Best Websites To Buy Art Supplies

By July 30, 2015Art Supplies

A comprehensive guide to buying art supplies online, where to find the best UK prices and which arts specialists offer the best service…

Cheap Art Materials


eBay - cheap art supplies

While I highly recommend supporting your local art stores there are times when we can’t always afford the higher prices and find ourselves turning to online sites for a cheaper deal. I’ve put this section together to help you weigh up where to find the best prices to buy art supplies online. To illustrate the major differences I’ve searched for three different art products at eight different sites. Here’s the results…

Winsor & Newton’s Artist Oil Paint

art supplies - prussian blue oil paintFor the first search I’ve gone with a low cost item – Winsor & Newton’s Artist Oil paint (37ml tube). Such a low cost item highlights the differences that post and packaging costs can make – and why eBay’s often the best place to get free postage along with a low price. This is especially true since Amazon upped their minimum spend to £20 for free super saver delivery. Quite amazing that there’s a £10 difference in prices across the various art retailers.

Winsor & Newton Prussian Blue Oil 37ml Prices…

SitePriceP&PTotalLink
eBay£2.40£0.00£2.40Buy
Artifolk£3.69£2.99£6.68Buy
Jackson’s Art£5.60£1.50£7.10Buy
Great Art£5.50£2.95£8.45Buy
Amazon£5.54£3.30£8.84Buy
Ken Bromley£5.22£3.95£9.17Buy
Winsor & Newton£7.45£4.99£12.44Buy
Large Moleskine Sketchbook

art supplies - Moleskine Large SketchbookThe iPhones of the sketchbook world. Loved unconditionally by the artists who draw and write in nothing else or loathed as overpriced and over marketed by everyone else. If you fall into the former camp (along with myself) then you probably want to buy another one at some point. So here’s the best prices I found for the Large Moleskine Sketchbook (hardback) with 104 heavy weight 250gsm pages and a pleasingly useable size of 13cm x 21cm (5″ by 8″).

Large Moleskine Sketchbook Prices…

SitePriceP&PTotalLink
eBay£8.99£0.00£8.99Buy
Book Depository£12.43£0.00£12.43Buy
Mojo London£12.50£0.00£12.50Buy
Wordery£14.36£0.00£14.36Buy
Amazon£11.55£3.30£14.85Buy
Jackson’s Art£13.70£1.50£15.20Buy
Paperchase£16.00£3.25£19.25Buy
Derwent Artists’ Pencils Wooden Box Set

box of colouring pencilsFor the second search I’ve gone with a much more expensive item – Derwent’s multi-teired wooden box of 120 colouring pencils. If anyone wants to buy it for me I’ll draw you a picture using all 120 colours in return! The price differences are pretty huge overall with Amazon just edging it from eBay. Note that most retailers give you free delivery on higher value items (usually over £40-£50).

Derwent Artists’ 120 Pencils Wooden Box Set Prices…

SitePriceP&PTotalLink
eBay£121.94£0.00£121.94Buy
Amazon£128.83£0.00£128.83Buy
Jackson’s Art£138.00£0.00£138.00Buy
Cass Art£139.95£0.00£139.95Buy
Ken Bromley£165.50£0.00£165.50Buy
SAA£191.65£0.00£191.65Buy
Derwent£212.95£0.00£212.95Buy
Conclusion

These are just three random tests but I’ve consistently found eBay and Amazon the cheapest sources for art materials online with Jackson’s Art often following closely behind. But do your own tests using our links above and see where you can find the best art supply prices yourself. Don’t forget to sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime to save even more!

Our Top 3 Sites for Cheap Art Supplies

First port of call for cheap art materials:
1. eBay – Painting, Drawing & Art category
2. Amazon – Art Supplies Category
3. Jackson’s Art – Cheapest Art Supplies specialist

Best of the Rest

Cowling & Wilcox – Will beat competitors price for paints by 10%
Artifolk – Much loved art suppliers with decent price matching service
Art Discount – Regular sales, bargains and art supply discounts

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Drawing & Painting Supplies


Jacksons Art

It’s one thing using eBay and Amazon to find cheap art materials but it can be a hassle ordering from lots of different Amazon resellers and eBayers when you could buy everything in one place at a specialist art store. Especially if you’re looking to buy drawing and painting materials in large ranges and quantities. Step in the long-standing art supplies stores – many who’ve been operating for decades and smoothly transitioned their expertise to their online outlets.

1. Jackson’s Art

One of my favourite art specialists for drawing and painting materials is Jacksons Art Supplies. The London based business has been selling art supplies for years and you can tell from their own brand products that they really know what they’re doing and what artists want.

Case in point: I recently ordered a wooden panel for painting from Jacksons. I wanted something with deep sides and a smooth surface for acrylic painting so opted for their own brand 16″ x 16″ plywood panel (50mm deep). It arrived in a couple of days for just £13.50 plus £1.50 postage and it’s a really well put together product as you can see from the picture below.

Jacksons Art Wooden Panel

£11.70

Buy Online

Jackson’s – Wooden Panels

Plywood panels in various sizes with a depth of almost 2 inches – ideal for acrylic painting.

