Thursday, May 16, 2019

Has Copic Gone Dry?: Don't Panic

Too Will Distribute Copic Markers in the US


Recently, Imagination International Inc (iii), Copic's US distributor, announced that iii and the Too corporation, Copic's parent company, would be parting ways.

The gist seems to be that after two decades of working together, the new generation of owners want to move Copic in another direction.  They want to cut iii out of the operation and work directly with the customers that iii have built overseas.  iii will cease supplying Copic products in the US, as well as cease marketing the Copic brand.  Most of us know that Copic prices have risen in the past few years as demand has increased, iii has absorbed as much of the price hike as they possibly could, so the US saw a smaller hike than the EU.

iii carries several brands at this time- X-Press It (frequently sold in conjunction with Copic as a blending paper for markers), Sensebook, Better (glue), Everyday Easel (easel/drafting table), Terial Magic (gives fabrics paper like qualities), and more.  Personally, I'm not familiar with most of these products- I am most familiar with the Copic line of tools and materials.

Recently they've changed their Twitter and Instagram handles to Marker Universe, a more generic name that can possibly reflect a broader diversity of marker ranges.  On their Instagram, they also announce the  upcoming launch of a new website at MarkerUniverse.com.  You can sign up for notification of site launch.   In answering questions and comments on their Instagram, they talk about bringing more marker options from around the world, expanding their line, and continuing to sell Copic markers as a retailer.

universeofmarkers

To help answer some of the questions out there: Copic still does exist. We’ll still be continuing #ColorsoftheMonth, and while you may see mentions of Copic on our feed, our focus will be to celebrate other incredible brands around the globe in order to connect with artists in the best celebration of art possible.

universeofmarkers

@taylorcapitano1 Not a dumb question! Copic markers will still be sold. We’re just expanding to include other great brands from around the globe, as we are a distributor and not the direct manufacturer.

universeofmarkers

@andrewtheartist No, Copic will remain the same as far as we know. But we cannot speak for them - you would need to contact the Copic manufacturer to be sure.

universeofmarkers

@rinka687artastic We’ll definitely be bringing you many different marker options from around the globe - different styles and price points. Stay tuned!

The official Copic site lists a US-based subsite as their American Distributor now

Official Copic site in English

The American Subsite isn't nearly as fleshed out as the Japanese site, and doesn't have links to retailers, tutorials, or additional information.  Both sites seem reminicent of the Deleter Site, and the Deleter US site.

Official Copic US Distribution Site

At this time, it does not list Copic accessories such as Various Inks, Multiliners, the Copic ABS, tutorials, or replacement nibs for Copic markers or Multiliners.

The official Copic site is well worth exploring, with artist interviews, Copic information, and tutorials- although some content may be in Japanese.  There's even a cute comic about how Copic Sketch and Copic Ciao differ.  I really hope they plan on bringing this rich content to their Western fans, as iii did a lot to make Copics accessible in the US.  We'd love a Copic Clinic!

The Too website seems to be much more content rich, as is CopicMarker.com  At the top of the page, CopicMarker.com mentions that they are out of Various Ink refills.  The Too site seems to be a reskin of the Copic Japan site, so again, I hope that they translate this content and make it accessible to Western audiences.  If I remember correctly, CopicMarker.com is attached to iii, and will probably rebrand to MarkerUniverse shortly.  I recommend you check out their rich content, including tutorials and interviews, while it's still available.

If you have any questions about this transition, I strongly recommend you contact Copic directly with your questions.

For most of us, US and Canada based illustrators, manga artists, or stampers, we know about Copic due to iii's efforts.  From convention booths at shows like Otakon and Anime Expo, to the Copic Certification (it was my dream to get certified, but they ended the program before I had a chance to make it down to Atlanta for the certification classes), to outreach and endorsement from stampers and scrappers, iii made a popular art supply for mangaka and illustrators accessible to the US public.

Fans of Japanese art supplies know that it can be difficult getting the products we need, particularly when distributors change, brands take control of their own distribution in the West, or products fall from popular favor.  While there are shops dedicated to importing Japanese stationery products, few are truly dedicated to importing Japanese art and craft supplies at more than a token level.  I've traveled to Japan twice, both times returning with entire suitcases packed with artbooks and art supplies, and I've subscribed to Zenpop.jp's Stationery Box from January-May to access how well they fill that nice.  With too taking over their own distribution, I'm concerned that we may see Copic shortages during the transition, but I sincerely hope they listen to their Western fans and try to maintain stock and distribution.

