Being an artist can be expensive especially if you’re using good quality products. I spend hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars since I started my artistic journey in 2011. Even though I spent a lot of money, I always made sure that I’m saving wherever I can.  I still feel as I could save more money using the tips below and hope you’ll be able to use them effectively.
Here are 7 effective ways to save money, especially as a beginner artist.

1. Sign up for your Store’s Promotions-

First way to save money is by looking for sales. My favorite store is Blick Art Materials and I signed up to get their discounts. They always have discounts and promotions for everything that I need. I registered for other store’s coupons as well but they usually more expensive. I only buy from other stores if there’s a good coupon and it’s cheaper than Blick or Amazon.

2. Make a list-

Just as you’re making a grocery list, create a list for your art materials. Write everything you want to buy- brushes, paint, canvases, sketchbook, pencils, mediums, and more. Buying all of them at once will be a huge expense, especially if you’re buying good quality products. 

Creating a list allows you to focus on it and save money. You only buy what you need (not what’s on sale) and decide which product to buy depending on your budget and urgent.

I would recommend organizing the products from the most urgent to the least. With time you will keep modifying this list to your own personal preferences.

3. Be Patience-

Art is an expensive business! If you want to use good products and hopefully sell your art in the future, you will pay a lot of money for the materials you use. Depending on your niche and style, the costs can vary drastically, but it still quite expensive. Especially as a beginner artist, you can’t jump and buy everything. It takes time to collect a variety of art supply, and I can guarantee you, you’ll always need more supply.

My tip for you is to be patient, you created your list and now you know exactly what you want and need. Every now and then buy another item from your list. If you have extra money to waste, there’s a great deal in your store, or maybe for a birthday/holiday gift. With time you’ll see that you’ve collected a solid amount of materials. 

Remember that art products can last for a long period of time. I have a watercolor set that I bought 4 years ago that I’m still using and oil paint tubes that I used for over 3 years. 

4. Mixing your Own Colors-

No matter if you’re a professional or a beginner artist, this tip will help you save a lot of money. You don’t need a variety of colors. You can easily create most of your colors from 5 basic colors: Titanium White, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red, Cobalt Blu, and Cadmium Yellow. These basic colors are perfect for skin tones and most of the colors you’ll use. You can buy unique colors that you can’t mix with time, but overall, these 5 colors will be more than enough for you beginning and even as a professional artist. 

5. DIY Art Organizers-

Probably the easiest way to save money. You don’t have to buy anything. Use empty jars to store your brushes and different mediums. You can paint them if you like and decorate them in a way that suits you.

Another way is by using old boxes for storage. I have a few metal boxes and old shoe boxes that I use to store my pencils, stickers, markers, and even paint. Again, you can paint and decorate them as you like. You can even create a paint tube organizer by yourself! These things will save you a lot of money! There are thousands of DIY for organizers and storage units that you can easily apply in your studio. 

Pro tip- If you’re painting with oils or acrylic, you can create your own glass palette with only 4 materials: Foam Board (1 dollar from Dollar Tree), white/grey paper (also from Dollar Tree), Glass sheet- around ($4-6 in different stores), and duct tape ($3 from Target). Glass palette is usually $30-40, and you can create your own easily with $10. 

6. Don’t get Sucked into Sets-

Sets don’t always cheaper. If you want to try a new style and medium, you should focus on the main colors. For paint, I’d focus on the 5 basic colors that I mentioned above and with markers/ pens, I would focus on the main sizes. The problem with sets is that we’re buying products that we don’t need. 5 years ago I bought oil paint set and didn’t use most of its colors. It would have been cheaper for me to buy only the paint that I needed. 

Side note- sometimes sets can be cheaper and more recommended at your first buy. Later on, it becomes cheaper to buy only the paint/ products that you’re constantly using.  

For example- I use Micron Pens for my sketches and I have a set of 10 different sizes. I frequently use 3-4 sizes and the rest are rarely used. The ones that I’m constantly using end faster and when I need to buy, I buy the specific size. Same with my oil paint. I bought a set a few years ago, the basic colors were long gone and now I but bigger tubes only of the colors that I use. 

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7. Plan Ahead-

Some things last longer than others. For me, sketching pens last for 6 months to a year, some of my markers and watercolors stays with me for over 4 years, and some mediums such as Gamsol last only 3-6 months. It depends on how much you’re using the product and its size. 

For oil paint- I buy larger tubes of white (6.8 oz/ 200 ml) while Red, Blue, Yellow, and Brown are 2 oz (60ml) and my set/ other colors are around 1.25 oz (37ml). I do it because it will cost me more to buy 5 tubes of 1.25 oz white than 1 tube of 6.8 oz. 

When you use mediums it’s the same thing- I have a small glazing bottle (2.5 oz) while my Gamsol is 16.9 oz (and I’m buying it more frequently than the glazing). 

My point is, when you plan ahead and knows exactly which products you use more frequently, you can save money. 

Another benefit of planning ahead is by keeping track of sales and prices. Canvases cost a lot of money. I rarely buy them without sales. I buy good quality canvases and their regular price vary from $40 to $160 without discounts. I like to plan ahead and when I have 2 canvases left, I keep an eye on the discounts. I usually buy them in 40-80% off! 

Even though art can be an expensive business, it is possible to save money!

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