Jacksons also have a fantastic selection of brushes for oils, acrylics and watercolour with their own brand versions offering excellent value – same goes for their paints which get consistent five star ratings on Feefo. You can view the Jackson’s catalogue online or order a printed copy for free. I’m a big fan of Jackson’s Art Supplies and hope you find them as good value as I do for drawing and painting supplies without sacrificing on quality.

2. Ken Bromley

The other online drawing and painting specialist I can wholeheartedly recommend is Ken Bromley Art Supplies. Based in Bolton Ken Bromley have been selling art supplies for over twenty years and now have one of the biggest art supply websites in the UK. As I was researching this article I also noticed they offer a Price Match Promise and will better a competitor offer by 5% off the difference.

One product I can totally vouch for is Ken Bromley’s Perfect Paper Stretcher which will “stretch your cartridge, pastel or watercolour paper (up to 140lb) and dry it ‘tight-as-a-drum’ in minutes.” I’ve used the 13.5″ x 20.5″ version with for years and it works brilliantly with the 140gm Bockingford Watercolour Paper.

ken bromley watercolour paper stretcher

£29 – £53

Buy Online

Ken Bromley – Paper Stretcher

A wonderfully simple idea for stretching paper that you’ll soon be wondering how you ever did without it.

3. Cornelissen & Son

Established in 1855 Cornelissen & Son is an enchanting throwback to the art stores of yesteryear. It’s not the cheapest online art supply shop but it’s arguably the most specialist art supply store around with a range of pigments, gums, resins (to name but a few) that will make you feel like you’re part of a living history of great artists through the centuries.

Cornelissen-And-Son

Mix your own oil paints with Naples Yellow Dark Pigment, booklets of gold leaf, or traditional calligraphy inks.

Browsing Cornelissen & Son’s website is like opening a cabinet of wonder on a world of art expertise and traditions that are fast disappearing. Highly recommended and be sure to visit their beautiful store if you’re in London.

Our Top 3 Sites for Drawing & Painting Supplies

1. Jackson’s Art – Own brand products are great value
2. Ken Bromley – Will beat any competitor’s price
3. Cornelissen & Son – A cornucopia of traditional art materials

Best of the Rest

Russell And Chapple – Specialist shop for artist’s canvas, stretchers and fabrics
Atlantis – UK’s largest art supply store in East London
Lawrence – Providing all manner of art supplies since 1859

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Sculpture, Glass & Pottery Supplies


buy art supplies - tiranti

With only a handful of dedicated specialists selling sculpture materials online it’s not too difficult to select the best of the bunch. Some sculpture stores specialise in carving materials while others cast a wider net from pottery to glass to mould making. The selections below cover all these categories and more.

1. Tiranti

First up is Tiranti – the London based family business that’s been selling sculptor’s tool and materials since 1895. Read about their fascinating history here. With sections on Woodcarving, Stonecarving, Pottery, Modelling, Mouldmaking, Casting & Restoration Tiranti is a pretty extensive website for sculpture materials and studio equipment (such as the Shimpo professional potter’s wheels below).

centricast

Tiranti – C300 Centricast Machine

Makes moulds in cold cure silicone rubber then casts in white metals and Pewter.

Or if you fancy trying out some body moulding or lifecasting Tiranti have put together tutorial videos with links to all the materials you need to put them into practice. All in all Tiranti is a well respected UK based supplier of sculpture materials that is more than likely to have what you need as a working sculptor or budding enthusiast.

Tabularasa is a specialist sculpture materials worth mentioning too – they have an English website and the current state of the Euro means there’s some good deals to be had.

2. Scarva

They’re only ‘the worlds leading supplier of ceramic materials and equipment’. So I kind of had to include them here. Scarva’s website also lays claim to ‘the best prices online’. We checked a few prices and indeed they were cheaper than competitors but you can always contact them at their Northern Ireland base if you see something cheaper elsewhere.

potters-wheels

Scarva – Potters’ Wheels

Set up your own pottery studio with the Shimpo RK3D or the Shimpo RK3E potters’ wheels.

Scarva’s website is really well laid out and their vast ranges of clays are a breeze to navigate and incredibly informative. Aside from everything you’ll ever need to work with ceramics they have a fantastic selection of books from Raku firing to slipcasting.

kilns

Scarva – Kilns

Another essential for your pottery studio – front loading or top loading kilns.

Warm Glass

In business for over 10 years Warm Glass is ‘the largest UK retailer of quality glass fusing supplies and accessories’. They sell everything from glass kilns, glass slumping moulds and glass tools to glass brits and billets. UK Delivery is free for orders over £40 and they also offer some generous discounts for students, schools and colleges.

glass-art-materials

£1.25

Buy Online

Warm Glass – Bullseye Glass Rods

Transparent striker rod, matures to its target colour on firing.

Warm Glass also has a handy knowledge base on topics such as choosing a glass kiln as well as an extensive range of free tutorial videos and online education courses.

Visit Warm Glass at their store in Wrington (outside Bristol) where you can also sign up for training courses and buy all the glass equipment you’ll ever need.

