Archer & Olive Blackout notebook review
As and avid bullet journal keeper, I always wanted to try the famous Archer & Olive blackout notebook and 2022 is the year I got to do so.
Now 5 months into it, I can give an in depth reviews with all the pro and cons of keeping a journal on black paper and give you all the details about my experience so far and where to buy it, or find alternative to it in India, along with the supplies you WILL need to write in one.
I have been a fan of Archer & Olive journals since 2019 when Bigger Dreams Co. sent me one to review, and I've since then kept my 2021 journal in a white page A&O and KNEW I had to get my hands on a Blackout book next because I had been in love with how it looked in Instagram posts. Finding a site that sold the Blackout in India took me time, unfortunately Bigger Dreams was out os stock (and still is), but thankfully, thee is another BuJo supplies store in India that has them : Paper Planning and More. If you live outside of India and aren't sure where to start looking, the Archer & Olive website is where you need to start.
Archer & Olive is known for their quality thick 160gsm paper and quality binding and is te kind of journal artists favour because this paper can take watercolor, pigment ink and gouache like a boss without much of a sign of ghosting or bleeding. The downside of them all being that you are limited to 160 or 192 pages depending the notebook, so if you want to fit a whole year in just one book, your spreads are going to have to be fairly simple.
Black or white, the paper is the same exclusive quality one can expect from Archer & Olive, and there is no compromise on that one. Quite frankly though, the ghosting is not going to be mush of an issue at all even if it were thinner paper in the Blackout. Ink bleeding through is really a white page problem and will never quite be a black paper thing.
you will need special pens to write
Black paper comes with the unique challenge of requiring pens with an opaque ink, you won't be able to write with your regular fine liners and pens and you won't be able to draw in it with regular water or alcohol markers. The ink will simply not show on dark paper. this means that if you don't have opaque gel pens like the Gelly Rolls, or Posca pens (affiliate links), you will need to invest in those first. You will also need a black sharpie or copic marker to erase your mistakes as correction tape only comes in white and won't do in a black paper notebook. The biggest drawback of these opaque pens, is that as you reach the end of the cratridge, the gel ink inside become sticky and it becomes harder and harder to get clean lines. I currently have 2 white gelly rolls that are completely useless while it still shows they are about half full. It's a problem I never had with regular black and blue gel pens, so be prepared to have to replace these pens a lot more often than your regular white paper proof gel pens.
Black paper is a LOT more forgiving
You might be a bit limited with what you write and draw with, but black paper has the HUGE advantage of being a lot more forgiving than white paper and that is probably the biggest pro point in favour of a Blackout book. No matter what you use, you won't have to worry about ghosting happening with black paper. In my white paper A&O books, there were certain pens and inks that would still bleed through and Stabilo Boss highlighter are actually quite infamous for that...they bleed through 160gms paper!!!!! The blackout puts and end to that issue, because opaque pigments do not bleed easily to begin with, and then even if you use gouache, you won't see the wet spot on the other side of the paper. Heck you can correct a mistake with a sharpie or alcohol based marker without seeing it spoil the next page. So, if you are really 100% against the idea of ghosting or bleeding in your journal and are creative enough to use opaque mediums, go fo it.
It's not ideal for washi tape
I love using washi tape in my journals, and unfortunately, black paper is not the best for it. Washi tape is a bit translucent, and the black paper will show through and dull the colors a bit, unless you stick to metallic tape or tape with enough metallic accents to make you forget about the dull colors.
It's also less than ideal for transparent stickers, but it's fine with white background stickers, so plan your spreads accordingly.
For me, quite frankly, this is a bit of a deal breaker, and I now KNOW that the 2023 journal will be back on white paper because I don't like my washi tape use to be that restricted.
All in all, writing on black paper has been fun so far, it's definitely different and gives a really cool vibe to my 2022 journal, but with all this in mind, I much prefer white paper because it's less limiting in terms of what I can use to draw, paint and write with and DEFINITELY better if you are a washi tape lover. Archer & Olive notebooks are also quite expensive, and fortunately there are black paper BuJo alternatives in India (not to mention white paper but that will be for another post. The Obsidian Paper press seems to have quite a few options of black dotted grid journals, and so does Onyx Printing
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