Most artists prefer to use expensive paints or pastels but for one man it was his trusty 3p ballpoint pen which helped him create a masterpiece, winning him a £6,000 prize.
Gary Lawrence spent almost a year working on his 6ft by 4ft picture using a packet of ten Tesco Value budget pens which he used to ink his images onto the reverse side of old Woolworths advertising posters.
And when the 51-year-old, from Wethersfield, Essex, completed the picture, based on a view of a port on the Greek island of Kalymnos, he could not even afford to frame his finished work.
Instead the part-time cleaner rolled the work, called Homage to Anonymous, into a tube and posted it to judges.
He was gobsmacked when he was chosen as the winner of the prestigious Jerwood Drawing Prize 2011.
Mr Lawrence said: "It's recession art as times are hard. And the pens are perfect, I could not use them if they kept running out, they just last for ages."
"When Woolworths closed down a few years ago I went in and asked if I could have the shiny advertising posters, on one side they have the details about the final sale and on the other side there is my artwork."
"There is even the back of a John Lennon poster that I have used in there too so it really was about cutting costs."
Gary revealed that life could be tough financially so he boosts his income by taking on cleaning shifts as well as teaching art classes.
He is hoping to be in the money again soon as Homage to Anonymous is now up for sale for £2,000.