Student Grade Art Supplies
Is It Worth the Savings?
Some of you may have noticed that some items in art stores are labeled “student grade” art supplies. The first thing you may have noticed about them is that they are far cheaper than other similar products. Tempting, isn’t it? Especially as artists. I don’t know many who are swimming in mountains of cash. But just what are student grade art supplies and are they worth the savings?
In a nutshell, student grade art supplies are what most art teachers will accept when you take their class. In other words, most students don’t have a ton of money either. Teachers know this. Student grade art supplies are the best of the cheap stuff. Is that bad? Honestly? No. Not if you’re a student or are just tinkering around with arts and crafts.
What I’ve found over the years though, is that when I’ve tried to get away with using student grade art supplies for professional grade work, it just doesn’t work. The supplies are cheaper for a reason and when it comes right down to it, they don’t perform the way you need them to. Granted, you still need to test out the expensive stuff too. Each of our artworks, techniques, and methods are unique and one brand may not quite do what we want it to. For example, take colored pencils. Some of them build up a waxy film much quicker than others. This may not bother one artist, but may be a huge disadvantage to another.
Even when it comes to paper, there’s an enormous difference in quality. Could I draw my animal portraits on regular copy paper rather than the sheet of paper that costs $5-$8? Absolutely. Would the quality of my work be the same? Absolutely not. The paper that I pay so much for is 100% cotton and resistant to yellowing over time. It’s also a much thicker paper, giving me the ability to work with it much more and get much more depth and dimension to each portrait. It’s also much more durable. Copy paper is easily damaged, is very thin and has very little tooth to it resulting in very flat looking portraits, and will yellow very quickly. None of which will be appreciated by my clients.
Going Cheaper Can Be a Waste
You may find that when going the cheaper route with student grade art supplies that you end up using far more of the material than necessary. Some cheaper paints and oil pastels for example, may not cover as well so you end up using more. Some cheaper pencils may have a tendency to break every time you try to sharpen them. In the end, you may save money by buying the more expensive stuff. So as much as I’d love to not plunk down as much money for supplies, I truly believe the old adage that says, “You get what you pay for!”