Christmas is coming
I have really battled this week to come up with a topic to write about which a) you will find interesting to read and b) could be beneficial too.
Then I hit on it.
I have been struggling like mad trying to figure out what to buy Mr. S for Christmas but realised that I would know exactly what to buy for myself.
So I thought it would be fun to help you put together a list of equipment you might need to use for your art and where to get that equipment, given we are all still in lockdown, so that your family can get you both what you want and what you need.
Thankfully, all the suppliers I work with are still delivering materials so although it is more enjoyable wandering around an art store ordering online is easy and delivery is usually pretty quick.
However, browsing through pages of stuff on a website isn’t anywhere near as much fun and if you are anything like me you suffer from overload and give up.
If you don’t give up that easily you then have to decide where best to buy your products. Different suppliers will have different deals on to encourage you to buy from them and they hope that once there you will buy everything you want from them.
This is a little laborious but the first thing you need to do is make a list, just like you did when you were a child. You need a “Please, Santa” list.
Now, how you do this will depend on how tech savvy you are, but I open an Excel spreadsheet and type a list of items I want. I then go to a number of different websites, copy and paste the item code, size and price into my spreadsheet. I head up columns with the name of the supplier and put the prices in bold. That way I can easily see how much each supplier is charging.
Once you have figured out the best places to buy from you will have a list which you can share with your family so that they can buy you exactly what you need.
I doubt they will want to buy you cans of fixative or pencil sharpeners or rubbers (erasers). They may be things you need but to a non-artist, they are not sexy enough. So, make a list of all those things you would really like to own. If you are a watercolour artist a large sable brush might be something you have hankered after for years. They can be so expensive that it just feels wrong to buy it for yourself.
Maybe you have always wanted to try a different medium but weren’t sure about spending the money? Receiving something like this as a gift feels nicer and because it is a gift you are more likely to go ahead and use it.
My “go to” suppliers, in no particular order, are Jackson’s; Great Art; Art Discount; Sea Whites; Cass Art and the SAA (see below).
I am pretty sure that they all offer gift certificates, too, if you would prefer people to buy them for you instead but they all pretty much provide everything you need as an artist to keep you going through any lockdowns next year throws at us.
If you are looking for specialist materials some of those companies I can recommend for all your print materials are: Lawrence Art; Intaglio Printmakers; Handprinted and Jacksons. There are many more, but these are people I have used so am happy to recommend. If you have great suppliers, I would love you to share their details with me too.
On your supplies list I would recommend having some low-priced items for stocking filler type gifts and some high-priced items in case a few people want to club together to buy you a gift this year.
Other gift ideas for this Christmas could include a subscription to a magazine. There are a number of these to choose from, but Artists and Illustrators (A&I) is a great general painting magazine which features some interesting artists and also shares a variety of painting techniques. In the same vein are The Artist and the Leisure Painter. A&I is very comfortable middle of the road easy reading. For something a bit more edgy, Frieze magazine covers more contemporary artists and has some really great articles.
In fact, there are over 100 art magazines on sale here in the UK and even more in the USA and Canada. Have a search or ask other artists if they can recommend any to you.
The SAA (The Society for All Artists) not only sell products direct to customers, but they also have a membership package which is well worth looking at. I do buy a lot of my art supplies from the SAA and if you tell them that I recommended you, you will also get a free gift for joining.
SAA membership starts at around £45 per year for the standard package. You can buy art supplies at the same price, or lower, than from other suppliers and SAA will price match. You collect reward points which you can use against your next order and there’s free delivery to all UK addresses. They will send you a bi-monthly Paint magazine, which is full of useful information and all the details can be found on their website: saa.co.uk/info/join-the-saa/
Another good reason to join the SAA is that they offer tiered membership which gives you great access to information and greater rewards meaning lower costs, but they also offer membership to anyone overseas as well as options for clubs or groups, professionals and teachers. They really do have you covered. For me, the biggest attraction, is that they provide up to £10 million third party public liability insurance, which is fantastic for me when I am teaching or exhibiting my artwork at the many shows I (normally) attend each year.
So, make your list, price check your wanted items between the suppliers, print out the list with suppliers, item code and price and hand it out to your friends and family who are not sure what to buy for you.
Then, if anyone has any ideas about what I can give to my husband this year, please let me know. I have my list in order but have no idea what to buy for him.