Think of art supplies and what comes to mind? Typically it’ll be tubes of paint, canvas or fancy paper, brushes, pastels or expensive coloured pencils. True, it is these that will eat the lions share of your budget. There are other stationery pieces though. They don’t get the glory of the bright and colourful paint tubes and aren’t cared for like those treasured brushes. They are the hard working grunts of your art supplies without which the whole operation wouldn’t get off the ground. Below I’ll list some of these overlooked hero items which I use all the time and couldn’t do without.
1. Stanley Knife
Also known as a box knife or craft knife. Be sure to pick up some extra blades and don’t be coy about changing them. Working with a sharp blade is so much easier and you’ll get better results. I use mine all the time for trimming paper, sharpening pencils – particularly pastel pencils, cutting stencils, framing and many other situations that crop up.
2. Cutting mat & Metal ruler
Goes hand in hand with your craft knife. Stops you scoring up your table top, gives you a nice flat surface with a bit of purchase to work on. Be sure to get one large enough. Mine is A2 size and it works well for my needs. The metal ruler is a must if you want to cut straight lines, which you will. Don’t try using a plastic or wooden ruler as you’ll just cut into or shave the plastic or wood and ruin the rulers.
I use a bunch of different tapes, framers tape, packaging tape with fragile written on it. However the two types of tape I couldn’t do without are masking tape and good old scotch tape. The masking tape is used to fix any paper I’m working on in place, on my drawing board for example. Also to mask off areas I don’t want to paint on, as per the name. Scotch tape is so useful for packaging and is a fantastic general purpose utility tape. If you use sellotape for anything, switch to scotch tape it is much nicer to use.
4. Drawing board
Fix your paper to a drawing board, even if working at a desk or table. It means you can easily move your artwork if needed. I often sit in an arm chair in the living room with my drawing board on my lap and the coffee table covered my my pencils. It means I’m not always shut away from everyone else when working on something. My drawing board is invaluable. Don’t rely on leaning on that large hardback book, a drawing board costs a couple of pounds, get one.
I got these initially for shipping labels and to write ‘Handle with care’ warnings all over packaging. They have since proved very useful on a number of occasions. Other than shipping labels there isn’t a particular task I use a sharpie for but I find I grab one so often for random reasons they are definitely worth having around.
The regular pencil. Sure I have a load of fancy pencils, sets of graphite pencils ranging from super soft to hard, charcoal pencil sets and coloured pencils. But none of these get used as much a good old fashioned HB pencil like the type you would have used at school. Grab a pack real cheap after the schools have started back in September. It’ll last years and you’ll always have a sharp tip to hand.
Most of these are common sense and if you do any kind of drawing or painting yourself you probably already use all these items. I enjoy stationery in general and can happily spend time in large stationery stores looking at stuff and wondering if I need it. These are items to look out for though, don’t forget them when you’re next out shopping for art supplies.
Anything I left out that you would have added to the list? Let me know in the comments below.