Fall is approaching once again, and for many this means a return to the pursuits of scholarly self improvement. The return to school for a new year comes with many strings attached: new challenges and endeavors, a giant cut in the amount of free time, and the need for new school supplies. As an art student, this was always a tricky experience. I knew, and still know, the importance of a strong and reliable set of tools with which to tackle my canvases; but as a student this could be a very expensive and challenging road to navigate. On the one hand, you want to use your best gear for the projects that will be attributed to your GPA and future career. On the other hand, you know your school gear will take a beating and you will want to still have quality gear for your personal projects.
In my honest opinion, it is best to stick with inexpensive gear for class and general art projects. For the big works that pertain to final projects or similar, I would use your own personal gear that you save for your own creations at home. It is undoubtedly important to have an arsenal of high quality art paraphernalia at your disposal for the masterpieces you create at your own leisure. These are also the tools that will also be best suited for your final projects. When it comes to the daily grind of minor class projects and small assignments, I find it better to try and save resources. With that, here are some tips to help you get outfitted for this new school year.
This is certainly a must for any aspiring artist in school. Be sure to pick one up that has heavyweight pages and texture designed to allow for bleeding. Such books are readily available at most office supply stores, so you can skip the high prices at your local art store. Something as simple as a 9in x 12in book with 30 pages can be picked up for under five dollars. I have always felt it worthwhile to invest in cheap sketchbooks, because essentially a sketchbook is meant to merely get or keep the creative juices flowing between projects. In my opinion, you should be in a position where if you lost your sketchbook you would hardly even bat an eye.
Sketching Pencils/Colored Pencils
A sketchbook is essentially useless to you without these corresponding elements. You can have this collection be as vast or minimal as you wish, but two pencils you want to be sure to have is a 4B and a 6B pencil. It is also advised to have a set of basic color sketch pencils; if not for yourself, you will find some teachers require them, so it is worth having them on hand just in case. Again, these are your pencils that will constantly be on the go with you. They will likely get broken, or possibly lost, so it is a good idea to keep it cheap with these. Prismacolor and Crayola offer 10-pack sets for very cheap, under $3.
Further on the art class supply list are the paintbrushes, including those that are in the 000 to size 1 range—which are considered fine point—along with a flat or angled brush. The Prang 5-pack of assorted paintbrushes includes three flat and two tapered brushes for under $4. Most craft and office supply stores have sets such as these at comparable prices, and they are well worth looking into for that cheaper option.
Three Ring Binder
I’m sure this one raises a few eyebrows, but in my years as an art student I have learned that a vast portion of the process is taking notes over studies of art history and technique. Keeping yourself organized with these notes, along with all of your handouts, may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many students forget this part. Keeping this aspect of your education in mind from the get go will help you in the long run, and as with your other supplies, there is no need to complicate it. A simple three ring binder can be purchased very inexpensively—though I do recommend purchasing one with locking rings to prevent spills—and easy dividers will also help to keep you organized.
All in all, school costs enough as it is, and the term “starving artist” exists for a reason. Take my advice and stay simple with the day-to-day needs, especially pertaining to your art supplies. The fact, too, that you reserve your best tools for you personal projects that really matter will result in those projects taking precedence in your mind. Learn what you can, while you can, and use this to become all that you can be.
Edward Stuart is an online publisher for the quality framed art expert framedart.com. He enjoys blogging about interior design, art, and home decor.