09 – Are you an Art Supply Addict? (The Answer is Yes!)
Are You an Art Supply Addict?

Laura and Nikki admit their art supply addiction, talk about some of their favorite supplies, discuss how to deal with supply overwhelm, and commit to embarrassing themselves with photos of their ridiculous collections! They give some advice they really need to learn to take themselves.

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE ON:

Topics discussed

  • Laura and Nikki admit to being art supply addicts (0:50)
  • Laura talks about Copic markers and her obsession with color (1:49)
  • Nikki talks about her book addiction (3:28)
  • Nikki and Laura list some of their personal favorite supplies (5:29)
  • Travel brushes, watercolor, and urban sketching (9:47)
  • iPads and Apple Pencil (12:05)
  • Nikki talks about her love of encaustic tools and supplies (13:52)
  • Laura’s favorite acrylic paint (17:55)
  • Nikki and Laura discuss sketchbooks (18:47)
  • Culling, selling, or donating supplies (20:37)
  • How to use your existing stash and avoid overwhelm (24:59)

laura and nikki’s sketchbooks

Laura’s Watercolor Sketchbook

Nikki’s 2017 365 Day Project Sketchbook

#365accordionproject

nikki and laura’s addictions

Laura’s Empty Sketchbooks (top) and Full (Organized) Bookshelves (bottom)

Laura's Copic Box

Laura’s Ridiculously Organized Box of Copic Markers

Laura

Nikki’s Full (Chaotic) Bookshelves (top) and Empty Sketchbooks (bottom)

Nikki
Nikki

Laura

0:07
Hi, this is Laura

Nikki

0:08
And this is Nikki with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way, and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:17
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keeps you stuck.

Nikki

0:31
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Nikki

0:39
So, Laura, what are we talking about today?

Laura

0:42
Today we are talking about art supply addiction.

Nikki

0:47
Oh, that’s a big one.

Laura

0:50
In fact, I think that you and I can both join Art Supply Addicts Anonymous, because I think we’re at the top of the addict spectrum on this one.

Nikki

1:00
I’ve seen your place and I can attest to it. It is absolutely true. You haven’t seen my place yet, so you’re just gonna have to take my word for it.

Laura

1:10
I will. But yes, you’ve seen mine. And you understand I think I have at Michael’s store, a Dick Blick store… all of it’s in my house.

Nikki

1:18
Right? Right.

Nikki

1:20
But you have a very well organized addiction, you have stacks of bins of like products organized very well. And you know where to find everything. Mine is just random piles of utter chaos.

Laura

1:40
Plastic storage might be my middle name. I have a lot of it. I always say that there are way worse things to be addicted to than art supplies.

Nikki

1:48
Definitely.

Laura

1:49
But really, how many types of watercolor does one person need do own? I mean, pans? Check. Tubes? Check. Pencils? Check. Yes, three types of pencils, mind you. And…

Nikki

2:00
Wait, wait, wait, only three?

Laura

2:02
Well, this is only watercolor pencils. There are many other types of pencils. Let’s be clear. So you never know if one brand’s magenta might just be slightly different than the other brand. And so you might as well buy them both.

Nikki

2:15
You may have a problem.

Laura

2:18
Well, this addiction goes hand in hand, I think with color addiction. I mean, there are 358 colors of Copic Markers. And I must have them all. I mean, why do we get so fascinated by the rainbow spectrum? And what is it that keeps us searching for the next thing that’s going to magically take our art to the next level?

Nikki

2:41
Well, now I don’t know because I probably have 50 different kinds of black pen. I don’t have the rainbow addiction. I have the addiction…

Laura

2:55
But not rainbow.

Nikki

2:56
But it’s not rainbow. In fact, really the only color in my art is digital. But when I’m pen on paper, it’s almost always black.

