Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Color Pen Review: Papermate Flair

Right before MTAC, I was bopping about Nashville with Heidi getting ready for the convention.  While we were picking up supplies, we noticed that a local Office Max was having a "Going Out of Business" sale, and decided to pop in for some cheap essentials.

Of course, as soon as I passed the pen displays, I knew I had to splurge and pick up some victims materials to review for this blog.  I know that not everyone has access to a credit or debit card, so for many of my readers, ordering online is not really an option, and I do try to review commonly available materials whenever they seem comparable to the supplies I already use.  Since I knew I'd be getting a discount, I grabbed several of a couple brands- Stylemark Forays and Papermate Flairs.  I'll be reviewing the Flairs today.

Papermate Flairs are a porous point pen available in a wide array of colors.  Individual pens retail for just under $2, but you save more if you buy sets, especially on Amazon.  For those of you, who like me, didn't really understand the difference between a felt tipped pen and a 'porous point pen', Wikipedia explains that

A porous point pen contains a point that is made of some porous material such as felt or ceramic. Draftsman's pens usually have a ceramic tip since this wears well and does not broaden when pressure is applied while writing.

It seems like felt tipped pens are a TYPE of porous point pens, and that porous point pens can have nibs made with a variety of materials.  In general, all of the pens I've reviewed on the blog fall under the categories Marker Pen, Fineliner, Marking Pen, Felt Tip Pen, Marker, or Porous Point Pen, which share more in common than they have defining differences.  Wikipedia explains that

A marker pen, fineliner, marking pen, felt-tip pen, flow, marker or texta (in Australia), is a pen which has its own ink-source, and usually a tip made of porous, pressed fibers such as felt.[1] A typical permanent marker consists of a container (glass, aluminum or plastic) and a core of an absorbent material. This filling serves as a carrier for the ink. The upper part of the marker contains the nib that was made in earlier time of a hard felt material, and a cap to prevent the marker from drying out.
This means that the gap between expensive art supplies and cheap office supply store pens isn't really that wide- all pens that fall into this category are made of the same basic parts, and feature a limited number of ink types.  While you should of course take things like lightfastness, acidity, and archival quality into consideration, it also means there's no reason not to give cheaper supplies a try, especially if that's the only thing you can afford at this point.  It's far better to experiment with what you can now rather than postponing for expensive supplies you may not be ready to utilize. 

The Pens

I picked up one of every color my Office Depot had- a lime green, dark blue, bright red, hot pink, and a raspberry color.  I didn't test them out in the store, because the testing pad had gone missing, but I did uncap them and check for any obvious damage before purchasing.  This is something I highly recommend any time you buy a pen or marker that's open stock- you often can't return a ruined pen, as openstock tends to be What You See is What You Get.

The Papermate Flairs I purchased at my Office Depot have an all plastic body with a metal clip, as well as a plastic guard around the nib.  The body has a matte finish, but the grip area is smooth plastic.

The colors are mostal true to the those on the pen barrel, with the raspberry and blue being the exceptions.  The raspberry is a little hotter than the pen barrel, while the 'blue' is really a purple.

The Field Test

These pens handle pretty similarly to most illustration fineliners or technical pens, although they have a nib similar to a .8 rather than the somewhat standard .3 or .5 tips found in most fineliners.  In terms of performance, I would say they're comparable to the Marvy Le Pens.

Immediate application to black fude pen will result in the black ink smearing.

The Verdict
Being pens I purchased in-store, some are more worn down than others.  The purple I purchased was already broken in, which made it fairly easy to use, and I still utilize it as a writing pen for my planner.  The orange wasn't broken in at all, and was stiff and somewhat difficult to use.  I think I'm not the only one who'd consider these pens for an artistic application, Dick Blick sells the Point Guard Papermate Flairs on their website.  The only difference between the two pens is that the Point Guard pens include a metal guard around the tip.  The pens are fairly well reviewed on the DickBlick site, with one reviewer stating that they are eraser proof (meaning they wont fade after you erase your pencil marks) and non-fading (meaning they're lightfast).  The Papermate Flair is also archival, which means it wont yellow the paper it sits on the way Sharpies do, nor should the ink change color over time.  For inking purposes, you may find that the pen grinds against the texture of the paper- some people enjoy this resistance, some find that it ruins their ability to pull lines.  I fall into the latter category- it's difficult for me to smoothly pull lines with the Papermate Flair, but no more difficult than it is for me to smoothly pull long lines with my fude pens in my sketchbook.  This pen may perform better on smoother paper such as cardstock.