Our Top 3 Sites for Sculpture Supplies

1. Tiranti – Specialists in mouldmaking, carving, casting & restoration
2. Scarva – Potter or ceramicist? This is the shop for you
3. Warm Glass – Supplier of glass artist’s materials

Best of the Rest

Tabularasa – Italian based sculpture supply store with high quality tools and gear
Bath Potters – Huge range of supplies for potters and ceramic artists
Harbro Supplies – Tools for working with stone, marble, granite and concrete materials

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Printmaking Supplies


intaglio printmaker supplies

After dabbling in etching and screenprinting at art college I decided to go back over the last few years to brush up on my printmaking skills and enrolled in some excellent classes at Edinburgh Printmakers. Needing to invest in some printmaking materials I turned to the old trusty sources of Amazon and eBay but if I wanted specialist materials or expert help I would have turned to the printmaking suppliers below.

1. Intaglio Printmaker

Intaglio Printmaker opened in London in 1981 and offer art materials and papers for etching, screenprinting, relief printing, lithography and more. You can download their latest catalogue in PDF format from the bottom of their homepage.

mounted-lino

Intaglio Printmaker – Mounted Lino

Various sizes for relief printing pre-mounted onto 18mm fibreboard block.

Intaglio have a huge variety of printmaking papers from handmade papers from Asia to Fabriano Mediovalis Cards. They sell papers in individual sheets or printmaking paper packs of 10-100.

The Intaglio Printmaker store is located in Southwark, London so pop in if you need some expert advice on printmaking techniques and materials. They’ve also been running an Artist in Residency scheme for over 10 years – that’s my kind of art store.

2. Lawrence Art Supplies

Though Lawrence Art Supplies specialise in more than just printmaking they have one of the widest selections of printmaking materials in the UK. For a taster of what you can expect check out their relief printing sets from Japanese Woodcut tools to a Printmaker’s Selection Box.

speedball screenprinting inks

Lawrence Art Supplies – Speedball Acrylic Screen Ink

Pigmented, matt-finish, water-based non-toxic screenprinting ink.

It’s becoming a bit of a theme of the best sites to buy art supplies online that Lawrence Art Supplies was founded in 1859 with over 150 years of experience in the trade. It’s heartening to see experts in printmaking materials making such a successful transition into the digital age and bringing decades of in-house skills and knowledge with them.

A special mention should also go to Great Art’s Printmaking Supplies section. They’ve a wide range of printmaking products and while their prices aren’t always the most competitive they have frequent sales and discounts where bargains can be picked up.

3. Hawthorn Printmaker

Hawthorn Printmaker won’t win any awards for the best website design but what they lack in style and usability they make up for in their own brand printmaking inks and supplies and a huge range of professional printmaking equipment.

hawthorn-printmaker-inks

Hawthorn Printmaker – Stay Open Inks

A range of inks for all printmaking techniques made to be non skin for long periods.

Hawthorn also have their own lines of rollers, Carborundum Grit (for graining litho stones) and Lincoln Wash (a white spirit water based alternative). If you don’t mind the clunky website then you can pick up some quality printmaking materials from a company that knows what it’s doing.

Our Top 3 Sites for Printmaking Supplies

1. Intaglio Printmaker – If you want it they’re almost guaranteed to have it
2. Lawrence Printmaking Supplies – Art supplies specialists with vast printmaking section
3. Hawthorn Printmaker – High quality own brand inks and materials

Best of the Rest

Great Art – Large range of printmaking papers from Fabriano to Hahnemuehle
Silk Screening Print Supplies – So much screen printing supplies it’ll make your head spin
George Weil – Vast printmaking supplies including Selectasine pigments and binders

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Graphic Design Supplies


graphics-direct

There’s a great deal of crossover between fine art supply stores and graphic arts suppliers but I’ve done my best to seek out the shops that understand the products and materials that graphic designers really need. Like most other categories on this page if you’re after the cheapest graphics arts materials I’d include Amazon’s Graphic Design category and eBay’s new and used offerings in your online search. You might not get the expertise and wisdom of the specialist shops below but you might well get the lowest price.

1. Graphics Direct

It’s not easy recommending a graphic design store that has such a cheesily designed logo but in the interests of design snob neutrality I hereby give my backing to Graphics Direct as one of the best places to buy graphics supplies online.

For their sheer range of graphic design essentials and specialist tools at decent prices Graphics Direct are hard to beat. Throw in a 12% discount for students via Student Beans and you’re looking at a serious competitor to Amazon and eBay for cheap graphic design supplies.

Graphics Direct - Airbrush Equipment

Graphics Direct – Airbrush Equipment

Broad range of Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes, compressors and kits.

One feature I really love on Graphics Direct is their University College Kits service. Just click the link, find your university and see a complete list of everything you’ll need as a new student on your graphic design, architecture, interior design course etc. Simply add the discounted products to your basket and it will all be delivered to your door (with free delivery if it’s over £100). Nice.

2. London Graphics Centre

London Graphics Centre has over 40 years in the trade which reflects in its well designed online store for buying what every good designer needs – stuff for making designy stuff!

drawing-boards

London Graphics Centre – Drawing Boards

Floorstanding, table top & translucent lightboard drawing board.

Students also get a very generous 15% off at any London Graphic Centre store and online with the London Graphic Centre Student Card (though the student discount doesn’t apply to products already discounted or on offer). Bulk orders can be eligible for a discount too.

