Every artist and art aficionado knows how pricey art supplies can be. If you’re a beginner, you’ll have to content yourself with the cheap stuff while the more premium materials remain out of reach. And even if you’ve established yourself as a professional artist, access to good supplies can be challenging if you’re not well-off. The reality is that good art supplies cost money, and you need money to sell art.
Fortunately, you’re not the only artist who has learned to deal with this problem. It’s all about making the most of what you have, whether it’s paintbrushes, gold foil, or watercolors. You also need to be smarter with your money. Think of this as a good story you can tell one day. You only need to overcome these hurdles early in your careers. Once you’ve found some success, you can then buy better supplies and materials.
But just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune on supplies. It’s always a good idea to be budget-conscious, and just because you’re looking for a bargain doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing quality. Here are a few tricks that will help you save money on art supplies.
1. Stores reward loyalty
Many retail stores have loyalty programs in place for repeat customers. If you’ve been frequenting the same art supplies store for years, it might be smart to ask if they offer some incentive for their loyal customers. They might give you store credit or a discount on future purchases.
If your favorite art supplies store doesn’t have a customer loyalty program, start looking for one in your area that does. Just make sure that they sell your favorite brands and are just as affordable as your current go-to store. You also want an accessible store. The savings you get might be canceled out by the time or cost required to travel to an art supplies store that’s farther away.
2. Control your paint use
Paint is often your biggest expense when it comes to art supplies, so one easy way to keep costs down is to control your paint use. Not only does it prevent unnecessary waste, but it could also teach you valuable painting techniques.
When portioning the paint, keep a close eye on the amount you’re using. It also helps if you plan ahead of time the colors you’re going to use. If you’re the type to play around with colors while looking for inspiration, you could end up with a lot of wasted material. If you still have leftover paint you’ve mixed for previous sessions, go ahead and use that one instead of making a new one.
Another technique to minimize paint waste is to use glaze instead of impasto, especially for prototypes or studies. Glaze has a thinner consistency, which means you can get more use out of the same amount. Only use impasto if you really need texture in your work.
3. Get crazy on coupons
There’s a reason why there are television shows devoted to shopping coupons. Practically every major art supplies or crafts store offers coupons, which you can then use to save money on everything from canvases, adhesives, cutting tools, specialty paper to gold foil.
Best of all, these coupons aren’t difficult to find. Your best bet is to search online by typing in the name of art supplies store and appending coupons or vouchers. You can also check the in-store circulars. Finally, make sure to sign up for their email newsletter. Many retailers send discount codes and online-only exclusives to their subscribers.
4. Prep your own canvas
Let’s be honest: pre-primed and pre-stretched canvases are overpriced. And if you do most of your work on canvas, you can expect to spend a small fortune on new canvases. If you’re dead set on sticking to the medium, the best way to cut costs is to stretch your own canvas. Not only does it save you boatloads of money, but you can also experiment with different surfaces for your paintings.
Another fantastic way to save money is to repurpose your old canvases. There are lots of artists out there who have found new uses for old works. If all else fails, you can always cover old works with gesso and reuse the canvas.
A final word
Saving money is a matter of discipline, creativity, and artful budgeting. If you manage the use (and reuse) your current supplies, make the most of store discounts, and limit your waste, you can keep costs down for your art practice.