In 2019, I decided to buy an Axidraw pen plotter and turn my generative art ideas into pen plot art! I started out with a 100 day project on Instagram (follow me @dirtalleydesign) using a program I had written in graduate school that created spirograph-ish designs. Many generative designs plotted later, and I can finally say I think I have a handle on this “pen plotter thing”! (In fact, you can buy my plotter art at

Just standing on a street corner, with some pen plotted art, like you do.

As my Instagram grew in size, I started to feel disconnected from why I had joined Instagram – to be part of a community of artists. The pandemic didn’t help, so in 2021, I decided to create an Instagram account (follow at @penplotart ) to share all of the amazing art being made by pen plotting artists and enthusiasts.

If you found your way here, I think we should be friends! I would love to share your pen plot artwork on Instagram. I am also organizing a pen plotting art challenge on Instagram called Plot Party this July 8-14, 2021.

What is a Pen Plotter?

A pen plotter is a drawing machine! It’s basically like printing with pens. In fact, the first pen plotter I ever used looked more like a printer. I first used a pen plotter in undergraduate during a class on different print making methods (this was way back in the early 2000’s), they have been around a while! In fact, you just might be thinking of picking up a refurbished pen plotter from the 80’s (in which case, I am quite jealous!)

Pen Plotter: pen, meet paper, meet robotic arm!

If you are familiar with CNCs, a pen plotter is like a 2D CNC! You can also use a CNC or 3D printer to “draw” just like a pen plotter.

If you are completely new to pen plotters and are thinking of getting one, check out my in-depth guide on using an Axidraw pen plotter.

If you are looking to purchase a pen plotter, you can take 10% off an AxiDraw pen plotter and accessories with discount code DIRTALLEY10 when you buy directly from Evil Mad Scientist, the makers of the AxiDraw!

About Michelle Chandra

I studied generative art, data visualization, and all things maps at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications program. For my Master’s Thesis, I created a map visualization that showed sunrises and sunsets around the world on Instagram in real-time. My work has been featured in many publications including the Daily Mail, Engadget, Gizmodo, and the Weather Channel.

Little old me – pen plotted! By John Proudlock.

Since graduating in 2015, I worked at a web mapping startup (CARTO) as a Support Engineer before deciding to pursue this “art thing” full-time a few years ago.

My approach to pen plotting is more as an artist, which means I love to geek out about art materials, color, and graphic design, but I also have a deep love for math art, natural patterns and generative art! I will be covering all such topics (in the context of pen plotting) on this blog.