Whether you’re looking for lightboxes to drawing projectors, fine liner pens to stylus pens London Graphic Store carries a good selection of them all.

3. Refuelled

According to their website Refuelled is ‘where designers come to fill up’. It’s an apt description as Refuelled supplies a range of products that other graphic design supplies websites could do with stocking up on. Most notably the the range of tech products that define the life of today’s designers more and more.

MakerBot-Replicator-Mini

Refuelled – MakerBot Replicator Mini

Easy and affordable 3D printer.

Refuelled stock a wide range of graphics tablets, monitors and graphics cards, projectors and 3D printers like the Makerbot shown above.

Our Top 3 Sites for Graphic Design Supplies

1. Graphics Direct – Competitive prices for graphic arts supplies with 12% student discount
2. London Graphics Centre – Selling graphics materials since 1973 & 15% student discount
3. Refuelled – Design supplies and tech gear from 3D printing to monitors

Best of the Rest

Cass Art – More of a general art store but lots of design materials too
Cult Pens – Brilliant site with the widest range of pens on the planet
Graphic Air – Airbrush supply specialists

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Photography Gear


Wex Photographic

If I want to buy photography gear online the process begins with reviews. From there I can usually narrow it down to the main contenders within my budget. While I used to turn to DPreview first I’m increasingly going straight to Youtube. That’s where two guys from Canada (Chris & Jordan) aka TheCameraStoreTV do some of the best photography gear reviews around. Then there’s the ever popular DigitalRev channel where Kai W adds some levity to the oh so serious world of camera buying. Imaging Resource is my favourite camera review site for checking image quality, screens and settings.

Once I’ve narrowed it down to two or three contenders I’ll check Amazon’s Camera & Photo Section as a baseline for prices and to get a wider feel for the camera or accessory from user reviews. Next stop is usually eBay’s Camera & Photography section where I’ll order results by ‘Buy it Now’ and ‘Price + P&P: lowest first’ to get a feel for the prices of the camera both new and used.

Then the real hunt begins as I trawl the corners of the internet looking for that rare animal – a good deal from an online photography store I can confidently trust. I know too many people (myself included) who’ve been burnt by buying from dodgy eBay sellers and grey import sites that I’ve finally learned my lesson and stick to trusted retailers. So here’s my recommendations for the best places to buy camera equipment online…

1. Wex Photographic

Wex Photographic was voted best online shop in Which?’s 2014 survey of over 10,000 members beating much loved stores stores like John Lewis. It’s wide range of products was one of the main reasons members gave – in the words of one member: ‘Wex is helpful and efficient, with good prices and a huge range.’

Wex Photographic - Lenses

Wex Photographic – Lenses

There’s over 16,000 products on the website, several hundred of those are accounted for in these lenses.

Established in 1997 Wex Photographic is the UK’s largest independent online photographic retailer. Voted ‘Best Online Retailer’ 12 years running by Camera & Photo magazine readers. This is the kind of trustworthy vibe that makes spending a few hundred quid on a new camera or lens that bit easier. Even better is the fact that Wex prices are competitive with Amazon and eBay and there’s free delivery on orders over £50.

You also don’t need to worry about unwittingly buying grey imports as every item sold from Wex is from UK stock only. Reassuring when it comes to warranties – not to mention their 28 day return policy. Throw in the option of interest free credit and their part-exchange service and you can see why Wex are so popular.

2. Calumet Photographic

It feels good to recommend more than one photography equipment retailer that I know treats its customers right and offers great value too. Calumet Photographic has equally high credentials as Wex Photographic beginning with their price promise. If you find an identical product at a UK based retailer then Calumet will match it – even if you find that price up to 7 days after purchasing!

Calumet won What Digital Camera & Amatuer Photographer’s 2015 Gold Award for good service

Calumet also sell used photography gear with a 12 month warranty – see here for a complete list of inventory at each store and how to trade in your old camera gear too.

Lowepro-Vertex-200

Calumet – Lowepro Vertex 200AW Camera Backpack

Award winning backpack for the adventurous photographer (cheaper than Amazon too).

With stores in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and beyond there’s a good chance you’ll be able to order online and collect in store for free. Calumet also have a rental service where you can hire photography equipment and pick it up at a local store or have it delivered to your address. It’s ideal for student projects and if you are a student there’s a special membership offer where for just £25 you get £150 of free stuff including £50 off rental.

3. Clifton Cameras

With a TrustPilot rating of 9.5 out of 10, Google reviews of 4.7 out of 5, and a 2015 Good Service Award Clifton Cameras are a safe pair of hands for buying your photography gear. Throw in a 2 year warranty for anything you buy from them and you’ll get so much peace of mind you may end up living on a commune.

drone-cameras

Clifton Cameras – Drone Cameras

Aerial photography and videography with Yuneec Quadcopters.

If your budget can’t stretch to the mammoth range of new camera equipment Clifton also stock a wide range of used cameras and used camera lenses. Clifton are based in Dursley, Gloucestershire and sell only official UK stock.

