A system for supplying ink to an ink jet pen wherein an off board ink supply is provided remote from the pen, and ink is fed from this supply to the pen by capillary action created during an ink jet printing operation. The pen includes a porous storage medium which is initially filled with ink at a slightly negative head. However, this negative head increases during ink depletion from the storage medium and provides the capillary forces necessary to pull ink into the storage medium from the off board ink supply. The driving energy for this action is provided by current drive to a thin film printhead of the pen, thus rendering the printhead multi-functional in purpose and simplifying the ink supply apparatus therefor. The use of an intermediate porous storage medium enables the ink supply system to accommodate large rates of changes in ink demand from the pen while still affording the user with a large ink capacity system in which disposable pens may be readily and easily replaced in a user-friendly operation.