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Are you looking for a great store to buy your art supplies from?
Don’t worry, I’ve gotcha covered! After several years of studying and producing art, you definitely figure out where the best providers are. An added plus, I’ve traveled and moved around a LOT, so I have a pretty good idea of chains to choose from.
Here’s the reality.
Some stores are really good for certain items, and really bad for others. When it comes to professional art supplies, there’s a distinct line between art and crafting.
Before I get into my list, I want to explain the important distinction between art & craft supplies, and professional art supplies. Now, don’t get offended if you are artsy and love crafting. I actually love crafting. In this post, I’m referring to art supplies typically recommended by academia and the art community. If you go to a university or college, they’re probably going to recommend – or even require – these brands and materials. Being a professional artist signifies that you use high-quality materials, and that reflects the effort and care you put in to your work. Bottom line, you want to look good! And not just on the surface. You want to truly have quality, lasting materials that make you stand out as an artist.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the top art supplies, and which stores to get them at.
But! I am going to start of with a schpeel about where NOT to buy your art supplies. Remember what I just mentioned about image? Well, as artists, we are literally creating an image. And you don’t want to give the wrong image by using cheap materials to produce your works. So here’s my two cents!
Where NOT To Buy Professional Art Supplies
Hobby Lobby. Michael’s. Joanns. Walmart. Target. The grocery store.
And heaven forbid, the dollar store. OH my word, if you are buying your art supplies at the dollar store…I’m not even going to go there. Anyways.
Yeah, Hobby Lobby. Awesome store! Hobby Lobby is a great store for crafting. I love crafting. I love going to Hobby Lobby and using my 40% off coupon for crafting. Crafting is great for home décor projects and DIY and my latest Pinterest endeavor. CRAFTING.
Do not go to Hobby Lobby and buy their watercolor kits, or their two-pack canvases that are 30% off, or a brand like “Artist’s Touch”. Have you seen the movie Over the Hedge? Well that cookie’s JUNK! Yeah, it’s like that. You can find much better supplies at an art supply store, for a great price!
If price is holding you back from getting the right stuff, I plead that you reconsider.
It is 100% true that being an artist is not cheap! Art supplies aren’t cheap! But like any other product, you get what you pay for. Two lessons here.
- Buying the right products is worth it.
- If you think you’re paying too much, you’re probably shopping in the wrong place.
So. Skip the art isles at Hobby Lobby, and head over to one of these awesome art supply stores.
Same goes for any other craft or department store. Those are not good quality!! Cheap brands water down their paints – so you’re actually getting less for your money. Sad! And if you do find good quality brands (Hobby Lobby does carry Liquitex, my favorite acrylic paints), I guarantee you’ll be paying way too much for them.
Please don’t shop at Hobby Lobby for professional art supplies. Michael’s is the same story. Yes, they’ll have a decent selection, but honestly the price is higher than an art supply store.
Don’t be too upset if you do shop at these stores, because guess what? There is a whole new world out there for you to discover! Also? Here’s your chance to really amp up your work. I promise you’ll love these materials. It’s so worth it to shop at art supply stores. And yes, they have great sales too.
(Oh, and if you love crafting, by all means keep crafting. And get your crafting supplies from Hobby Lobby. It’s like Costco for craft supplies.)
So Where Do I Buy Art Supplies Then?
I’ll tell you.
Also, I’m super excited to tell you. Because I love art supplies.
#1 Blick Art
Blick is the best in the Portland area for art supplies. There’s one downtown near the university, and there’s one out west in Beaverton. You can also buy stuff online. Sign up for their “VIP” club so you can get their discounts. Blick has locations all over. Check their website (or google maps) to see if there’s one near you!
#2 Jerry’s Art-A-Rama
Back when I was going to school in Austin, this was the place to go. Another great thing about specialized art supply stores? The employees are awesome. They really know what they’re talking about, and know where to find everything. They’re almost always artists themselves, so they know their materials.
#3 Utrecht Art
If you search for locations, they’ll actually show you Blick stores, but this is another great site that sells the right supplies.
#4 Straight to the Source
You can buy basically anything online, so a great way to find supplies is to go straight to the source. Here’s a list of my favorite brands and what they specialize in. Their websites also have a feature to find a store that carries their brand. Also, you can check Amazon. Amazon has literally everything, but you’ll have to be specific in your search to find the exact item you want.
Acrylic paints and mediums
I love Liquitex. I typically paint with acrylics, and I use Liquitex paints. I recommend their Professional Heavy Body acrylics. My favorite medium is their Matte Gel . They have gloss gel as well, but I prefer the matte.
Golden Heavy Body Acrylics are another great choice of acrylic paints.
Browse through Blick’s selection of acrylic paints.
Oil paints and mediums
My favorite medium is Cold Wax. It’s like butter! So great for thickening your paint. If you like painting with texture, you’ll love it too. They have several other mediums you can try. If you use their paints, add their Gamsol (Odorless Mineral Spirits) to your shopping cart.
Browse through Blick’s selection of oil paints.
Pencils and markers
I think Prismacolor has some of the best drawing materials, and they have a huge selection. Colored pencils, fine tip markers, brush markers, you name it. Check out some of Blick’s selection of colored pencils and such.
A Few More Products
If you’re getting drawing paper, Canson has great selection and quality.
Blick is where I go to buy high-quality canvas (Jerry’s has it too). You’ll want to get the #12 cotton canvas. It comes in different sized packages or rolls, primed or unprimed. I get unprimed because I use acrylic paints, and prefer the raw material.
You can buy any art supply you need from Blick or Jerry’s.
They have a huge selection of brushes, paints, mediums, paper, canvases… They also have supplies for other disciplines, like ceramics and printmaking.
Blick is an excellent store. They have great prices, and awesome back-to-school sales. That’s the best time to buy supplies, honestly. When you make your trip, take some time to browse the isles. They have some cool stuff! You might find a few (or a lot, if you’re like me) things you want to try! Also, I love Blick a little more because I’m an affliate, so if you purchase from them through my links I get a bit of commission! It’s just one of the ways I earn a living and keep my business going, so your support is much appreciated 🙂
For wood or construction supplies (like for building your own frames), my first choice is Lowe’s.
Well, that’s my list!
Thanks for perusing this post, and I hope I helped you find a great store! One last tip: check their websites for sales!
Happy shopping 🙂
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Got Any More Stores You Like?
I’d love to hear about them! I’m always open to finding new art supply stores, especially if the ones on my list aren’t in your area. Leave me a note in the comments, and I might even add it to my list!
This post has some affiliate links. I like to promote my favorite brands, like Blick, and in return, I get a bit of commission. Help support me and my business by purchasing from these stores through my links!