Our Top 3 Sites for Photography Gear

1. Wex Photographic – Top customer service, great prices and almighty range of products
2. Calumet Photographic – Price match promise, camera exchange and student friendly
3. Clifton Cameras – Good to customers and 2 year warranties on all products

Best of the Rest

Park cameras – Huge store with camera trade in deals on new purchases
Jessops – They’ve been around the block and a price match promise too
Lomography Shop – Go old school with analogue cameras and film

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Filmmaking Gear


cvp-video-gear

I’ve dipped my toes into the world of filmmaking at various points in my creative career. Alma Ha’rel’s mesmerising documentary Bombay Beach inspired me to hunt down the exact set up she used. Thanks to eBay.com a Canon Vixia and letus mini adaptor winged its way over from the States with an enormous customs charge and a note to self to buy from the UK next time.

Nowadays I’ll browse Amazon UK’s Camera & Video category then search eBay’s Camera & Video section to get a feel for new and used prices. Philip Bloom’s video gear reviews are a good place to start before checking prices and video gear suppliers. Here’s my favourites…

1. CVP

CVP (short for Cine/Video/Photo formerly known as Creative Video) have been in the business over 25 years and are the most popular broadcast and professional video retailer in the UK. With stores in London, Glasgow, Cardiff, Warwickshire and Salford you might not be too far away to stop by in person.

Over 1,700 customer reviews on Feefo give CVC a combined rating of 93% for customer service and 96% for products. In one producers words CVP has an “easy website with comprehensive ranges of (tempting) professional products, uncomplicated checkout system, fast next day delivery, total courtesy throughout”. And more than 2,700 CVP customers gave an average score of 4.7 out of 5 on their website.

DJI Phantom 3

CVP – DJI Phantom 3 Professional

Quad Copter with a Built in 4K Video and 12MP Stills Camera.

Now that you’re convinced the guys at CVP will treat you better than your favourite auntie let’s get on with what else they offer. A big plus for me are their CVP.tv video reviews of the latest filmmaking gear and accessories. There’s also a good chance that CVP will be able to price match another UK retailer (excluding Amazon and eBay) just look for the price match guarantee on the product and fill in the details if you’ve seen the product cheaper elsewhere.

CVP also have a used & ex-demo video gear section for those times you can’t quite afford brand new kit. If you’re looking to rent video equipment then head over to CVP’s rental subsidiary GearBox for professional video gear to hire.

2. Proactive

Proactive Broadcast Solutions are a UK supplier of broadcast and professional video equipment. Based in Hemel Hempstead with a fantastic 1,500 square ft showroom that’s invaluable for demo-ing video gear before you buy it.

proactive-showroom

Proactive – Showroom

A Willy Wonka factory of video equipment and camera gear to get your hands on.

Proactive have a eKomi rating of 4.9 out of 5 from over 900 reviews – that’s some pretty happy customers. Don’t forget to check them out on Twitter for updates and offers or to contact them directly.

3. Production Gear

Based in Hertfordshire (with a 1,000 square foot showroom) Production Gear are official UK distributors for many well known video equipment brands. Filmmaker and blogger Daniel Haggett thinks they’re great – on a visit to their showroom… “Edward actually told me one of the products seemed a bit overpriced and searched for a cheaper alternative and ordered it for me – this is not the kind of service you get everywhere”. Indeed.

Canon 5DmkIII Accessory Kit

Production Gear – Canon 5DmkIII Accessory Kit

Professional camera support package designed for the Canon 5DmkIII cameras.

Production Gear have a frequently updated blog with news and reviews of video equipment and offers – well worth a look. Like many of their competitors in the camera and video world Production Gear offer a price matching service – just click the red price match banner on a product page and fill out the form.

Our Top 3 Sites for Filmmaking Gear

1. CVP – The leading video equipment retailer in the UK for good reason
2. Proactive – Great website, vast range of products & top customer service
3. Production Gear – Informative blog, price matching and know their stuff

Best of the Rest

Visual Impact – Nice website, price match promise & part exchange
PEC Video – Soho based video equipment pros working for over 80 years
Hire A Camera – Renting DSLR & Video cameras online since 2003

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Digital Art Gear


adobe-creative-cloud

There aren’t many artists and creative professionals who don’t use some of kind of digital equipment in their creative process. A friend who paints murals spends the majority of each project surrounded by traditional artist’s materials of brushes, oil paints and mediums. Yet he still uses Photoshop to plan his design, a laptop and projector to map it out on location and a printer to show the client mock ups of the final work. Grayson Perry says his Wacom Cintiq Interactive Pen Display has revolutionised his drawing.

Illustrator Joel Stewart writes insightfully about his own awkward transition from so called ‘hand-made’ to making art on the screen…

“I’m fond of pulling people up when they refer only to the non-digital as being hand-made, as though those of us working with Wacom tablets or Cintiq screens made the computers do all the work with our hands tied behind our backs.”

When the dust settles on the last few decades digital art equipment will be regarded as just another tool available to artists to utilise. As ever it’s up to creative communities to utilise these tools with imagination and skill to determine their effectiveness and staying power.

1. Adobe Creative Cloud

First up comes Adobe’s online suite of digital tools Creative Cloud. For over 25 years Photoshop has been at the heart of digital creativity from the special effects on Star Wars to Shepard Fairey’s iconic Hope poster. In almost 20 years of using Photoshop myself I’ve created art for screenprints, designed graphics for websites and manipulated photos. There’s not another creative tool (outside of a pencil or pen) I’m more comfortable with.

