Originally posted at Le Rouge et Le Noir
If you are like me then you are always needing more art materials, and art materials can get steep. If you just walk into the art store to buy what you need without planning it you can easily go broke. It takes some strategy. Here are a few tips that I try to do when I need art materials.
1. Buy Ahead
It is wise to buy supplies before hand. If you wait until you need the supplies you will most likely have to purchase at full price for convenience. When looking at the other suggestions remember that you will be buying for the future or what you will be needing down the road. Plan ahead and save.
2. Subscribe to mailing lists
Most art supply stores and hobby stores offer a mailing list you can join. Go ahead and subscribe to every mailing list and email list. These places are constantly offering incentives to get you in the door. They will often e-mail out coupons for 30% – 40% off the list price of materials. If you are buying ahead of time you can use these incentives to your benefit.
Some stores offer cards or memberships that are worth looking into. Creative Coldsnow offers a customer card that gives you $10 off for every $100 spent. If you are buying art supplies regularly you that $10 off can add up quick. If you catch the sales and an incentive like this at the same time you will really be saving.
3. Buy Online
Buying online can save if you go to the right places. A lot of people are selling the same materials online as they do in the stores at similar prices, sometimes higher or lower. With shipping it might not save you a dime. What you need to do is look at places like craigslist and ebay. It is easy to find full priced items on ebay, but if you watch regularly you will find lots of items at great discounts. I have bought what would cost near $600 to buy in a store for as low as $50 on ebay. The key is to watch and look for the deals. Watching regularly will help to find them as well as looking at auctions that end in the middle of the week, they tend to get less attention and go for less than auctions ending in a weekend. Some items are also good to buy slightly damaged or used. Only you can make that call for your needs.
4. Make Your Art Supplies
Canvas is one thing that is easy to start doing yourself and practical to save money. If you buy larger canvases a lot you know they can get pricy. It is good to be shopping for affordable canvas to stretch yourself. Some artists even use bed sheets instead they can be picked up at a local thrift store for cheap. I will watch local fabric stores for sales. I picked up about 4 yards of canvas at a fabric store recently at 50% off the normal price. Higher quality canvases are not easy to find this way you will drop a pretty penny, but if you are stretching your own canvas and building frames you will save a great deal either way compared to buying them prefabricated. I only stretch larger canvases because it is cheap and affordable to buy smaller canvases in packs and the savings in building them yourself is not worth the effort to me.
Paint is another supply that is easy to make. Oil paint specifically is easy to make. You will need a muller, glass, linseed oil, a pallet knife and pigment. You can purchase pigments many places online. They tend to go for less than the oil paint does. Oil paint is simple. Pigment mixed with a few drops of linseed oil and ground in with a Muller. It is easier to get a high quality paint this way for cheaper. Many student grades and some larger brands have filler and other pigments in them. Good pure pigmented paints are expensive. Doing it yourself can be a wonderful option to invest in.
Another thing that I can suggest making yourself is easels. There are some DIY videos out there and it’s not really difficult if you know what you are doing. It only costs a bit of lumber and hardware as opposed to the hundreds they often charge for them. I have not done this yet, but have plans to build a few next year.
5. Other Artists
I have a lot of art materials that I have never used. I have have given away materials or sold them for really cheap, as well as bought some from others. It’s a good idea to talk to other artists and put it out there. You can pick up stuff from people that they may not use as much for their medium and possibly help another artist out at the same time.
Perhaps pulling resources can help artists too. See what you can share and work together with. Or look at what you have started to do. Are you stretching canvas? Perhaps your fellow artist is making paint. The two of you can chip in on the raw materials and make exchanges on materials you have both made.