My Predictions

I think that Copic is pretty firmly established as a popular entity in the US, so a longterm shortage or a cease in distribution is unlikely.  I do think that many stores will scale back in their Copic offerings- perhaps only offering Copic Sketch markers, or maybe only sets of markers.  I think larger retailers such as Blick will continue to offer a larger selection, like Various Inks and replacement nibs, but Copic may opt to phase the Original out of the US market completely.

You may find it difficult to find Copics in smaller art supply stores, such as small chains or mom and pop stores, and access to Copic information may become even more limited.  Stores may be more prone to backorders and limited stock, particularly while distribution switches over to Too.

This post was not written to imply that there will be longterm shortages, nor that Copic will cease manufacturing or distributing Copic markers.  I do suggest that if you need Various Ink refills or replacement nibs, you buy them now, while they're easily accessible, rather than waiting, just because I know that there are always hiccups when distribution changes hands.  In the rest of this post, I cover availability through popular marker resources.  By the time you see this post, these supplies may have changed.

Over the years, I've reviewed dozens of alcohol markers here on the blog and on the Youtube channel, but only a couple ever held a candle to Copic's offerings.  And with our access to Copic refills, markers, and replacement nibs up in the air, now might be a great time to reexamine the other markers on the market, and plan an exit strategy.  I'll discuss that in future posts, however.  If you'd like to check out alcohol marker alternatives now, you can visit my Alcohol Marker hubpage.

Where to Buy Copic Markers and Accessories:


Art Supply Stores

DickBlick:
On Blick, one of the larger art supply retailers in the US, Copic Various Inks, and Copic Wide Markers seem to be in low supply, but Copic OriginalCopic Sketch, and Copic Ciao Markers seem to be in stock.  Nibs seem to be in stock as well.

Various Ink Listing on Blick

Marker Supply:
Marker Supply has Copic Original, Copic Ciao, and Copic Sketch sets available, but does not carry Various Inks, Copic Wides, or replacement nibs.

Marker Supply

Carpe Diem Markers:
Carpe Diem Markers has descriptions for the Copic Refill Booster, Copic Opaque White, and the Nib Tweezer, but only lists Copic Opaque White. They still carry Copic Ciao in Sets and openstock, Copic Original Markers openstock, and Copic Sketch Markers in openstock.  Most of the Various Ink colors are available in stock, and they still carry a variety of replacement nibs, including nibs for Copic Wide, which they do not seem to carry at this time.

Carpe Diem Markers 


Jerry's Artarama:
Jerry's Artarama has a wide range of Copic products listed including the Copic Airbrush System.  Copic Sketch is available openstock and in most sets, Copic Ciao is available openstock and in all sets, Various Ink is mostly out of stock, Copic Wides are available in set B, empty markers are available for Copic Sketch and Copic Wide, and the Copic Air Brush System is currently out of stock.  Replacement nibs are not available.

Jerry's Artarama Empty Copic Listing


PlaZa Art:
PlaZa has Copic Sketch markers available in sets and openstock, but does not currently carry Various Ink.  They do not carry Copic Original, Copic Ciao, or replacement nibs.

PlaZa Art

Cheap Joes:
Cheap Joe's Art Stuff carries Copic Original markers openstock and in sets, although many of the openstock Original markers are on backorder.   They also carry Copic Sketch markers in sets, but do  not seem to carry Copic Sketch markers openstock, nor Copic Ciao, and do not carry Copic Various Ink.

Cheap Joe's Marker Listings
MarkerPop: 
MarkerPop used to be strongly focused on waterbased and alcohol markers, but has turned their focus mainly to stamping.  When you search for Copic or Copic Markers, nothing comes up, but if you go to the Marker subheading and select Copic, you'll see listings for Sketch markers, Varous Ink Refills, Ciao markers, Wide markers, Original markers, Multilners and Multiliner SP pens, Ciao sets, and replacement nibsCopic Sketch, and Copic Ciao markers in stock, Copic Wide and Copic Original markers are mostly in stock, and Various Ink refills are beginning fall out of stock, so if you're looking for specific colors, you may want to cross check with other sites in this post.

MarkerPop Copic listings
CultPens:
Cultpens, a UK based penshop with worldwide shipping, also carries a range of Copic supplies.  They may not be able to legally ship Copic products to the US, as that might violate the distribution agreement with Too, so your mileage may vary. 