Laura

3:06
Wow. So for me, I am addicted to quinacridone magenta. I am addicted to teal. I’m addicted to nickel azo gold. These are all beautiful colors of paint and watercolor. I’m addicted to indigo. Opera pink, oh my gosh, I’m so addicted to opera pink.

Nikki

3:28
Okay, okay…I’m going to stop you before we list every single color that’s in existence. And I’m going to say really, although I’m not as addicted to color as you are, the same could really be said about books. Sketchbooks, technique books. Any kind of book an artist wrote is probably on my shelf. Don’t even get me started about how many blank sketchbooks I have on my shelves.

Laura

4:00
Yeah, I think I have 50 so just to make you feel a little bit better about yourself.

Nikki

4:04
Only 50? I’m gonna have to put a photo in the show notes of all the books that I am surrounded with on my bookshelves right now.

Laura

4:15
I think we both need to put embarrassing photos into the show notes.

Nikki

4:18
I’m okay with that.

Laura

4:19
I’ll commit to doing that too. It’s pretty bad.

Nikki

4:21
I’m okay with us embarrassing ourselves.

Laura

4:25
We do it on a regular basis.

Nikki

4:27
Right and it’s not just art supplies. It’s not just books, courses, fonts. How many procreate brushes do you have?

Laura

4:36
A few. Okay, I just have to say anything that Lisa Glanz puts out I have to buy immediately because she’s so phenomenal. Anybody who doesn’t follow Glanz Graphics, you gotta check her out, her stuff is so amazing. And yeah, so I do buy a lot but funny enough, I don’t use them all. I mean, I have them there. I don’t use them all.

Nikki

4:57
Right. I’ve I’ve actually bought…not quite as many as you have, but I’ve acquired a few. And really, I use one. And it’s one of the ones that’s built right into Procreate, and it’s the technical pen, which is exactly how I draw when I draw on pen and ink on paper. I use one Uniball Signo pen.

Laura

5:19
Yeah, so the technical pens kind of like a Micron pen, right?

Nikki

5:22
Right.

Laura

5:24
So why don’t you share with me what your favorite art supplies are. So black pens, we’ve got that down.

Nikki

5:29
Right, but it’s not just any black pen. It’s a very specific black pen. It is the Uniball Signo. And there are two sizes that I love. It’s a .38 and a .28, the finer, the better, and the finer one you can only get from Japan.

Laura

5:50
I’ve done a few orders from Japan. I get it.

Nikki

5:53
Right, right. So I am in love with the Uniball Signo. My other favorite art supplies are a Moleskine Japanese album, the accordion fold sketchbook. It comes in a pocket size, that’s like 3×5 and it comes in like a 5 1/2×8, I think, size. And those are, those are amazing, because you can do just one continuous drawing for months and months.

Laura

6:25
You showed me one you showed me one of yours that had black and white, it had women and gardens and florals and botanical…

Nikki

6:32
Oh, there’s not just one.

Laura

6:34
Oh, wow.

Nikki

6:34
As I said in Episode 7, when we talked about art challenges, I actually filled five or six of them. I may be a little bit obsessive.

Laura

6:44
You? Never.

Nikki

6:45
No, never.

Laura

6:48
So my favorite art supplies, I am a huge fan of Copic Markers. You know, I’ve been teaching copic classes for over 10 years now.

Nikki

6:57
Tell me about Copic Markers because I’ve never used them.

Laura

7:00
So what I love about Copic markers, they are an alcohol based marker, which means they dry rather quickly. The Copic ink pushes around and blends seamlessly, which is very different than, let’s say, than a water based marker that will leave a lot of streaks. I mean, there are times when you might like to have that in your art, right that texture. But what’s great about the Copic markers is you can get this really smooth, blended gradient and create gorgeous, gorgeous color. So people love to use it in the comic book world, you know, in manga. In those types of illustrations and drawings. I use them in my own classes that I teach with digital stamps. And we normally do greeting card designs, we do one a month all together on zoom, which is super fun. And I’m also working on making some offerings available online in the future that people can take whenever they want. But I just absolutely love these markers, because they do come in the spectrum of the rainbow and you learn all about color layering. And it’s just so fun. Because you can sit in front of the TV and do it, you know, it’s not super messy.