If Photoshop’s all you need then you can subscribe to Adobe’s Photography Plan with Photoshop & Lightroom for £8.57 a month. If you want to get access to the full suite of Adobe’s creative tools then keep reading…

Creative Cloud Programmes

Creative Cloud – Desktop Apps

Just a few of the 30 desktop apps you get with a full subscription.

If you want to use more creative software than just Photoshop and Lightroom then you’re probably considering paying for the full Creative Cloud experience. Let’s mention the elephant in the room first. Businesses are used to paying large amounts for software licences but if you’re a freelance artist, designer, photographer, filmmaker or weekend hobbyist then Creative Cloud doesn’t come cheap. The current price for an annual plan for individuals is £45.73 a month. That’s an outlay of £548.76 a year. Ouch.

Let’s take a deep breath then zoom out for take a long view perspective. Before that there’s some very good news for students and teachers who can save an almighty 65% and pay just £15.49 for the full Creative Cloud experience. But what about the rest of us… is it worth it?

When I think of the money I make a year from art and design work created with Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere and Dreamweaver then £45 a month is a pretty small percent to pay for the digital tools I use every day. Plus, a Creative Cloud subscription keeps those trusted tools sharp as I’ll always be using the latest versions as they keep evolving and improving. Throw in all the fonts I need with the bundled Adobe Typekit, the ability to use Adobe’s apps on my tablet or mobile and CreativeSync backing up all my files across all devices and it looks a much better deal.

2. Digital Art Gear List

Having worked as an artist and designer since dinosaurs roamed the internet I’ve gone through my fair share of digital art equipment.

After all this time I’d like to think I’ve figured out an essential gear list for a creative freelancer on a budget. So if you’re thinking of setting up your own business as a graphic designer, digital artist, illustrator or web designer then the list below is a good place to start.

While I’ve called it an essential gear list there are a few things you could probably do without the desktop computer, monitor and tablet if you splurge on a good enough laptop. Even if you do without the desktop PC or Mac I’d still consider hooking your laptop up to a large monitor for creative work. Here’s a scary thought – you’ll probably spend more time staring at your monitor than you’ll gaze at any of your loved ones so you might as well make it a good one!

If you do decide to go for a lightweight laptop to stay creative on the move – don’t skimp on graphics card, lots of memory, a fast hard drive (or two) and a speedy processor.

But sometimes a laptop just won’t cut it and you’ll need a high end desktop workstation for heavy duty film editing, 3D animation or large photoshop files. Buying all the digital art equipment below can be a bit daunting but most of it will last for years and you can stagger your purchases in line with your income.

For each computer arts category I’ve included links to buying guides or reviews while the links on the right take you to the appropriate category on Amazon, eBay or Wex photographic. I hope you find it useful and whatever you buy becomes a faithful tool for creating beautiful work for many years.

Top 10 Digital Art Gear Essentials
ProductCategoryBuy
buy art materials - digital monitor

1. Desktop

While I’ve used Macs in the past my current desktop is a Dell XPS 8300 which has been more than up to the task for heavy Photoshop use and video editing.

PC Advisor: PC Reviews  |  Tech Radar: PC & Mac Reviews

Amazon
eBay
Wex
buy a monitor for graphics

2. Monitor

My Dell UltraSharp U2412M has been an excellent monitor for art, graphics and web work and well worthy of Wirecutter’s Best 24″ Monitor accolade.

TFT Central: Monitor Reviews  |  Wirecutter: Best Monitors

Amazon
eBay
Wex
macbook - digital arts gear

3. Laptop

I’m looking to replace my dusty old Dell Latitude with a powerful but lightweight laptop that can handle film and image editing – possibly a 15″ Macbook Pro.

PC Advisor: Laptop Reviews  |  Wirecutter: Best Laptops

Amazon
eBay
Wex
Buy art materials online - ipad mini tablet

4. Tablet

Seeing Hockney’s iPad art at his RA show made me want to go straight out and buy one. Ended up getting a Nexus 7 and it’s been a great little creative tool.

PC Advisor: Tablet Reviews  |  Wirecutter: Best Tablets

Amazon
eBay
Wex
buy printers for art and design

5. Printer

I’ve been really happy with my Canon ix6850 A3 printer for art, design and photography prints. Get the best printer for your creative needs too…

PC Advisor: Printer Reviews  |  Wirecutter: Best Printers

Amazon
eBay
Wex
Buy a scanner for art and photography

6. Scanner

For a cheap A4 scanner you can’t go wrong with the Canon LiDE 220 it’s great for scanning artwork. Check our review & shop links for A3 scanners and more…

PC Advisor: Scanner Reviews  |  Wirecutter: Best Scanners

Amazon
eBay
Wex
BUy Wacom Graphics Tablet

7. Graphics Tablet

I love my Wacom Intuos Graphics Tablet and rarely ever use a mouse now. If you get a sore wrist from using a mouse then seriously consider switching.

Tech Radar: Graphics Tablet Reviews  |  Wex: Graphics Tablets 101

Amazon
eBay
Wex
Buy Datacolor Spyder 4 Colour Calibration Software

8. Colour Calibration

Getting the colours right from monitor to printer to paper is no mean feat. Thankfully tools like the Spyder4 Pro help your colours get along nicely.

