So I’ve got a pie in the oven – a turkey in the fridge – and a Krampus to put on my shelf. The holidays are fast approaching.
For many this means its time to get started – or if you are really organized (like my sister) – wrap up your shopping list. But if you are like me you have no idea where to start or what to get folks.
Do you have an artist on your shopping list?
Someone you know well enough you should get them something but not well enough to let them loose in an art supply store and foot the bill? Not sure if they like pastels or paints? You don’t know if they are a cartoonist or illustrator, or even why there is a distinction? Or you just aren’t sure what they’d need or want?
In the interest of sparing my brethren another box of Roseart crayons or bad paint – I’ve surveyed a variety of artists – pro and hobbyist and this is what we came up with. We can’t promise these are the most exciting gifts but these are basic staples they’ll probably appreciate.
(For convenience a lot of these are linked n Amazon but JetPens Dick Blick and Jerry’s Artarama will also carry most of these and probably treat their workers better.)
Pens and Pencils
Basically if it makes a mark – it’s usually a hit. Unless you know for Sure what sort of pencil they like to use – don’t invest too much.
But if you are on a small budget – a big package of sharpies or basic mechanical pencils probably wouldn’t be amiss. No matter how many pens or pencils someone owns – they are never around when you need them. So might as well help increase the odds.
For more daring – fun things;
Posca Paint Markers– These are not staples – but they were a commonly requested item among those I asked. And they are fun. Waterproof- non bleeding – non smelly paint markers. These are fun to play with and useful as heck for a variety of purposes. Highly recommend.
Pen Samplers – if you know someone has a thing for a certain color or want to get them something to try out JetPens has a variety of samplers for ya. These are great for a variety of budgets and all sorts of artists. Were they talking about wanting to try out lettering or calligraphy? Want to play with new inking techniques? This is probably your best bet.
Sketchbooks or “Paper! – I need more paper” needed to be a category all it’s own.
Now all artists have different tastes but generally it’s accepted we can and will draw on anything given the chance so – sketchbooks are always appreciated. I link a few here – but there are lots of sketch books out in the world so I just highlighted a few and explained what makes them contenders
Travelogue drawing book– The hardcover is nice to support your drawing surface, because sometimes you aren’t always sitting at a flat surface to work. And the size is good – not too big to carry but not so small its more novelty than useful.
This book of long name – the pedigree of the book isn’t important. (You pay more for moleskin’s name than its worth.) This book is a nice size and can be a journal, diary or sketchbook. The blank cover allows for customizing and decoration.
(Fancy looking sketchbooks are nice – but often end up on the “too nice to bear to use” shelf.)
Canson Field Sketch – most people don’t care about the paper – but for those who do. Canson Field Sketches are good general purpose sketchbooks. Wirebound also allows you to have more flexibility in traveling with it. These also sit flat on a scanner if they are likely to want to digitally archive their stuff.
Kraft Paper – is a brown/tan sort of paper. Some people like to use it – some people don’t. Most folks I know haven’t tried it. This sort of paper pairs well with opaque pens – like the Poscas or gel pens.
These are basic staples that most artists will find they need at some point or other. Probably the equivalent of giving socks for Christmas. While heckled and looked down on as a kid – you might appreciate it as an adult cause that spares you having to get it yourself.
Alvin Ink Well Pencil Sharpener– Pencil Sharpeners are pretty self explanatory – and usually not something I’d recommend as a gift. But from personal experience these are good sharpeners and look nice and hold up well. So might be a worthwhile stocking stuffer.
Drawing and Inking Templates – A bit on the dull side of things but useful to certain types. And if you start asking why these exist – allow me to ask – when’s the last time you’ve tried to draw a perfect circle freehand?
Erasers – It takes a *ahem* certain type of person to give a box of erasers. While these are a practical gift (I do actually own said box of said erasers) – it can be regarded somewhere between a useful gag gift – and an insult. If you are going to give these – may i suggest a card clarifying your intentions and that they aren’t in fact a mistake prone idiot.
Kneaded Erasers – Take with the same caution as above – but these are smooshy. Combination tool and anxiety/ fidget toy. Also useful for those who do more graphite/charcoal work.
Pencil Bags – useful for holding pencils, pens, cords, large amounts of erasers. Most artists I know tend to hoard supplies and always need just. One. More. Bag.
This also opens up the sub category of – the Artist Tool Box. These are bigger, more personal, and generally best left to direct family or the artist to get themselves.
Pencil Organizer- Comes in a variety of colors and has separate sections. The more odds and ends you can separate things out into the quicker you can try to find that specific pen you need right now.
Pencil Roll Organizer – Sometimes you just want to roll out your pencils in front of you like a ne’r do well in a movie. This is that bag for that sort of person, Derwent generally makes quality materials and finding this sort of bag without having to buy a pile of shady supplies with it is great.
Global Flat Pencil Case– I’m a bit biased on these cause they are the ones I use. But they stack well, hold everything in place, and fit in most bags. Also a variety of colors and sizes which is always a nice feature.
Big Capacity Case– It’s not quite a purse – not quite a pencil case. It’s got multiple pockets and elastic bands to hold stuff secure. This is probably over kill of a bag but can’t say it won’t hold anything they need to put in it.
When in doubt – there is no shame in gift-cards.
Michaels or Home Depot were commonly suggested locations. Also Some art supply stores do online gift cards so you don’t have to physically find them to purchase them.
But double check if the stores you have in mind are in that area or take online gift cards just to be sure.
In conclusion – I hope this helped or at least amused. Feel free to use them as guide lines or suggestions instead of hard rules.