When it comes to professional art supplies and the essentials every artist should have in their “toolbox,” high quality, durability, and consistency of performance are important. This doesn’t necessarily mean professional art supplies are much more expensive than student or beginner-level art supplies.
Pro artists generally prefer to invest in better quality supplies because they’ve studied and trained for years, likely going through lots of less expensive materials in the process. Hence, beginner or student level art supplies are not always the highest quality and therefore not as expensive, but that’s not to say pro artists don’t still have their go-to favorites from their beginner days.
So what are some essential professional art supplies? Of course, it depends on the medium with which an artist works, but we’ve put together a general list of supplies most painters keep on hand for the sake of brevity. Because wouldn’t you rather be spending your time creating? We thought so.
- Pencils, erasers, pens and pastels
- When you work primarily in drawing, you need the best tools for the job. Likewise, if you’re a painter who sketches out their ideas first or someone who just enjoys drawing, period, your professional art supplies essentials should include (at the very least) good pencils and erasers. Of course, if you like working with pens and pastels, professional-quality versions will take your work to the next level.
- Sketchbooks and paper
- When comparing professional level sketchbooks to lower quality versions, you must consider how the book sits when open (flat is best), the fineness of the grain of the paper, and if you plan to save your work for decades to come, it should be acid-free. If you’re using pens or markers the weight of the paper needs to be high enough that no ink seeps through the page.
- Perhaps more commonly referred to as canvases, you can find panels by finish, style, or shape, and here at Trekell we even offer custom shaped panels. Panels come in a vast array of finishes, so depending on your medium of choice there’s a panel that is right for your work. Between stretched canvas and canvas panels, the latter is the superior of the two for several reasons--stretched canvas can loosen over time, some artists prefer the rigidity of the canvas over panel as opposed to the “bounce” that occurs with stretched canvas, portability, and durability.
- This one is pretty obvious; it’s tough to paint without paints. The better the quality, the higher the pigmentation, intensity of color and consistency in application, generally determines the price difference between basic, beginner level paints and high-quality, professional paints.
- Palettes are one essential where price doesn’t necessarily make a difference in quality. As far as professional art supplies, there’s a wide range of products at several price points. A simple plastic palette with 10 wells might run you a few bucks, whereas a beautiful and unique wood palette may cost significantly more. Regardless of price, a palette doesn’t have to be expensive to be used by professional artists.
- Brushes and brush cleaner
- Brushes come in such a vast array of makes and models, but a good rule to follow is the higher quality brush, the better to create your work. As far as professional art supplies, you likely wouldn’t grab a set of the cheapest brushes in the art supply aisle of a craft chain store. At a professional level, artists are much more concerned with quality and durability. Speaking of durability, another essential to have on hand is brush cleaner. Always take good care of your tools, and they’ll last a long time and prove a positive return on investment.
- Finally, when you’ve completed your artwork, you’ll want to protect it, which is why varnish is a part of this professional art supplies list. After you’ve spent hours and hours perfecting your piece and have invested in high-quality tools with which you created it, it’s wise to “seal the deal” with a protective layer of varnish over your thoroughly dried paint.