The Uses of Ink

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Ink has many uses in modern culture.

Ink provides much of the color on paper in the modern world and has many uses in different cultures around the globe. Cornell University explains that inks consist of dyes or pigments suspended in liquids, such as water, oils or alcohols. Although many inks are relatively easy to make, developing the correct formulation for a specific ink use can require some effort and chemistry skills.


Printer Cartridges

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Printers contain cartridges with different colors of ink.

Printers use ink-filled cartridges to add color to paper. Many printers have separate cartridges filled with different colors of ink, which the printer mixes together to form a wide range of colors. Other printers use one color cartridge that contains small amounts of multiple colors. Inks from printers make many appearances throughout the world on a variety of items, including children's school papers printed at home, book pages, product labels, packaging, stickers and signs.

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Tattoo artists create tattoos with ink underneath the skin.

Tattoo artists create tattoos by placing ink beneath the skin with tiny needles. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that some types of tattoo ink can cause allergies in certain people and warns that the FDA has not studied tattoo inks enough to know how the body handles them. The FDA plans to research tattoo inks to figure out how the body reacts to them and how light affects tattoo ink.



Markers contain ink to color paper.

Many art supplies contain ink, including pens, printing machines, markers, stamp pads and sometimes paints. Some artists also use bottles of ink to create designs on paper by dipping a hard tool in the ink and using it to draw or spread the ink on the paper.


Writing and Calligraphy

Chinese calligraphers use brushes and ink to create beautiful Chinese characters.

Modern pens used for everyday writing contain ink. People also used to write by dipping feather quills into ink. Chinese and Japanese calligraphers dip brushes in ink to write characters. According to Columbia University, Chinese calligraphy is a well-respected art form that looks attractive while also teaching students how to write the language properly. The Chinese ink comes in dried sticks, which calligraphers mix with water to create the perfect ink consistency. Western calligraphers also use ink to write, either by dipping their pens into ink or using replaceable ink cartridges within the pen. The University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom even offers a degree in calligraphy.



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