Nikki

8:10
But I want to know how many you have.

Laura

8:14
I have them all! And I have a special case for them that’s nice and organized, where they all fit inside. It’s kind of beautiful.

Nikki

8:23
Of course you do.

Laura

8:24
I might have to give you a photo to share.

Nikki

8:26
A little OCD about that maybe.

Laura

8:28
Just a little bit. Now when it comes to other mediums, I love watercolor. And I do think that it’s important, when you can, to purchase fewer art supplies that are of higher quality. And I think if anybody could have given me advice years ago, I kind of wish they would have said that to me because I went out and bought everything that I could find that was in my price range at the time to have like the most colors and the most things, when in reality I could have done with a lot less but just having it be higher quality. So I’m a big fan of Arches 100% cotton watercolor paper, I think it’s beautiful. I love the cold press. I love, love, love Rosemary & Co. brushes. This is a British company, you might be able to find them in some art shops where they might be sold somewhere in the United States, for example, but I order them online, and they make more than just watercolor brushes. But their watercolor brushes are fantastic. And they make a particular one that’s a round sable brush that is a travel brush. And what I particularly love about the travel brushes is that they have a metal protective cover on them. Have you seen those Nikki?

Nikki

9:45
Yeah, I’ve seen them.

Laura

9:47
They basically come apart and you can store the half with the brush inside of the metal handle. And that way when you travel, you can protect that expensive brush tip that you just spent a chunk of change on.

Nikki

9:58
So speaking of travel brushes. How do you feel about the the watercolor brushes that hold water? Have you used those?

Laura

10:08
I like those, I like those. I’ve used those in classes before in watercolor classes that I’ve taught. And I think they can be great. It’s a cheap way to, to dive into watercolor. And they do make sense if you’re out doing urban sketching, for example. And for those that aren’t familiar with urban sketching, we’ll put a link to the the Urban Skechers group in the show notes. But, that’s where people go out into the world and draw what they see they draw architecture, they might draw the the coffee you’re having that morning at the cafe, you know, it’s just getting out…

Nikki

10:41
Or the building across the street from you.

Laura

10:43
Exactly. And so with that, not having to have water with you, like a tub of water is really essential. So when you’re traveling, that’s super useful to be able to have. I also use a collapsible one that I really like, it’s a cup for watercolor that you can collapse down. And then you can just go to the restroom and fill it up. You know, when you’re out and about somewhere.

Nikki

11:04
That’s cool.

Laura

11:05
I love Daniel Smith watercolor paints. Because, I mean, you can paint with amethyst for heaven’s sake.

Nikki

11:15
So I’m not a big watercolor person. But again, as I talked about in the challenge episode, I have these Fabriano watercolor cards, basically, that they’re not heavy duty enough for some serious watercolor painting, but they’re great for drawing and light washes. So what I did, when I did all my nude drawings was the pen and ink drawings on the paper. And then I just added a little bit of watercolor, probably using those brushes that hold water. And just added a little light wash of color here and there.

Laura

11:54
Well, sometimes just a hint of it is really nice.

Nikki

11:56
It got me kind of excited about learning to do more watercolor. Which one of these days I’ll do.

Laura

12:03
Well, now you know what supplies to buy, when you’re ready.

Nikki

12:05
I do! I’ll just refer back to your list. So one of the other things that we both truly share a passion for in our art supplies is our iPads and Apple pencils.

Laura

12:19
Oh my gosh, I cannot live without my iPad Pro and my Apple Pencil.

Nikki

12:25
Well, I probably could. But why would I want to.

Laura

12:31
When I started out… and it’s sort of ironic, right? Because I have an entire condo that’s full of art supplies, like not just a few like thousands of dollars worth of art supplies. And yet I spend 90% of my time on my iPad.

