Sunday, March 09, 2008

Supply source

charcoal, conte, pen & ink
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I justify my stash of art supplies by the fact that I live on an island and have problems accessing some of what may be basic art supplies to others who may find them in an easy trip to a local art store. Yes, I can find the basics here and the variety is growing, but then I read about or see other types of paper, paints, pens, etc. online or when I travel and I realize that there is a void in my supply source locally.

I use mail order a lot to get art supplies, both in Canada and the USA or when I travel, I do my homework beforehand to make sure I know where the best art supply stores are and ensure that I'm within easy distance of getting to them.

There are challenges in shopping online. I can't soak up the atmosphere of the store. I can't browse and touch and see the supplies. I can't touch the paper to feel its weight. I have to trust the colour on my monitor not my eyes when choosing paints, coloured pencils or pastels. I have no impulse purchases, no bargain bins, I don't see the 'specials'.

With the Canadian/US dollar being pretty much on par now, I can can cross border shop more easily, but savings are often negated by shipping, duties, and brokerage fees. However, the USA often has supplies that I just can't access in Canada. Or not at a price I want to pay in Canada. So I usually do some American shopping a couple of times a year and suck up the fees that go along with it just to enable myself to access a wider variety of supplies.

I have a number of art supply stores that I mail order from and the list could be endless if I had the time to track them all down. But I wonder where are the REALLY good ones? Where are those little backstreet gems that you whisper about to others as you don't want to spread the word too far in case the exclusivity you've created becomes the norm?

Its time to share what you know with others.

  • Where is the art supply store that you frequent locally?
  • What is your online source for art supplies?
  • What makes them unique and what keeps you going back?
  • Do you have a wish list of art supply stores anywhere in the world that you'd like to explore?
I have some of the sources that I use on my Squidoo lens, but that will be growing as I find more and explore their possibilities.


Laurel Neustadter said...

I use Dick Blick when I shop online and Asel Art Supplies when I shop locally in Dallas. I prefer shopping online, though. Recently Dick Blick was out of Rising Museum Board so I purchased precut board from Talas, a store in New York city. They gave good service but shipping was pretty expensive. Here is the Talas link:

Robyn said...

I would love to explore Pearl Paint in New York. I have a favourite art shops in both Florence (Zecchi) and Rome (Ditta G. Poggi) and while they have an excellent range of traditional materials they are never up with the latest fad. Of course it is the fads I'm usually after ;)

I also use a little art shop in Arezzo which has a nice atmosphere and extremely high prices.

I have shopped on line but postage to Italy is usually huge and the parcel can take a couple of months to arrive. :(

Like you, my joy is sniffing around a shop and discovering all sorts of treasures.

Very much enjoying your charcoal drawings on coloured paper.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I have a list of art shops I want to go to in New York - I think Robyn and I should have a day trip! ;)

San Clemente Art Supply store - in San Clemente is ace! Details on ,y blog and my Art Supplies in the USA squidoo lens. This also includes recommendations from other people

Jan said...

I'm with you in preferring to browse art stores but living in the boonies is just about like living on an island so I mail order most of my supplies.

My favorite online sources are:

I have also ordered from:

and have recently found another source to try although I haven't done it yet:

It seems that each store has it's own quirks and pluses & I usually compare prices with shipping costs at each of them. Some of them even have certain items that other stores don't so it pays to look/browse even online.

The only two brick & mortar stores even half-way close by are Hobby Lobby and Michaels but each are about 30 miles from us but in opposite directions! Neither carries much in the way of artist's quality supplies so it's just easier to mail-order supplies. Plus, taking your time with the inevitable catalogs that you receive in the mail is almost as much fun as shopping in a store!