B&H: Best Monitor Calibrator  |  Wex: Comparison Chart

Amazon
eBay
Wex
Buy graphics software

9. Creative Software

If Adobe’s Creative Cloud is outwith your budget you can still buy standalone creative software or try free digital art applications like Krita or Gimp.

Digital Arts: Creative Software Guide  |  Creative Bloq: Software Articles

Amazon
eBay
Wex
buy art materials online - inkjet paper

10. Paper & Ink

I’ve always used Canon printers and am a big fan of their glossy photo paper for photography prints & high resolution paper for art & graphics work.

Amatuer Photographer: Best Inkjet Papers  |  Which: Cheap Printer Ink

Amazon
eBay
Wex

Don’t forget our top recommendations for filmmaking and photography gear above too.

Our Top 3 Sites for Digital Art Gear

1. Wex Photographic – Great for Mac gear and everything else on the list too
2. Amazon – There’s no escaping it, they gots lots of stuff
3. eBay – First port of call for cheap digital art gear

Best of the Rest

Calumet Photographic – Fantastic customer service & great Printing & Computing section
Overclockers – Much loved retailer of high end computing hardware and components
Scan – If you want something fast go to these computer equipment specialists

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Graffiti Supplies


Buy Graffiti Supplies

Okay, confession time. Back in the day I used to have aspirations to be a graffiti artist and my graffiti moniker (known only to a select group of friends) was, erm… The Wizard. Thankfully most of The Wizard’s graffiti writing remained safe from public view in sketchbooks with only the odd tag and artwork on local run down buildings. It was the late eighties and hip hop and graffiti culture were winging their way to the UK via films like Wild Style and Style Wars (watch full doc on Youtube) not to forget the UK’s own Bombin’ documentary (entire doc also on Youtube).

As I drew graffiti letters on the backs of jotters little would I know the impact spraycan art would have on the art world and wider culture over the coming decades. Its ripples reverberated in the groundbreaking work ofJean-Michel Basquiat to the present day street art of Banksy. Yet compared to many of the art disciplines on this page most of graffiti’s tools haven’t changed (spray paint and markers) and remain accessible to most and relatively cheap. Here’s the best places I could find to buy graffiti supplies online…

1. Graff City

Graff City is the daddy of all UK graffiti supply stores. A Trust Pilot rating of 9.7 out of 10 (from over 200 reviews) shows they treat their customers the right way too. Customers can collect Graff Points with every purchase with a value of 3p for every pound spent.

Buy Montana Spray Paint Online

Graff City – Montana Spray Paints

The best spray paint in the world – top of the list at Complex.

Graff City have over 80,000 spray paint cans in stock from the US based MTN to Chinese brand Ironlak. There’s a wide range of graffiti themed clothing, graffiti books and magazines. Perhaps my favourite thing about Graff City is that they give away some Free Stuff with every order. That’s my kind of art supply store.

2. Art Primo

For once in this mammoth post I’m turning to a US based store instead of a UK one. Sometimes you’ve just got to take the postage hit (and possible customs and duty charge) when you want the best gear. So my second choice of graffiti supplies store Art Primo, a Seattle based art supply company who aims to “arm you with the best tools to create revolutionary artwork”. Where else can you buy the best graffiti materials alongside cheap Brooklyn Billboard Model Kits for miniature experimenting.

NYC Subway Car Book

Graff City – NYC Subway Car Book

12″ x 6″ sketchbook featuring outlines of classic New York City Subway cars.

Art Primo also stock some really nice skateboards (at decent prices), clothing, backpacks and just about anything else you can associate with graffiti culture. I haven’t even mentioned their huge stock of spray paint, spray paint caps, markers and ink. Some of the best clothing I’ve bought has been shipped from the US (thanks TurntableLab) and every time it’s been worth it so if you see something you really want at Art Primo then just take the hit and enjoy it!

3. Writer’s Bench

In their own words Writer’s Bench are “an online graffiti & street art shop supplying a wide range of equipment at the best possible prices.” Sounds good to me. Nathaniel Sobhee from Creative Arts Workshops says of Writer’s Bench “We have worked alongside Writers Bench for over a decade and have built a great professional relationship. We use the guys for workshops and art supplies and they always deliver the goods!”

Buy graffiti supplies - Grog Ink

Writer’s Bench – Grog Inks & Markers

The masters of graffiti inks, squeezers & boosters for street art.

Writer’s Bench aren’t just a graffiti supplies store – they’ve been running graffiti & street art workshops in and around London for over 10 years. You can even take classes to get a graffiti qualification!

Our Top 3 Sites for Graffiti Supplies

1. Graff City – The leading video equipment retailer in the UK for good reason
2. Art Primo – Great website, vast range of products & top customer service
3. Writer’s Bench – Informative blog, price matching and know their stuff

Best of the Rest

Bombing Science – US based Graffiti Store & one of the biggest worldwide
4Graffiti – UK online store run by graffiti writers with decent prices
AlFresh.co – Cambridge based store with wide range of cans, pens and markers

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Craft Supplies


Buy craft supplies online - hobbycraft

Researching the best website to buy art and craft supplies online has been the most labour intensive category so far. There’s several huge craft shops online (often with high street stores) and hundreds of specialist craft retailers tailored for their particular niche. So how to choose the best three from so many options?