Nikki

12:45
Same same.

Laura

12:47
But I love it because it’s so easy to take with you. They’ve built it in such a way now with apps like Procreate. And, you know, that could be another episode of where I think we will talk just about all of the different apps that we love and the different tools that we use. But there’s some amazing apps that can mimic real paint, it can mimic things like it’ll look like you just did a watercolor painting and you did it digitally… with a pencil and this iPad. You can take it on a plane. In fact, I did half of my portrait challenges on planes. And I think I entertained half the plane because they couldn’t figure out what the heck I was doing. So it definitely is an amazing tool to have. And it also syncs so nicely with your computer so that if you are working on surface pattern design and maybe you want to work on Adobe Illustrator, you can actually just take something from your iPad and shift it over to Adobe Illustrator in about five seconds. So what other mediums do you enjoy working with Nikki?

Nikki

13:52
Well my other really big love which sadly, as I talked about before, is on the back burner for now is encaustic and I know a lot of people don’t know what encaustic is. So I’ll give you a little brief description. Encaustic is a painting medium that’s made out of beeswax. I know you’ve done some of it in the past, Laura, but you’re not currently doing it.

Laura

14:20
Right I did it about 10 years ago before I got a dog who wanted to stick his nose in the hot wax all the time.

Nikki

14:26
Oh yeah, well I just tell people when they buy an encaustic piece that the cat hair is free. But anyway, so encaustic is a painting medium that the actual medium is beeswax and damar resin crystals which come from pine trees. So like with watercolor…the medium is water, oil paints… the medium is linseed oil, usually. With encaustic… the medium is beeswax. But unlike other painting mediums, you paint with it when it’s molten, you heat it up and you paint with it when it’s liquid, and then it cools instead of dries. So it’s very different from any other kind of medium. And it’s got its own set of challenges. And it’s fun. And it also can act as a collage medium, you can embed things into the wax. You can paint with it, like it’s any other kind of painting medium. You can transfer images onto the surface, and you can be smooth or textural. It’s just brilliant.

Laura

15:36
Yeah, the the texture of it is what I was really attracted to as well as the transparency.

Nikki

15:42
The transparency is amazing.

Laura

15:44
You can have layers and layers and layers of work that you can see through that is really amazing. But you do need to work in a very well ventilated space to be able to do it

Nikki

15:54
Maybe we’ll do a whole episode on encaustics since it’s something we’re both so knowledgeable on and I’m still obsessed with. But anyway, my favorite materials for working with encaustic are R&F Paints, encaustic medium. They have beautiful, beautiful, beautiful paint colors, but I tend to not work with a lot of color in encaustic. 

Laura

16:20
Of course.

Nikki

16:20
Of course. And yet, if you look at the work I’m doing on my iPad, it’s very, very colorful, but I have many sides to me.

Nikki

16:31
We all do.

Nikki

16:32
Yes, we do. But anyway, so R&F encaustic medium is my favorite. In fact, R&F Paints out of Kingston, New York. They’re the first makers of encaustic paint in the modern world. And that’s where I learned how to do encaustic I took a workshop up there. I’ve taken a couple of workshops from them.

Laura

16:54
Their paints are like butter, they are amazing.

Nikki

16:56
They are, they’re amazing. Hi, Richard! My other favorite encaustic tool is Paula Roland’s hotbox. And it’s a box. So Paula Roland, kind of is the queen of encaustic monotypes. And she’s created this wooden box that is lit by, it’s heated by actual light bulbs inside and has an anodized aluminum top that you use to melt your wax, to melt your paint on a beautifully even surface. You can use it to do monoprints, which is what she developed it for. But it’s also just a great tool for melting your wax and working with it.

Laura

17:45
Cool. And the fact that it just uses light bulbs is pretty awesome too.

