We Are Paper
Making paper is an art. We represent centuries of tradition and mastery in fine art papers. Since our 1994 inception, we have traveled the globe searching for the finest papers from the finest manufacturers. To date, we offer more than three thousand existing papers from sixteen countries but our quest continues. Collaborating with some of the most legendary artists and renowned mills, we are known as the world's most relentless innovator in the art of papermaking. We constantly aim to be ahead of the curve. We listen to your needs and seek out new ways for you to enhance your work. We add value to creative work. We put vision into paper. We are paper.
The history of Legion Paper started in March 1994 in New York when art paper salesmen Michael Ginsburg and Len Levine decided to join forces. Combining their unique expertise, they vowed to play a pioneering role in the world of fine art paper. In the words of Joshua Levine, current CEO and son of co-founder Len Levine: “They had bigger eyes. They were at a point in their lives where they could just have decided to make a good living selling paper. Instead they chose to create something new, something impactful and everlasting.”
TRAVELING THE GLOBE
Such a mission entails never ending travel. In the nineties, Michael and Len traveled to centuries-old German mills, visited legendary Italian manufacturers, Nepalese villages at the foot of the Himalayas, handmade paper makers in the Northern regions of Thailand and mills on Japanese islands. They weren’t just traveling to bring paper home, they wouldn’t only limit themselves to selling what the mills were offering. Instead, they wanted to know what the mill was capable of making. Could these machines and handmade paper craftsmen make what the fine art market wanted?
LISTENING TO ARTISTS
This had been Ginsburg’s strategy from the start of his career. Since the early seventies, he has invested much of his time in listening to artists. He asked them: “What is your perfect paper? What does this ideal paper look like? What does it feel like? What color palette is desired?” With that information, Michael traveled to mills he knew had the capability of producing the best substrates. By trial and error, going back and forth between the mills and the artists, Ginsburg would come back with trials of paper his artists had asked for. Len, at the time Ginsburg’s competitor, was experimenting with new US-made 100% cotton papers for high-end fine art reproduction. So together, they set out to know exactly which mill was capable of making the papers they had in mind. This is still the method we use at Legion Paper. Half a century later, we still listen to the wishes of artists and seek out ways to make them come true.
HISTORIC FINE ART PAPER MILLS
Joshua Levine is convinced there isn’t a fine art paper mill in the world Legion doesn’t know of. “We represent more than 60 paper mills in sixteen countries. Some of our European mills have centuries-old expertise in the art of papermaking. The German Zerkall mill, for instance, dates back to the seventeenth century and produces some of the finest quality mould-made papers in the world. This mill created the letter invitations for Napoleon’s wedding to Marie-Louise of Austria. The 600 year old Italian Magnani mill, is said to have provided the paper on which Da Vinci made his storied sketches and paintings. As true paper connoisseurs, it doesn’t get much better than this.”
“Apart from having a fascinating history, the mills we work with have fascinating abilities, offering endless possibilities in paper making. Before our arrival many of them weren’t producing art papers. We collaborate with them to manufacture papers we designed. Nobody knows the capabilities of more fine paper mills than Legion. This is the only way to put the wishes of artists and designers into the reality of paper.”
Legion doesn't just source, distribute and sell paper. We love sharing our know-how. "We find ourselves at the intersection of paper mills, printmakers, artists, photographers, framers and many other creatives," says Joshua. "We function as a bridge between all of them. We have a unique position and make extensive use of it.”
“Deeply rooted in the art world, we do so much more than just represent paper mills”, says Ginsburg. “We want to enhance the art works of creative people, whether it’s a photographer, painter, designer or printmaker. We are proud to have designed papers that have enabled artists to create what they were limited in creating before.”
We don’t keep our expertise to ourselves. Get in touch with us. We love to share our passion for paper. For each specialty and exception, we are the solution. We're proud of our inventory of over three thousand papers. If we don't have what you need, we know where to find it. And if it doesn't exist, we will create it for you. That is what makes Legion the unique resource we are today.