Gallagher: An O-PEN-ion Piece

Gallagher's collection of Paper Mate Flair (Medium) pens. - Staff Writer / Lea Gallagher

Everyone is passionate about something. Be it family, sports, history, animals, “Star Wars,” makeup or politics, we all have at least one thing we care very much about. Personally, I have many passions, but one of my biggest is writing utensils. Yes, you read that correctly.

Once I began my “career” as a writer during my later years of high school, I figured that writers should have lots of pretty pens and notebooks. Those things are not really necessary, but I have developed a taste for them regardless.

Over the past six-or-so years I have gone through many pens of different inks, grips and colors, enough that I have figured out what to buy and what not to buy. I can break them down into three basic categories: good, acceptable and life-changing. If you’ve read this far, then you’d likely be happy to stick around and read about my oPENions.


Paper Mate Profile — These are your average ballpoint pens, but a little better. The ink is a tad sticky, but the tip is unbelievably smooth and perfect for fast notetaking. It also writes pretty darkly, so you don’t have to jam it onto the page, and the grip on the barrel is extremely comfortable.

Pilot G2 07 — These fancy gel pens are almost perfect. They come in a variety of vibrant colors and the ink is thick and soft on the page. The only problem is that they smear a bit. The grip is decently comfortable, but nothing to go crazy over.


Paper Mate Flair (Ultra Fine Tip) — Paper Mate is by far my favorite pen company, but they kind of dropped the ball(point) on this one. The ink is pretty and colorful, but the tip is rather scratchy. Additionally, the barrels are a bit slippery without a rubber grip. And they’re not really “pens” —  more like Ultra Fine Point Sharpie markers, but not half as good.

Sharpie S-Gel (0.7mm) — We all know that Sharpie markers are unbeatable, but when it comes to pens — eh. Yes, the colors are nice and the ink is clear, but they absolutely reek of “Sharpie smell.” You can deal with that in small doses, but these are not good for long-term writing. Basically, they serve the same purpose as the markers, but the tips are small and, you know, pen-like. Another major gripe I have with them is the obscurity of the color you’re using. The barrels are black, and the color of the ink is revealed only by a tiny band above the grip.

Speaking of the grips, they have these little spiral-type patterns on them that kind of dig into your fingers if you’re writing for a long time. Again, these are alright in short bursts, but I would never recommend them for your handwritten autobiography. However, a wonderful feature is that they do not bleed through the paper. That comes as advertised, and it’s awesome. Side note, these also come in “Pearl White” and a beautiful “Frost Blue,” both of which write in black. I’m not crazy about these pens, but those blue ones are way too pretty for me to pass up.

Bic Atlantis — I wouldn’t wish Bic pens upon my worst enemy, but I might recommend these. I lived on these things in middle school, although they’re not as great as I’d remembered. The ink is very, very sticky, and it barely shows up on the page if you’re using a lighter color. I will give them a lot of credit for their barrels, though; they’re really slim and fit well in your hand. The grip is nice and they’re very comfortable to hold. I have a bit of a nostalgia factor going on with these since they were all I used when my middle school first allowed my class to use pens, but really it’s all in the grip. The beauty is practically skin-deep.


Paper Mate Flair (Medium Tip) — I expressed derision for Ultra Fine Paper Mate Flair pens, but these are an entirely different story. The tips are kind of like felt, and they’re very fun to write with. They also come in a huge variety of colors, and just about all of them are pretty as a picture. There are no grips on the barrels, but the barrels themselves have a bit of a “bite” to them; they won’t go sliding around on you. They also write a little thick, giving your writing a sort of chibi look. They’re the most unique pens I’ve ever used, and I totally love them.

Paper Mate InkJoy Gel — These are the greatest pens in the universe. I’m practically obsessed with them. The ink is great, the colors are bright, half of the barrel is a textured grip, they don’t smear, they don’t bleed and the clip has little hearts on it. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about them. They’re perfect. I’m even getting a special cup to show them off on my nightstand.

In summary, if you like gel pens go for Paper Mate InkJoy. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. If you prefer ballpoints, Paper Mate Profile is the way to go. If you’re a masochist, use Bics. 

As a bonus, if you hate pens in general, definitely get yourself some Pilot G2 07 mechanical pencils. They will change the way you feel about writing. If those are out of your price range, get Bic mechanical pencils. I adore those, and you can buy sparkly ones! Essentially, each company has its strengths and weaknesses, but overall, Paper Mate is the best pen pal out there.

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