11 handy tips for buying art supplies cheaper when money is tight

Have you ever walked into a large art store like Hobby Craft and thought, “where the hell do I start?”

I know I have. It can be so overwhelming and yes, totally exciting too, that one can spend a fortune on products that as a first time buyer thinks they actually need.

When I first decided to stock up my little corner of the dining room with supplies I went crazy. I bought paintbrushes for each medium, different paint mediums, paper for each medium in a variety of sizes….you get the drift?

Instead of planning my visit before hand, I just rushed in with my credit card and came out with palpitations at how much money I had spent.

So I have put together 11 handy tips to get you started on your journey of smart art shopping.

So here goes:

Tip 1/ Paintbrushes

  • Do you really need that £12.00 watercolour paintbrush? Or can you buy a set of mixed sized brushes for the same price?
  • Make-up brushes can be bought cheaply and I have found that you can achieve some amazing paint effects with them.

Tip 2/ paint palettes

  • I have used plastic lids, tin foil trays and even the plastic tray that held vegan chocolates I got one year as a Christmas gift.
  • Always ask yourself before throwing anything out whether you can use it when you are being creative.

Tip 3/ Cheaper Paints

  • A lot of artists will use cheaper paints for the under-painting of their pictures as it is less noticeable.
  • Some student grade paints are just as good as the professional grades.

Tip 4/ Make use of what you have

  • I was going to buy a new set of acrylic paints a while back, but I stopped myself. I realised that I still had a haul of these paints stashed away somewhere and that I had hardly used them. So I dug them out and started using them again.
  • I have forced myself to get into the habit of always looking at what I have first and using it up before buying more.

Tip 5/ Charity Shops

  • I was once browsing in my local charity shop and spotted a box of sketchbooks for sale. When I looked closer I noticed that they were from the more expensive brands that I had never been able to afford. The person who had donated them had removed any sketches that had been inside, still leaving loads of pages untouched. That whole box cost me £3.00 and if I had bought them from a store they would have cost me in the region of £50. You can imagine how pleased I was?

Tip 6/ Internet

  • Look on the internet for discount codes, special offers or any sales that are coming up.
  • Ebay can be a great place to find affordable art supplies.
  • Amazon sells everything and I have found some great deals on their site.

Tip 7/ Know what you need beforehand

  • I could have saved hundreds of pounds if I had planned my shopping trips in advance.
  • Just writing a list of the items you DESPERATELY need and sticking to it really does help.

Tip 8/ Repeat Custom

  • Do you shop at the same local art store? If you do, why not ask if they have a loyalty scheme or if they offer discounts to regular customers. You will never know unless you ask. I did this once in an independent art shop local to me, one I was visiting quite regular and she gave me a free sketchbook and a fine-liner ink pen. I was over the moon.

Tip 9/ Go easy on the squeezing

  • Only squeeze out the amount of paint that you need. You can always add more if you need to. I have been heavy handed with paint in the past but nowadays I am a lot more careful.
  • Remember “less Is More”.

Tip 10/ Gifts

  • When friends and family ask what I want for birthdays and Christmas I always ask for vouchers from my favourite art shop or an amazon voucher. That way I can spend on the stuff that I have had my eye on for a while.

Tip 11/ Bulk Buy

  • Sometimes buying in bulk can work out a lot cheaper. If you have quite a few things that you need to buy then you can shop around to see who is offering the best bulk buy deal.

There are probably many more ways that one can be an artist without breaking the bank and I would love to know if you have any tips of your own. Please comment below and help our fellow artists out.

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