online store. The campaign manager tweeted that this marker “has the special ability to drive @CNN and the rest of the fake news crazy!”
What is a Sharpie?
A Sharpie is a felt tip marker pen made by Newell Brands. The markers come in 49 colors, have thin or thick tips, and write in regular, neon, or metallic ink.
When Was the Sharpie Invented?
The Sharpie was invented by the Sanford Ink Company in 1964. Charlie Lofgren, who was the president of Sanford at the time, wanted to compete with the Magic Marker.
When Sanford first opened in 1873, they were best-known for their line of paste and tempera paints, which were popular in elementary school classrooms. Lofgren was ready for something new, so recruited his V.P. Frank Gilbert to help turn the Sharpie into a reality.
Gilbert and his team of chemists worked around the clock, making changes until the Sharpies were just right. They were able to improve permanent markers by using aluminum barrels instead of glass and creating ink that wouldn’t smear on the paper.
All of this effort was worth it! Black Sharpies, which came in 3 sizes, were an instant hit at retail stores around the United States. In fact, Johnny Carson loved these markers so much he talked about them on “The Tonight Show!”
Why Are Sharpies Called Sharpies?
No one is exactly sure why Sharpies are called “Sharpies.” The most likely story is that the name was inspired by fountain pens, which were also sold by the Sanford Ink Company at the time.
When Did Sharpies Become Popular?
The Sharpie became popular in the 1990s. Newell Brands took over the brand and immediately paired the markers with professional sports for autograph signing. This move helped catapult the permanent markers to stardom!
The 90s and 2000s were key decades in Sharpie history. Here are some defining moments!
Sharpie sponsored PGA golfers Arnold Palmer, Chad Campbell, David Toms, and Gary Player.
The first “Sharpie 500” race was hosted by NASCAR.
Schools became interested in Sharpie thanks to the “Autographs for Education” campaign, which collected autographs from pro athletes and other celebrities.
Terrell Owens of the San Francisco 49’ers showboated by signing a football with a Sharpie after a touchdown.
All this effort paid off in the end. 150 million Sharpies sold every single year from 1990 to 1996, and the marker pens became extremely well-loved by young sports fans. Today, Sharpie’s target customer is anyone in the 13 to 24 age group.
What Are the Different Types of Sharpies?
You’ll find many different types of Sharpies! These permanent markers come in 49 colors and feature 12 tips ranging from bold to ultra-fine.
Do you need Sharpies? Here are the different types that you can choose from:
- Sharpie Fine Point
- Sharpie Extra Fine Point
- Sharpie Ultra Fine Point
- Sharpie Bold Point
- Sharpie Extra Bold Point
- Sharpie Chisel Tip
- Sharpie XL Chisel Tip
- Sharpie Medium Point
- Sharpie Twin Tip
- Sharpie Fabric Markers
- Sharpie Paint Pens
- Sharpie Chalk Markers
- Mini Sharpies
- Custom Sharpies
Black Sharpies are the most common, but you can get Sharpies in many other colors with fun names like “leg warmer orange” and “celestial gray.” There are even neon, glitter, and metallic Sharpies. It’s a colorful world thanks to this popular brand!
Did You Know?
You can buy 1 Sharpie at a time or get up to 115 Sharpies in a pack.
Do They Sell White Sharpies?
Good news – Sharpie Paint Markers and Chalk Markers come in white! Pick up these white Sharpies in a pack, or buy them individually at stores like Hobby Lobby or Target.
What Surfaces Can Sharpies Write On?
A Sharpie can be used to write or draw on pretty much anything! The surface you’re writing on should be plain and smooth for the best results.
Sharpies work on the following materials:
Sharpies also work on rocks and seashells, which is a great way to create beautiful décor for weddings, parties, and backyard barbecues!
What Can Sharpies Be Used For?
Sharpie ink is permanent, which is why these marker pens are great for arts & crafts projects. Since the ink is thick, it also shows up clearly on signs and labels.
Use Sharpies for all of the following:
You can use Sharpies for a ton of arts and crafts projects including: scrapbooks, coasters, wall art, keychains, bookmarks, flower pots, pillowcases, sun catchers, and anything else you can imagine! These markers also come in handy for school projects.
