Knowing where to shop for Art Supplies

5 great Online Art Supply Resources ad a free downloadable supply inventory template.|

Recently, I was asked where I purchase my art supplies.
It had not dawned on me this was something I learned from other artists. The day I decided I wanted to become a fine artist, I thought Michael’s was the end-all and be-all of shopping for art supplies. Well, not really, because I was fortunate enough to grow up in a town with a really good art supply store. It wasn’t until I lived in the middle of two no-wheres that I had to rely on mail-order. There, I learned what my options were from others.

Experiencing the Five Senses while Shopping Art Supply Stores

Nothing quite beats walking into the local art supply store…
  • Smelling the reams of paper, the mineral spirits, and painting mediums
  • Touching the hairs of the brushes and the texture of the paper, or testing the flow of a new fountain pen
  • Hearing other artists exclaim their joy, feeling like kids in a candy shop
  • Seeing the array of colors, comparing one brand’s Indian Yellow to another’s and eyeing the size of a canvas for the painting in my head
  • Tasting might not be such a wise idea, but sipping a glass of wine while I shopped would be in the shop owner’s best interest!
All of this together creates a magical place, where every big idea can become a beautiful reality.
An Artist in an Art Store is Like a kid in a candy shop! Learn how to shop smart for art supplies + download a free art supply inventory template|

An Artist in an Art Store is Like a kid in a candy shop!

Ordering Online Tips and Hints: Coupons, Sales, Bulk, Clubs, and Co-ordering.

Knowing the basic supplies and the better brands is the first step to saving by ordering online.

  • Once you know the brands you prefer and the amount you need, waiting for annual sales and monthly coupons is a great way to save
  • Many online retailers offer a value discount with larger purchases. If you need less than the minimum order, my guess is that you know someone else that would love to share shipping costs for a larger discount.
  • If you plan on attending any art conventions or large workshops, visit the vendor tables. Many vendors offer special discounts at events. Once you are producing enough art to merit it, use this time to order bulk consumables and equipment.

Another great alternative to craft stores are shopping clubs, such as If you can afford to order ahead, this is a great resource.

Quality over Quantity

  • Buy the best quality you can afford and start with the basics. As I mentioned, there was a fantastic art supply, called Rechenbach’s, in my hometown. Starting out, that didn’t seem like a good choice to start my stock of supplies because I perceived it to be quite expensive. What I didn’t know was that the big box craft supply stores carry mediocre brands. The mediocre brands cost less on your receipt at checkout but don’t last as long, perform as well, or inspire a fervor to create just by their texture.
    • The better the quality materials, the better the painting.
    • Sure, just buying high-priced supplies will not make you a phenomenal painter, but it sure will make the road that much smoother getting there.
    • When you are struggling to learn all the principles of art and design and the techniques to achieve the painting you imagine in your mind’s eye, why add to the struggle? (Maybe have something like – When learning to julienne a carrot, you don’t use a dull knife, sort of thing)
      • Take oil paints, for example. Paints that have more filler and less pigment don’t flow very easily, and they are hard to control.
      • The color from tube to tube isn’t always consistent, and learning to mix colors can be more than daunting.
      • Having to stop and sop up excess oil every time you squeeze out paint will derail the flow of that white-hot moment of pure creativity.
5 favorite resources in no particular order
  1. Jerry’s Artarama
  2. Rosemary Brushes
  3. Raymar Art
  4. Utrecht
  5. Dick Blick
Shopping for art materials online can save you time and money if you
  • Keep your inventory list up to date
  • Wait for sales
  • Buy ahead
  • Pool-Shop with fellow artists to save on shipping

Download this free Art Supply Inventory-Artrepreneur Outliner Evernote template and start getting organized so you can focus on your artwork.

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