"Yes, it's real," says David Rees of his budding pencil-sharpening business. "It's as real as artisanal cheese-making or artisanal honey production or artisanal anything else that's part of this movement." Unlike his electric counterparts, Rees, best known for his comic series Get Your War On, promises the "care and attention" your No. 2s deserve. For $15, he'll whittle one to a fine point, and mail it back with a baggie of shavings and a certificate of authenticity. To date, roughly 80 lead-heads with a well-honed sense of irony have used the service. "I'm hoping I get some repeat customers — people who need touch-ups or resharpening," he adds, noting that, over time, one No. 2 could yield revenue north of $100. "So far, that hasn't happened." artisanalpencilsharpening.com
A version of this article appeared in the November 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.