Well I’ve gone with a mixture of my own experience using each website, comparing searches for range of stock, reading customer reviews, overall popularity, value for money prices and an overall sense of trustability.

While I’ll be focusing on craft supplies specialists most of my research for the cheapest arts and crafts prices were usually Amazon’s Arts & Crafts section and eBay’s Crafts section.

So if you’re primary concern is getting cheap craft supplies then check eBay or Amazon but if you’ve a long shopping list (and don’t want to order items from lots of different Amazon & eBay resellers) then you might find The Works or The Range almost as cheap with everything arriving in one order.

1. Hobbycraft

If I could only use one online craft store that would give me the best chance of finding a random craft material I’d go with Hobbycraft. With dozens of craft stores across the UK Hobbycraft has been at the forefront of UK arts and crafts supplies for over 20 years and have the widest range of craft supplies and some reasonable prices. Winner of the Best Craft Chainstore at the UK Craft Awards 2015 but does that high street success carry over to Hobbycraft’s online store?

In my opinion it’s a definite yes – and Review Centre currently has 95% of Hobbycraft customers recommending the site (with a score of 4.6 out of 5) too. The site is cleanly designed, easy to use and often has the largest range of products on searches compared to the competitor sites I tried.

Hobbycraft - Value Craft Pack

£2.00

Buy Online

Hobbycraft – Value Craft Pack

If you want to keep a 5 year old amused for hours buy one of these craft packs complete with googly eyes.

At the time of writing you can also get a tidy 15% off your next order (in-store or online) as well as member’s offers and discounts if you join the Hobbycraft Club here. There’s free delivery for orders over £30 and a click and collect service at your local store for orders over £10.

Something I always like to see is a student discount and Hobbycraft offers 10% off for students if you register via Unidays. Don’t forget to check Hobbycraft’s clearance section – there’s with lots of stuff under a £1!

A close runner up to Hobbycraft for general arts and crafts supplies is Create & Craft who frequently top polls of the best online craft retailer so I’ll leave the final decision on the top choice battle with you!

2. Etsy

While Etsy (and Folksy) are many people’s first choice for buying and selling handmade craft goods but have you ever thought of searching Etsy for craft supplies too? Turns out there’s loads of arts and crafts materials on Etsy at some really good prices too. What’s even better is the money you spend on Etsy is often going directly to a fellow crafter creating a virtuous circle of craftiness or something.

Shopping on Etsy for craft supplies can be a refreshing change from mainstream shopping. With creative people selling (and often making) the supplies you can find some really unique craft materials you’d never find from a high street store.

Etsy-Knitting-Kit

£39.99

Buy Online

Etsy – Triceratops Knitting Kit

All instructions and materials included. From the super cute Sincerely Louise range by critter creator Louise Walker.

A quick browse of Etsy’s Craft Wood section gives you a feel for the uniqueness and variety of craft materials on offer. From pear tree slices to lobster trap driftwood. Have a wander round Etsy’s craft supplies section for yourself but don’t blame me if the next two hours of your life vanishes in the process!

3. Homecrafts

What’s so pleasing about the Homecrafts website is how well crafted it is – it feels like a craft site. I’m not alone in enjoying the site with a 97% rating on Feefo from over 2,000 customer reviews.

Homecraft’s attention to their craft echoes their beginnings in 1907 Harry Peach founded our grandfather company, Dryad Handicrafts. As it says on their About page:

Harry wanted everyone, regardless of age, to enjoy craft. He wanted his firm to be renowned for selling good quality art and craft materials that would encourage successful craft work.

An admirable aim that reverberates through the Homecrafts TV channel on Youtube with how-to videos on screenprinting, mosaic creating, jewellery making and more.

buy art supplies - homecrafts crepe paper

Homecrafts – Doublette Crepe Paper

25cm x 124cm folded sheets of crepe paper with a different colour on each side.

If you sign up to the Homecrafts newsletter (via the post-it note box at the bottom left of the homepage) you’ll get 20% off your first order. With free delivery on orders over £40 and a 14 day no-quibble money back guarantee if you’re not entirely satisfied with your purchase Homecrafts is a worthy top 3 choice.

Our Top 3 Sites for Craft Supplies

1. Hobbycraft – An almighty big range of crafting materials at good prices
2. Etsy – Craft supplies with a handmade and pleasingly quirky touch
3. Homecrafts – A family run feel with its roots in the Arts and Crafts movement

Best of the Rest

Jewellery Maker – THE store for jewellery making supplies with amazing customer service
Sew And So – The UK’s largest online needlecraft shop is huge for the right reasons
Abakhan – Supplying fabrics, yarns and crafts supplies for over 70 years

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Well done – you made it to the end of the longest article I’ve ever written! Hopefully you’ve found some of it useful and if you did I’d really appreciate if you could pass it along to your friends, family and creative colleagues!

Oh and if you liked this you might also enjoy my 10 Ways To Sell Art Online article too.

Last of all for those looking to buy art here’s my 10 Ways to Buy Original Art Online guide.

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