Picking Art Supplies

Which Ones Are Right For You?

I’ve spoken before about picking art supplies, one brand versus another, how they compare, how they perform, etc. My general rule when picking art supplies? Don’t go the cheaper route and avoid anything labeled student grade. Why? Consider the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Yes, student grade art supplies are much cheaper and it makes for a tempting offer. But they’re cheaper for a reason and they generally don’t perform as well or last as long. In many cases, you end up using twice as much product to cover as well or as evenly as the professional grade supplies. So it ends up only being a perceived savings.

Still, art and creativity is widely vast and varied. There is no limit as to what types of art people can create. That being said, your brand of art may really do well with what most would consider substandard supplies. Taking this into consideration, your best bet might be testing out several brands.

Cheaper cost may not equal savings when you have to replace supplies faster due to poor performance, coverage, or breakage.

In most cases, supplies like paints (of all varieties), pencils, pens, markers, etc. can be purchased in a set or individually. Purchase one or two of whatever it is you’re in the market for and test them out. The canvas you use will also affect performance. One brand may work better with your canvas than the other. If you can, buy one each from different brands and do your own side by side comparison. This way, you don’t have to fork out bucket loads of your hard earned cash on sets of supplies that aren’t going to work out for you. Another thing to consider is if for example, the set of top of the line pencils only comes in a set, what happens when you run out of a color? Will you really buy a whole new set just to replace that one color? It may be better to find another brand that allows you to purchase single colors.

Some products can be purchased individually rather than in sets.

You should also do your research on how each brand holds up to the test of time. For example, when it comes to the paper I use, I can’t afford to buy cheaper paper. The more expensive 100% cotton paper is an absolute must. Why? Consider your customers. Put yourself in their place. You fork out a good chunk of money for a work of art and you’re happy with your purchase. But after a few years, the paper starts to yellow and age. How happy would you be with that purchase then? This is precisely the reason why I’ll fork out more money for the paper that resists yellowing. If I can keep my customers happy, they’ll not only be a repeat customer, but one happy enough that they’ll refer me to their friends and family.

Also consider how well a product is made. For example, during my college years, I paid a pretty penny for refillable pen and marker sets, as well as some brushes. The cost was painful at the time, but I still have these items in my art box well over twenty years later. Well worth the cost and they’ve paid for themselves many times over.

Consider how your art supplies perform — how well they cover, how well they perform in regards to your needs and with other media you use, etc.

Picking art supplies is a very personal thing. What works best will depend not just on your preference, but also the type of art you create and the other materials you use (canvas, paper, other media). You might consider a subscription service of art supplies. Companies like ArtSnacks, ScrawlrBox (UK), and SketchBox send you a mystery assortment of art supplies every month. Or, you might opt for the traditional method of taking a trip to your local art store and picking up a small assortment of your own choosing. The latter is much more fun, in my opinion!

Further Reading:

Student Grade Art Supplies

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