"Saving Money on Supplies as an Artist"


It makes good business sense that sticking to a budget and trying creative ways to save are the most important elements contributing to your success.


The following are some suggestions as to how to stay on budget and creatively save when purchasing art supplies.


  • First on the list is to consider seasonal sales for purchasing certain items. There are seasonal sales online as well as through local businesses, usually on various holidays. The first few months of the beginning of the year are fantastic times to look for sales. Be sure to not underestimate the value of online only sales, throughout the year. I highly recommend subscribing to email lists, because you can receive special coupons, weekly ads, and special deals that a customer walking in from the street will not get. You will also be informed as to any art contests that the art supply companies have planned, for the future. You may want to consider subscribing to Hobby Lobby, Dick Blick, Cheap Joes, and Utrechts. How great would it be for you to get FREE art supplies by winning an online art contest!


  • Next, when purchasing art supplies, materials, and equipment, look around at the hardware stores and unconventional places for your needs. For example, check out Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace for great deals. I personally have found shelving, like-new drawing supplies, and resource books at bargain prices. When shopping locally, try having an open mind. You might find art supplies in what would seem the most unconventional places. For example, a few places that I was surprised to find art supplies were Ross Dress Shop; the local flea market; and various Dollar Stores. I once bought large wax cow markers at the local feed store. My peers paid $8-$10 a piece for their markers at the art store, I paid less than .50 cents per marker--same item, different name, and they did the same job.


  • When purchasing supplies online or in person at the stores, look for the student grade. The student grade is often sometimes just as good as the professional grade or really close in quality. Consider using children's art supplies. For years I used Crayola, especially in mixed media pieces and frankly, there was very little difference to me. When looking for comparisons, please just search YouTube. There are plenty of professional vs. student grade videos to help you decide on the brand of art supply that meets your needs.


  • Another great source for art supplies would be networking with other artists. Networking with online groups is a great way of saving on supplies and equipment. Sometimes you can swap art supplies and equipment with other artists. You may find these colleagues in Facebook groups, Yahoo groups, Facebook marketplace, or on craigslist. Of course, always get everything in writing and always pass off the supplies in a safe, and very public place and never alone. Joining local organizations or art guilds can help you hear through word-of-mouth about online and local sales. Attending classes hosted by local art groups and being a part of the local art scene can be beneficial to you and your business budgeting needs. When artists get together they often brainstorm; discuss ways of budgeting; investing; and distributing cash flow in their businesses.


  • Next, applying for a wishlist on multiple art supply websites, such as Dick Blick, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby can allow your friends and family to support you in your artistic endeavors. You may want to contact them and suggest that instead of a birthday gift or a Christmas present, that you would prefer that they purchase something from your art supply wish list.


  • Lastly, you need to buy and plan wisely. Do your homework, map out all of your goals, consider costs, coupons, sales, and closeouts. No one else will budget for you. You must take responsibility for your own financial goals and the outcome of your business. This is all part of the experience of being an entrepreneur. I know that as a creative, not all of us are savvy when it comes to determining what will happen in our business finances. We can no longer ignore the fact that most of us are not good with math and utilizing that part of the brain. In the areas in which we do not excel, we must find answers, read books, and seek mentors through SCORE, our banks, the Small Business Administration, and other resources to help us in this area of our business.


With a little effort and research you can succeed in the area of saving on your art supply needs. I hope these tips have been helpful. If you have any other suggestions to share or have any comments or questions, just leave them here. Have a creative and wonderful day!


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