Pencils are great, but it’s not always easy to see what you’re drawing. Create bold lines by using a Sharpie instead. This is also a great way to bring color to your masterpieces!
Are you having a garage sale? Write “Yard Sale” in large print on a piece of white paper using a black Sharpie. Sharpie markers can also be used to make DIY signs for protests, fundraisers, and parties.
It’s not like you meet famous celebrities, athletes, or authors every day! Go to a “Meet & Greet” with a Sharpie, so you can get a signed photo, ball, poster, jersey, or book.
Moving day can be a nightmare! Your life will be way easier with Sharpie pens. Label your boxes so you know what’s inside. Sharpies can also be used to label gifts, name tags, and measurements for construction projects.
The envelopes that come with greeting cards look so boring! Make them more exciting by decorating with Sharpie markers. You can also use Sharpies to add flair to plain hardcover notebooks.
Your presents will be at the top of the pile if you decorate the boxes or gift bags with Sharpies. With a cool design, you won’t even need the bow on top!
Use a stencil to make a design on chairs, tables, wallpaper, vases, lamps, and candles. You can switch up the colored Sharpies that you use, creating a new look for every room in your house!
Spruce up wine glasses, ceramic mugs, and dinner plates with a Sharpie. If you’re using paper cups at a party, you can also use Sharpies to make them look more interesting.
Phone & Tablet Cases
We are all attached to technology. Bring some personality to your device by decorating your phone or tablet case with Sharpies.
Use your favorite Sharpies to bring a new look to your gym shoes. You can use stencils to create an intricate pattern, or go nuts and do everything freehand!
Is it time for a new wardrobe? A Sharpie can be used to make DIY necklaces, wallets, bracelets, belts, and more. Decorate tote bags with a Sharpie to save on bridesmaid bags for your wedding!
Tie Dye Shirts
Create cool tie dye shirts with Sharpies! Simply draw all over a t-shirt or tank top with the markers and then use an eye dropper to drip rubbing alcohol on top of the ink. It will naturally swirl together, creating a psychedelic pattern! Seal it with an iron after the shirt is completely dry.
Holiday & Party Decorations
You can decorate a ton of holiday décor using Sharpies. These markers are great for ornaments, Easter eggs, and jack o’ lanterns. Are you hosting a birthday party? Use Sharpies to decorate balloons, streamers, and banners.
Sharpies can bring a new look to your home, wardrobe, and office. They can also be used to make personalized gifts and to help you save you money on party decorations. Be creative and have fun!
Did You Know?
Are you decorating for Halloween? You can download free pumpkin stencils and trace inside of them using Sharpies!
What is Sharpie Ink Made Out Of?
Sharpies are made from plastic. The oil-based ink has many ingredients including dyes, xylene, toluene, and 3 types of alcohol: propyl, butyl, and diacetone.
Millions of Sharpies are made every day. Here’s how each pen is created, step by step:
The Sharpie’s barrel is molded out of plastic resin on an assembly line.
Screen printing is used to add the “Sharpie” name and any other customization to the barrel.
A needle injects a pre-mixed ink into the barrel. At the same time, a mechanical arm adds the tip onto the end. Sharpies can be made with 12 different tips, but the most common are fine point or chisel.
The Sharpie’s cap is made from the same plastic resin as the barrels.
The Sharpies are packaged and ready to go!
Sharpie permanent markers are, for the most part, made in the USA. The main factory is in Maryville, Tennessee, though they do also make these permanent markers in Mexico.
How to Store Sharpie Markers
You should store Sharpies, markers, and highlighters upside down to prevent the ink from drying out. It’s also a good idea to keep your Sharpie pens away from windows as the sun could affect the ink.
How Long Do Sharpies Last?
According to Sharpie’s website, there isn’t an exact science to how long their markers last. It really depends on how often they’re used and how well you take care of them.
Did You Know?
You can revive a dried out Sharpie by dipping the tip in rubbing alcohol. Let it sit until you see the ink running, cap the marker, and wait 15 minutes before using.
How Do You Remove Dried Sharpie?
Did you get Sharpie all over your favorite t-shirt or chair? It’s super easy to remove that stain! You just need the right supplies.
