3 Tricks Every Artist on a Budget Should Know

With inflation, rent and interest rates rising, life is getting pretty expensive. Throw in Christmas and school holidays and your card is whipped from your purse so often, you think it might catch fire.

You have a little time to paint and create over the break and could really use some new art supplies but, for aforementioned reasons, it's a bit out of the question (unless you cleverly popped them on your Christmas wish list!)

Materials can dwindle quickly in our commercial studio of 15 designers. And, like you, we’re on a budget. 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!

So here's how we rein in our art supply spend, in hopes to get you through this holiday season with piles of beautiful, completed work and your credit card in one piece.

1. 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. Wet it with a little water and it will liquify once more. So don't rinse away ALL your left over pigment. Save unfinished palettes and cover with cling wrap to protect from dust and dirt.


Same applies to your paint tubes. When you've squeezed out as much as you can, snip off the top and get the last bits from the bottom, even if they have completely dried out. 


2. Maintain the shape of your brushes

  • A brush is only as good as the condition it’s in. The Print School instructor, 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 will save you having to buy brand new ones, so worth the effort.

3. Recycle, reuse, rework your paper

  • Did you know the front cover of your good watercolour pad is made from the same paper as the rest of the pad? So use it for your finished work – the quality is the same. 

  •  Use the back of scrap paper as paint-testing paper or a table protector. Get it from unwanted print outs or old note books.

  • 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 DO like? Scan that bit to use in future designs in Photoshop.


    For more tips on how to save money on art supplies, check out this video right here.


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