Pen Review: PaperMate Flair UF (vs. Sharpie Art Pen)

Sometimes, we discover there are great pens that have been around for quite some time that we never got around to reviewing. This is one of them.

There are some pens in the virtual pen cup that are tried-and-true or that just get overlooked at the office supply stores. The are so ubiquitous that they are forgotten, invisible or completely ignored. The PaperMate Flair is one of them. I decided it was time to bring them back into the open. Partially because I kept seeing them in new colors and because one of my favorite people, Mike Rohde of Sketchnotes fame, is a big fan.

I discovered that the PaperMate Flair has been steadily releasing new color options as well as making the UF (the ultra extra fine) more readily available as well as the more commonly recognizable medium tip edition. The UF is identitfiable by the silver plastic body compared to the medium tip which has a unified cap and body color. Overall, the PaperMate Flair pens are lightweight with a metal clip and the classic two-heart embossed logo mark on the clip. The look of the pen is a slim, cigar shape with blunt ends that is so classic a design as to be universally familiar.

I purchased the Paper Mate Flair UF 8-Color Set which came is a plastic sleeve and included a standard array of colors as well as a set of Paper Mate Flair UF 6-Color Limited Edition Candy Pop Set. I removed the Candy Pop set from the packaging and immediately forgot the name of the set and the colors so please ignore my writing sample names, I was totally guessing.

First thing to note is that the “Candy Pop” colors aren’t the least bit candy bright hence my inability to remember that they were supposed to be candy-inspired. The original color range are far brighter. In fact, the “Candy Pop” colors aren’t even as interesting as the coveted color tones of the Marvy LePens so I wouldn’t waste the money on them. The original 8-color range in both the medium and UF are far more vivid.

The medium tip PaperMate Flair pens are traditional felt tip pens and are prone to wearing down quickly but are reasonably priced. The UF tips are the pointed tips that are more prone to getting bent from pressure like the Sharpie Pen, Sakura Pigma Micron and other micro-tipped “felt-tipped” pens.

Tested on the Papier Tigre blank A6 notebook.

On the reverse of the paper, no showthrough.

And since I mentioned the Sharpie pen, I thought I’d include a comparison of the PaperMate Flair UF ($11.82) and the Sharpie Pen “art pen” set. ($17.07). The Sharpie Pen set comes in a hard plastic case that can be folded into an easel stand if you are so inclined (pun intended). What have they done to the Sharpie Pen to make it the “art pen” rather than the standard “pen”? I have no idea. Even going to the official Sharpie web site does not include the new pen packaging or any clarification though they list the “art pen” and show the original “pen” so Sharpie may be rebranding the capped “pen” as the “art pen” overall. Regardless, the tip looks the same in the fine-tipped version to the Sharpie Pen we are all familiar with.

Overall, the plastic carrying case is quite durable and if that’s something you like, its a plus in the Sharpie column. The plastic case that the PaperMate pens come in is pretty flimsy and will probably split and degrade in a couple of months of regular use.

When compared to the PaperMate Flair UF, the Sharpie Pen tip actually looks slightly more bulbous though the housing seems a bit more solid and able to withstand the rigors of day-to-day use.

When compared side-by-side, the first six colors are fairly comparable in both sets. The black, blue, red, orange, green and pink are all pretty much similar. The PaperMate Flair green is a bit darker, as is the red and pink but overall the colors are comparable. The color sets diverge with the last two colors, however. With the PaperMater Flair set, the last two colors are purple and turquoise. With the Sharpie Art Pen set, the last two colors are brown and yellow. For highlights and coloring the yellow is a nice addition but its probably too light for legibility purposes.

While I prefer the color mix in the the PaperMate Flair set, the make-or-break point for many will be the water solubility and/or the price point. The PaperMate Flair set is $5 less expensive on Amazon while the Sharpie set is pretty much waterproof.


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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. The photo on Amazon lists the candy colors as salted caramel, gummy green, blueberry bubblegum, grape gumdrop, raspberry fizz and strawberry lollypop, so you weren’t too far off! Although I rarely use them anymore, Flairs are quite nostalgic to me. . . as a kid, they were the first grownup marker (that could be written with, as opposed to chisel-tip stinky markers) I ever had. They only came in 3 colors: black, red and blue. Yeah, that’s how old I am!

  2. I was unaware of the UF Flair, might check them out. I recently rediscovered the old Flairs and the range of colors. I use them at work, although a few sit in a pen bin at home. I find the tip pretty sturdy – better than I expected and remembered. They’re comfortable to hold, lay down a nice line and most of the new colors are great. I have not been a fan of the Sharpie pen. The ink seems anemic to me and they’re a tad too skinny.

  3. “inclined”. Good one!

    I had no idea Flair pens were still around. I remember them vividly from the 70’s, they had great serrated tops to chew on with just the right amount of give, no aftertaste : 0

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