Try any of the following to remove dried Sharpie from your walls, furniture, or clothing:
Use a Q-tip to put rubbing alcohol on the Sharpie stain. This method is recommended for removing permanent marker from carpet or if you get it on your skin.
Did you get Sharpie on your sweatshirt? Try spraying the area with aerosol hairspray. Let the hairspray sit for five minutes and then blot dry with a paper towel.
Let’s say you got Sharpie on your cell phone or tablet. Remove the stain by rubbing it with a pencil eraser.
Hand sanitizer is a great way to keep germs at bay, but you can also use it to remove Sharpie marker from the wall. Test a small amount first so you don’t damage the paint.
Another good way to get Sharpie off your walls is with toothpaste. Give it five minutes to sit and then scrub clean with an old toothbrush. Your walls will smell minty fresh!
If you get Sharpie all over your hands, try using antibacterial wipes to rub them clean. You can also use wet wipes if someone draws on your face with Sharpie at a sleepover!
It can be super stressful to get Sharpie on your furniture. Get it clean by using a clean cloth and white vinegar. Repeat scrubbing the area until the mark is gone.
Don’t use all your baking soda to make a cake! This pantry item can be used to remove Sharpie from your clothes or furniture.
You love peanut butter on your sandwiches, but you can also use this creamy food to remove Sharpie from wood. The fat will dissolve the ink, so leave the peanut butter on the stain for at least five minutes. Clean afterward with a damp microfiber cloth.
The acidity in lemon juice will remove the toughest stains. Try putting a few drops on the Sharpie, and let it work its magic!
Dry Erase Marker
You can use dry erase markers to remove Sharpie from whiteboards and different types of plastic. Trace over the Sharpie mark and then use a clean paper towel to remove.
WD-40 is a miracle worker that you can buy at most retail stores. Give this cleaning product a try if you accidentally get Sharpie marker on your metal table or faux leather handbag.
Tide, OxiClean, and Zout make excellent stain removers. You can get a small stick or a giant spray bottle, depending on how often you’re getting Sharpie on your personal items!
*DISCLAIMER: Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any damage caused by removing Sharpie.
One of these cleaning strategies is sure to help you get rid of those Sharpie marks! Always test a small area first, and make sure you clean the stain right away. You don’t want to let the Sharpie sit for too long as it makes it more difficult to clean later.
Can You Customize Sharpies?
Many companies print their name or logo on the barrel of promotional pens. However, you can also do the same on custom Sharpies! These marketing items are great for job fairs, bookstores, and trade shows.
Do you want to order your own promotional Sharpies? Send a digital file of your design to Quality Logo Products, and we’ll print it on any of the markers we have on our site. You’ll find every color and style!
Are Sharpies Toxic?
Sharpies are labeled as “non-toxic.” According to Healthline, it’s not likely that you’ll get ink poisoning from getting Sharpie on your skin or in your mouth or eye.
On the other hand, it’s very dangerous to purposefully breathe in the smell of permanent marker fumes. Inhalation can result in slurred speech, loss of coordination, and nausea. Never intentionally breathe in the smell of Sharpies!
Ultimately, you should avoid using Sharpies in any way other than their intended use. If you really want a tattoo, for example, temporary tattoos are much safer and less harsh to clean off later.
What is So Special About Sharpies?
There are many permanent markers out there, but Sharpies are the most special. These permanent markers are comfortable to hold, come in a variety of eye-catching colors, and have been around for over 50 years!
It’s that long history that makes Sharpies so special. Your parents and maybe even grandparents used them, and now you’re pulling them out for art projects. Who knows what’s in store for the future?!
Stats for Success
You can buy Sharpies in over 20 countries around the world.
In 1964, employees at Sanford Ink Company were able to make about 4,000 Sharpies in one 8-hour shift.
Terrell Owens’s famous “Sharpie Touchdown” resulted in about $5 million in free publicity.
The Bottom Line
Sharpie markers come in handy for DIY projects, gift wrapping, decorating, homework assignments, and so much more. Whether you pick up a custom Sharpie, silver Sharpie, thin Sharpie, or a Sharpie Paint Marker, you can’t go wrong with this one-of-a-kind brand!
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