Monday, June 22

How to Save on Art Supplies

Today’s Image
Some of My Art Supplies

I was out yesterday and found some good deals on art supplies although I hadn’t planned on shopping for them at all. That’s what makes it even better I think, like winning something unexpectedly.

If you follow the OrbisPlanis, then you know I’m frugal, which is a nice way of saying penny-pinching. I will tell you that’s true. It’s not that I wouldn’t pay the ticketed retail price for quality items and art supplies, but why would anyone when it’s so easy to find sales and bargains on brand name products?

Unless I’m completely out of something or must have a specific item or color I almost never pay full price for my art supplies. What that means is that I’m always shopping for supplies subconsciously, and that’s how I keep my art studio cart fully stocked.

I know there are different retail and art supply stores depending on where in the world you reside, and you may be somewhat limited. That being the case, some of the information in my blog may not be applicable in all cases, but the principle of shopping for bargains will be.

Here are some things I do to find savings:

Clip Coupons - Subscribe to the Sunday newspaper and save the advertisements and supplements of local arts and crafts stores and office supply stores. As regular as clockwork, two major arts and crafts retailers in my region of the US advertise their weekly specials in the Sunday paper. Every other week either one or both of these retailers include a 40 percent or 50 percent OFF coupon on any one item in the store. This is how you can really save on high priced supplies, such as the most expensive paint, or a high ticket item, such as an easel or light table. When you know you’re going to need or want something, just wait for the weeks when these coupons are available. And these coupons are in addition to other specials also included in the ads. I know a lot of people don’t subscribe to a newspaper at all, but the money you spend on the paper can easily be recouped in your savings on art supplies with these coupons.

Shop Clearance Aisles - When I happen to be in the neighborhood of one of the art supply or crafts stores, even if I’m not out shopping for any supplies, I will stop to check out their clearance aisles or sections. Not all retailers have clearance sections, but the ones in my area do, and I shop them regularly. Also, depending on the size of city you live in, they may have multiple locations—go to several locations within a reasonable distance because different items will be on clearance at each location. You don’t want to drive for an hour just to save $1US, but for example, there are 14 locations of one of the arts and crafts stores in my metro area, and I shop the clearance aisles at the four nearest to me. I’m always finding paint that is just past its expiration date or paint brushes or pencils that have sat around on the shelf too long. These are brand names, too. Watercolor paint in the 17 ml. size can be marked down as much as 75 percent. I got a 60 percent discount yesterday on 11 Prismacolor watercolor pencils in the clearance section. What a deal.

Ask for a Discount - So simple. That’s how I got 20-percent off a 3-pack of 300 lb. (640 gsm) Arches watercolor paper yesterday. There was a sign that advertised the 140 lb. paper on sale at 1/3rd off the regular price. At the checkout counter I just asked if they ever put their 300 lb. paper on sale, and was told they would give me a 20-percent discount right then, so I bought it. That meant each sheet was only $8.33US. If you were to buy a single sheet, not on sale, it's $17US. What a bargain. Also, while you're there, sign up to receive their email online specials.

Since you’re reading the OrbisPlanis online, you’re probably thinking, what about shopping online, can’t you save a lot? My experience has been yes and no. You will normally see cheaper prices online than in a retail store, that’s true. However, you almost always have to pay for shipping, and that can negate the savings. I know, they often offer to waive the shipping charges as a special, and if they do, it can be a good deal. But watch out, if they waive the shipping charge, they may have a minimum quantity or purchase order you must spend to get that deal. And have you tried to return anything?!

Bottom line--caveat emptor.



  1. Also, when things are on sale, stock up! Opus is having a big sale in the next couple days and I'm planning on getting extra of the things I tend to go through quickly: white paint!