Nikki

17:48
Yeah, it’s amazing. It just uses 100 watt light bulbs to to heat it up. So that’s another one of my favorite supplies.

Laura

17:55
So I also am a big fan of acrylic paint. And the Golden acrylic paints to me are so wonderful. The pigment load on them is so high. And they have a fluid one that has all of this color, but it has a consistency that’s thinner, so that you can get this beautiful transparency by layering the colors on top of each other. And that to me is exquisite. The other thing I wanted to mention is when it comes to traveling, if you ever want to travel with a small art kit, especially for things like urban sketching, I really like the Moleskine journals, too. I have the watercolor Moleskine journals, I think they’re somewhat similar to the accordion fold ones that you’ve used in the past Nikki.

Nikki

18:43
Yeah, I have some other watercolor ones too. Of course I do.

Laura

18:47
Of course you do. And so I’ve really enjoyed doing my own work in those. And there’s the satisfaction you get when you complete one. And let’s be clear, I’ve only completed like 2% of the ones I own.

Nikki

19:01
I have so many sketchbooks that are about half full.

Laura

19:06
Why do we do that? We start one sketchbook, and then two drawings in… we move to the next one.

Nikki

19:12
Well, because A. we have that shiny object syndrome and the new one must be better. Right? And then we have that thing where we start things and don’t finish them. So then we feel like when we start again, we need to start over. So we should challenge ourselves to finish all our old sketchbooks.

Laura

19:34
I think that would be a good plan.

Nikki

19:35
Yeah.

Laura

19:36
I finished a couple of them in the last year. And it is really satisfying to be able to flip through and look at the whole thing. In fact, I think it would be really fun to show a video of one of our completed ones and show everyone.

Nikki

19:50
Let’s do that.

Laura

19:51
So we’ll add that.

Nikki

19:52
Yeah, let’s do that. So, what are our takeaways from this episode? I mean, we could go on and on and on about all the art supplies we have, because I’m sitting, I’m recording this in my studio right now. And then I realized, gosh, I haven’t even talked about my Glowforge, which is a laser engraver. But we’ll save that for another time.

Laura

20:17
I think that there are a few takeaways. And one of the things that I’m personally doing is realizing how much that I already have. And, and I love it all. But for those of you that know, KonMari, and the whole thing about sparking joy, all of it sparks joy for me.

Nikki

20:35
All of it?

Laura

20:37
Pretty much all of it is. What I do. Every year, I go through and cull out what I’m not super attached to anymore, and I have a garage sale. And so when I have that garage sale, I’m able to give a little bit away every year that I wasn’t willing to give away the year before. But the problem is, is the amount of things that come in, versus the amount of things that go out is never equal. You know which direction it is, right?

Nikki

21:06
Oh, I do. But the good news here is everything that you’re buying?

Laura

21:11
Uh huh.

Nikki

21:11
Is a tax write off.

Laura

21:16
I’m running with that excuse. And using that moving forward.

Nikki

21:19
It’s not an excuse. It’s fact. There’s no question there. So that’s a great idea. And that brings me to something that I’ve been, I’ve been wanting to do. Well, okay, so there’s two things in culling your supplies and trying to narrow it down and not accumulate all of them… you can donate, and you can sell. So one thing that I did last year was I put a big box together of supplies that I knew that I wasn’t going to use, and I donated it to our local Easter Seals art program. So you can find places, there’s places all over that would welcome your donated art supplies, your local schools, women’s shelters, YMCA, a community center, a preschool. Really any place that has kids or adults that…

Laura

22:13
What a great idea.

Nikki

22:14
Yeah.

Laura

22:15
You know, at the end of the garage sale that I had last year, I did donate the remainder to an arts association. And then they were able to use those supplies. So for me knowing that it’s going to go to a good home makes it easier.

Nikki

22:30
Yes, definitely.

Laura

22:32
Just knowing somebody else is going to appreciate it with the passion that I appreciated when I first bought it.

