Recently a creative friend of mine stated that it's best to use cheap art supplies when you're just starting out. Her reasoning was that you'll feel free to experiment and that you can always buy quality supplies later. Now while I agree that you shouldn't let anything keep you from starting, I don't agree with that statement. And while I respect her, I feel that's bad advice. And so since it's my blog, I get share what I think! :)
First I should say that when I use the word 'cheap' in this post, I mean supplies that are less expensive but are also of poor quality. Usually the biggest quality issue is that they have much less pigment. Less expensive doesn't always mean poor quality so I'm calling these supplies 'cheap' instead.
My experience is that using cheap supplies leads to frustration and disappointment. For example, if your only experience with watercolor is a cheap 8-color set from grade school and copy paper, then you probably think you aren't good at watercolor. If you've had the chance to try tube watercolor or a better quality pan set, then you know there's quite a difference. If you've ever used Arches or Rives paper then you know the HUGE difference that paper makes. Maybe you are "good" at watercolor, you just never used supplies that helped you be successful.
One of my mantras is to set yourself up for success. Using cheap supplies is not setting yourself up to succeed. Cheap supplies are setting you up to fail. You may get good results at times but it will be inconsistent and difficult to recreate.
But Crystal I can't afford expensive supplies!
I hear ya! I can't either. That's the thing. Quality doesn't always mean expensive. A good example is Crayola markers. Crayola is not an expensive brand. They certainly aren't professional markers but they have good pigment and are a quality product.
Tom DesLongchamp calls himself "serious artist that draws people with Crayola markers."
That's a pretty amazing portrait using supplies that cost less than $5.
I asked the year of creative habits Facebook group for other examples of inexpensive but quality supplies. Here's a couple of their suggestions...
- micron pens
- Sakura Koi watercolors
I'd add Sakura Koi brush pens. I bought a set of those a few months ago and I love them.
Many of us in the group spend a little more on the pigment--acrylic, watercolor, etc.--but then use cheaper brushes. Or we go with the house (art supply company) brand to save a little money. For my Fursday paintings, I use Dick Blick wood panels, cheap brushes and then I spend more on the paints--Acryla gouache. I have just a handful of expensive brushes that were bought on sale. I think there are supplies to save on and supplies to splurge on. And it's probably a matter of preference as to which.
Overall be careful with cutting corners on supplies. Ask around. What brand such-and-such do use? Can you recommend a starter set? Most people aren't using top-of-the-line products but they aren't getting them from Target either. If you are going to experiment with new media, set yourself up for success from the very beginning.