Art supplies (from art shops not discount stores) are expensive. And if you’re a prolific painter or illustrator then you’ll frequently run out of said items (and usually right before you REALLY need them. Thank you serendipitous deadlines..grrr..)
Materials can dwindle quickly in our commercial studio of 20 designers. And, like you, we’re on a budget. So, if there’s anything we can do to get the absolute most out of a tube of paint, brush or pad of paper, we will! Here’s how we rein in our monthly art supply spend:
Reactivate dried paints
Unlike acrylic or oil based paints, when a blob of gouache or watercolour dries on your palette, you can use it again! Just wet it with a little water and watch it liquify once more. So save your unfinished palettes post project (just cover with a little cling wrap to protect it from getting dusty between uses).
Access the dregs
Squeezed as much as you can from that tube of gouache? Snip off the top and get the last bits at the bottom. As above, you can use it even if it’s dried out.
Maintain their shape
A brush is only as good as the condition it’s in. Senior designer Ange will gently slap your wrist if she sees one left upside down in the water jar. Even mid-job it can curl the brush tip and make it more difficult to paint a perfectly straight, neat line. It takes a while to re-train yourself to place the brush on the table rather than back in the jar, but it’s worth it.
Recycle, reuse, rework
This one’s obvious but easy to forget. Use the back of scrap paper as testing paper. Get it from unwanted print outs and unused or slightly damaged papers on pads.
Speaking of paper pads, oftentimes the cover is the same quality stock as the contents and you can use the back side for finished work. Just check that there’s no real show-through and the graphics of the cover won’t be visible in your scan.
Hating on a painting? Punch holes into it to make confetti or cut it into other shapes you might use as part of a collage.
Perhaps there’s a section that you like. Scan just that bit to use in future designs.
Get some watercolour painting inspiration and more great tips from Senior Designer, Ange.
Or check out the art supplies and brands we use.