Looking For An Extraordinary Gift? Try Bernard Maisner’s Luxury Stationery
by Nancy Olson
Once you get hooked on a great pen, the next step on the road to ruin is great paper.
There are numerous options and a plethora of sources from which to choose, from plain bound journals to highly designed note cards and custom stationery. One coveted source of high-end stationery is New York-based artist Bernard Maisner.
Maisner has variously been referred to as a lettering artist, virtuoso calligrapher and custom stationer. And while he is all of these, descriptions are inadequate in the inherent limitations they impose on a man whose art dares explanation.
He graduated from the Cooper Union College of Art in the mid-1970s, but his interest in lettering began much earlier – in grade school, to be exact. Initially self-taught, he started out doing traditional italic and gothic lettering that he copied out of books.
“My father would come home with papers and inks and encourage me to practice,” he says of those first attempts at what would eventually become a focal point of his career.
Maisner credits his background in fine art with his success as a calligrapher and stationery designer. “I couldn’t do this if I were not a painter,” he affirms, saying that painting gives his hand and mind a freedom that would not otherwise be possible.
An historian of letterforms, as well as a teacher of medieval and renaissance manuscript illumination materials and techniques, he has lectured and taught at the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Cloisters Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty Museum of Art in the U. S.
Maisner’s work has appeared in such periodicals as The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, and The Perfect Wedding Reception. Interestingly, he’s also a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild – yes, those were his hands in The Age of Innocence and Sleepy Hollow.
His company, Bernard Maisner Studio New York, offers custom lettering of all types, including master calligraphic artwork for wedding sets, menus and personal stationery – including unique monograms.
His full line of hand-colored and often whimsical note cards and deluxe holiday cards range in price from moderate to one-of-a-kind expensive, and they are available on his website or at select retailers, including Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.
To witness the artist in action is a thrill. Maisner’s graceful hands treat pen and paper with both a familiarity and a newness – as if each blank page were yet another opportunity for something wonderful to happen.
And if he makes his art look easy, it only took decades to make it so. He is meticulous about his tools and uses proprietary ink, paints and a variety of custom-made penholders and vintage nibs (he has over 3,000 steel nibs that he’s collected over the years) to work his magic.
His choice of tool, he says, “Makes me happy, and I do better work.”
Prices for a set of 8 cards and envelopes begin at around $120.
For more information or to shop directly, please visit www.bernardmaisner.com.