Nikki

22:38
And then the other thing that I’ve wanted to do, which I was planning to do, and then we had this little global pandemic pop up.

Nikki

22:48
Oh, that thing.

Nikki

22:49
That thing. I wanted to have a studio sale where I invited people into my studio, and I sold extra artwork that I have that didn’t quite fit into a collection, or just was remaining from past sales and art supplies that I accumulated for a technique I got excited about, but then never followed through on. And so that’s still a great idea to have a studio sale.

Laura

23:25
I think it’s a great idea I think you should do one this year, when we’re able to do these things again.

Nikki

23:29
Yes, that’s the plan.

Laura

23:31
We talked about having quality over quantity and how that’s important. But I also think you shouldn’t let that stop you from just getting started creating in something and using what you have available. I have seen phenomenal lettering artwork made with Crayola markers. Like, you know, probably I don’t know how much Crayola markers cost.

Nikki

23:53
So wait, you don’t actually need the best of everything.

Laura

23:57
You don’t you actually don’t need the top best of everything. Now, is it more convenient? And potentially can you have better results? Yes. But we also shouldn’t fool ourselves that just by buying the most expensive thing, our artwork is magically going to get better.

Nikki

24:11
Right. Right

Laura

24:12
That comes from doing the work,

Nikki

24:14
Right. So the trick is when you can buy fewer great supplies rather than many lesser quality supplies. But don’t let the lack of those great supplies stop you from using what you have on hand.

Laura

24:34
Right, just using exactly what you have on hand. And I know for me, I’m lucky that I have an entire Dick Blick store.

Nikki

24:42
Well, and that brings me to one last takeaway. So you have an entire Dick Blick store. What can you do to make sure that you’re using what you have and don’t get overwhelmed by it?

Laura

24:59
That’s really a great thing to think about. And I think one of the things to combat the overwhelm of the amount of supplies that I have available, is to create limits for myself. And so it could be giving myself a limited supply challenge, and saying, you know what, I’m going to take this set of 12 watercolors, and I’m going to learn how to mix these together and create my own colors. And that’s all I’m using for this, I’m not going to look at the other 50 things of watercolors that I have, I’m just going to focus on this thing, and especially if maybe it’s something I haven’t used yet that’s in my stash. I almost want to call it #stashbash, where I’m going to go through and shop from my own supplies. And when I see something on social media and see this beautiful, new watercolor that somebody has used, I don’t need to run out and buy that most of the time, I can create the exact same effect with what I already own.

Nikki

25:58
Yes, definitely.

Laura

25:58
So giving myself those challenges, I think is helpful. And I think it also be fun to create some challenges for yourself if you want to experiment in different mediums, and I may do this in the future, is to say, “Okay, I’m going to challenge myself to do 30 drawings of elephants this month.” I’m going to do 30 elephants. And those are going to be across all the mediums that I have. But now I’ve limited myself to a topic. And so I think that that could be a fun thing to explore all the art supplies that I have, but at least limit myself in what I’m going to be working on so that it’s not overwhelming that I could make anything with anything that I have.

Nikki

26:37
I love that idea. Of course if I do it, it’s going to be 30 nude women. So if you’ve enjoyed this discussion of our obsessive addiction, please subscribe to our podcast and tell a friend.

Laura

26:58
And join us in the Startist Society Facebook group and share with us what your favorite art supplies are. We’d love to see them and then try to resist from buying them ourselves. We’ll see you next week.

Nikki

27:11
See you next week. To learn more about the podcast, read today’s show notes and get links to all of our favorite art supplies, go to startistsociety.com/artsupplies.

When you purchase something using the links in our resources section, we may earn a small commission with no additional cost to you.
We only promote products and online shops that we use and love!

pinktop

Join Our Facebook Group

Join the Startist Society in our Facebook group where we go deeper into the topics from each episode, share more about what we are working on in our creative businesses and help keep each other accountable.

pinkbottom