Cultpens has listings for Copic Original, Copic Sketch, and Copic Ciao markers, Copic Multiner and Spica pens, the Copic refills, as well as Copic Accessories.  They offer Copic Originals openstock as well as in sets, and also offer the replacement nibs.  With openstock, marker color is selected from a dropdown menu, so please have your color chart handy when making selections.  Copic Sketch is available openstock, as well as in a wide range of sets.  As with the Original, openstock Copc Sketch marker selection is made from a dropdown menu.  Copic Ciao markers are available in sets as well as openstock with individual marker selection made from a drop down menu.  Cultpens doesn't seem to have any out of stock notices for their Various Inks, but you also select it from a drop down menu, so I wonder if they only let you know it's out of stock once it's in the cart or if they remove what they don't have automatically.

CultPens Copic Listings
OtakuFuel:
OtakuFuel carries Copic products, but I want to caveat that I've had bad experiences with their delivery years ago, and there are other dissatisfied customers, so order at your own risk.  Otakufuel carries Copic Ciao openstock, although there are several colors that are out of stock.  They also carry Copic Original openstock, again with several out of stock (although fewer out of stock than the Ciaos).  Their openstock Copic Sketch selection also has several colors currently out of stock.  Their Various Ink selection has several holes as well, as does their Copic Wide selection.

OtakuFuel Copic Listings

Craft Stores: 

AC Moore:
AC Moore has some Copic Sketch markers in stock, but it seems to be openstock online, and their prices are quite high.  Your options may vary by store.

AC Moore Copic Listings

Michaels:
Michaels has Copic Sketch and Copic Original markers sorted by color families.  They carry 31 colors of Copic Wide markers, as well as empty Copic Classic, Copic Sketch, and Copic Wide markers.  They seem to be fairly well stocked with Copic Sketch markers online, but not all colors are available in stores.  Copic Original colors may be out of stock online, and may not be available in store.  Copic Ciao markers are only avilable in sets, Copic Sketch and Copic Original markers are also available in sets.  They carry nib refills as well.  They do carry Various Inks, but many are out of stock online and not available in store. Their prices are high, and their site is annoying to navigate.

Michaels Copic Listings

Big Box Stores


Amazon:
You can find a lot of Copic products on Amazon.   Copic Original Markers are available in a wide variety of sets, as well as openstock (easier to find if you know the color number, and search that+Copic Original).  They also carry Copic Sketch Markers, in various sets, as well as openstock by searching for the Color family+Copic Sketch.  Your options for Copic Ciao markers are a bit narrower, mainly the larger sets are listed.  You can find sepecific openstock Copic Ciao markers by searching for the family+Copic Ciao.   Copic Wide markers are available in sets as well as open stock.  Copic Various Ink is available on Amazon, but its more expensive than the other sites listed above that carry it.  You can also find a wide variety of replacement nibs for Copic on Amazon.


Or you can search the color name+Copic to see all options available.

Copic Listings on Amazon


Note:  Amazon links are all affiliate links.  No other links in this post are affiliate links.

Walmart:
Walmart carries Copic Sketch and Copic Ciao markers in a variety sets, but not openstock.  Sets start as small as 3 markers (blending trios), or triple packs of the colorless blender.  Copic Ciaos are available openstock starting at $3.90, but prices vary wildly, and Walmart may not offer the best price for what you need.  Ciaos are also available in sets of 6.  Walmart also carries Various Ink, but the price also varies wildly from $5.99-$15.74 depending on the color.

Copic Listings on Walmart

Overstock:
Overstock currently carries Copic products, but as with Walmart and Amazon, prices fluctuate wildly.  Overstock frequently offers coupons, so make sure you use those when you check out for the best deal possible.  They carry Copic Sketch markers in sets and openstock, Copic Ciao openstock and in sets, a very limited number of Copic Original markers openstock, but not in sets, no Copic Wide markers, some replacement nibs, and Various Ink, although a direct search for Various Ink yields few results, it does pop up when you search Copic Sketch and Copic Ciao.

Overstock.com Copic Listings


If you found this post to be helpful, useful, or inspirational, please consider supporting my work on Patreon, or taking one of my in-person classes in the Nashville area.  Your support (sharing my work on your favorite social network, supporting me on Patreon) allows me to continue to create content like this, and allows me to continue to dedicate time to writing art tutorials and art supply reviews.

In the near future, I'm going to be working on blog posts and videos focusing on great Copic marker alternatives, so please keep an eye out here and subscribe on Youtube!

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