Art Art & Design Fine Arts Graphic Design My Thoughts

Art School Supplies You’ll Actually Use

Your professors have provided lists of items for each of your classes. Each list looks daunting. I’m here to tell you that you won’t use half of the things on those lists. I’ll tell you what you should actually purchase and where to make investment purchases.


My first inexpensive set worked fine so I thought the second one would too. They didn’t though. That set of cheap brushes left brush hairs in my paintings. No need to spend a ton here, at least get a midrange set.


You can’t go wrong with acrylics. They are inexpensive and require minimal skill. I also like gouache paints, which do a similar job but with a little more creamierness, which I like. Only purchase oil paints if part of your curriculum or if you’ll use them after art school. They require a lot more tools to work with them.


When purchasing illustration markers, you will notice that quality doesn’t come cheap. If illustration is something you really have a knack for, invest in Prismacolor. If you don’t feel you’ll use them after art school, just stick to the primary colors.


I did a lot of painting in a Color Theory class that required using tape to mask off areas. If the same case for you, use Scotch Blue Painter’s tape. It’s easier to remove than regular masking tape. The blue color also makes it stand out and keeps others from walking away with it.


There are a million types of drawing pencils. They vary based on their hardness and softness. Buy a few different types to see which ones you prefer working with. Invest in a good quality set of the types you prefer.


A bad eraser can ruin the best of drawings. These aren’t expensive. Try a few different types, such as rubber and kneading ones. Some work better on certain types of paper.

Random Items That Waste Your Money

You won’t use that French Curve. The same goes for those inkwell pens. (You may paint with the ink though). That bamboo brush will just sit in your art box getting its bristles bent.

Artwork Carriers

A basic coated paper carrier will suffice. Just make sure it’s large enough for the size of projects you’ll be doing. Ask your professors for size recommendations.

Art Supplies Carriers

Get a quality case. But there is no need to make a great investment. When I started with a cheap case, the semester hadn’t ended before I was keeping it shut with a rubber band.  I used one from the brand Art bin after my first two cases broke.


For my Digital Photography class I did not invest in the preferred camera. I was more interested in my camera being blue (the concerns of youth). I also knew I would not pursue photography after school. Decide what type of investment you will make based on your goals after school.


This is another item that will depend on your goals after school. A Fine Arts student may not make this investment. As a Graphic Design student I knew quality software on a quality computer was something I’d need after school. During school you’ll be able to use the computers and software at school. If you do really believe you will need these after school, purchase them while your student ID is still valid. Many software stores and computer manufacturers offer student discounts. I used JourneyEd to purchase software with a really deep discount.

The Takeaway

Are there other supplies on your list that I have not mentioned? Let me know and I can give my suggestions. I want to hear from any future art students.

Image Credit 1, 2

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