Need Gifts for Artists? 25 Ideas to Try Instead Of Conventional Art Supplies
Most of us feel a little anxiety when it comes to gift-giving. Factor in the impossibly hip creatives in your life, and suddenly the pressure to find fun and unique gifts for artists can become quite the challenge.
Fear not: Artrepreneur has you covered. We spoke to dozens of the coolest creatives we know to get their input on the best gifts for artists, and their responses were delightfully refreshing. When coming up with this list, we wanted to provide some ideas that were a little less conventional: artists need art supplies; we get that. But art making is also mentally demanding and taxing on the body, which means that most artists can use a little TLC in the studio — and throughout their day.
From affordable solutions that show them you care to exciting, big-ticket items that the artist you love often dream about (but won’t get for themselves), you’re sure to find something special and stress-free.
Which may, at the end of the day, be the ultimate gift to yourself. Let’s dig in.
Opt for unexpected art supplies
“Honestly, I know they mean well, but I kind of hate getting art supplies. I’ve been working for over 15 years and am pretty attached to the tools I already use,” shares one professional artist (who prefers to remain anonymous, lest they hurt their loved ones!). But don’t let this statement discourage you: it’s actually sound advice. Unless you’re deeply familiar with what your artist uses, the best solution here is to find fun materials that allow them to explore their creativity in new and unexpected ways.
For the Luddite in your life, an iPad can be an invigorating way to take their work to new levels. Especially for creatives who are more interested in mark-making, it has the added advantage of allowing for experimentation without blowing through hundreds of dollars in costly art supplies. One mother was especially enthusiastic about this gift: “It felt like too much of a splurge, so I never got one for myself. But it’s changed my life. Even if I only have a few minutes to sketch in the car, it gives me a chance to get out my creative energy.”
For the more traditional artists out there, a unique (and affordable) twist on a trusted classic is another sure bet. First created in 1885, Peerless Watercolors are a reminder that big things can come in small packages. These non-toxic, professional-grade paints pack a punch with their wide-ranging, vivid hues, but better yet? They take up less space than a smartphone, making them the perfect choice for the creative on go. We also love the old-school feel, including the vintage packaging and original painting tips that remain unchanged since 1902.
While a bit old-fashioned, we marveled at the number of artists that raved about how much they love a good sketchbook. Karst Stone Paper is a fantastic company providing tons of customizable options, and you can always count on a durable and quality product. And you certainly can’t go wrong with an old-school Moleskine, which has updated designs, should you want to give something a bit more unique (faux fur, anyone?).
Eager to help your artist play with image-making in a fresh new way? The Holga is an iconic toy camera that really packs a punch. Affordable and user-friendly, the user doesn’t need to be a professional photographer to capture soft, dream-like images with ease. The simple plastic design creates light leaks and vignetting that establish a playful, vintage vibe, which could be just what they need the next time they need a little creative push.
If your artist is also a bit of an audiophile, they may marvel at a unique instrument like PlantWave. By attaching two sensors to a plant’s leaves, the user can turn biorhythms into music: just run the signals through the company’s app to tap into a completely different and nearly psychedelic musical experience. Just the thing to keep the creative juices flowing.
For the book-loving artists and writers in your life, a copy of Artrepeneur’s Orange Book is a must-see and must-read. This breathtaking contemporary art coffee table book celebrates today’s most exciting new talent and is a piece of art in and of itself. Treat them to a visual feast that showcases nearly 100 rising star artists, whom you’ll be supporting with your purchase.
Are there any fun knitting clubs, ceramic studios, or dark rooms that your artist has mentioned in the past? Memberships and classes are a great way to say you care while encouraging their creative development! Simply ask around or do a quick online search to see what’s available in their area.
Finally, never underestimate the power of a generous gift card. Whether your artist needs to stock up on studio essentials or finally get that expensive paint they’ve been dying to play with, companies like Jerry’s Artarama are sure to have the tools they need. Better yet, if you’re familiar with a local art supply store that they love to frequent, you can see what they offer and support a local business. We call that a win-win.
Show you care about their self-care
Art-making can be a grueling process, and endless hours of toiling away in the studio can take their toll. Interestingly, what we heard time and time again was that artists were increasingly interested in ways to make their studios more comfortable and find ways to regenerate their bodies and spirits.
Ceramicists in particular, were crying out for effective hand creams, as the process can severely dehydrate the skin. For a special treat that doubles as an aromatherapy session, Aesop’s Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm is a luxe antidote to this common problem. Featuring a woodsy, citrus scent, the balm is particularly relaxing and allows for a quick escape: precisely what someone needs after hours in the studio.
But relief needn’t be expensive. If this idea appeals to you, but you’d prefer a more affordable option, O’Keefe’s Working Hands is a tried and true heavy hitter that gets the job done.
You’ve likely seen a slew of CBD products on the market in the last few years, and the hype surrounding them is warranted. Many people turn to CBD to help manage anxiety, pain, and insomnia, and it can be a powerful tool in any artist’s self-care arsenal. Vermont’s Upstate Elevator Supply Company provides a variety of non-psychoactive products tailored to meet different needs, partnering with a local farm that specializes in USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free, and sustainably grown crops.
Interested in other ways to chill out? Adaptogens have been used for millennia to stabilize the nervous system and bring the user back to a place of calm. They also boast anti-fatigue and anti-depressive effects, which can mean feeling empowered and strong – even when things get tough.
For a fun, mocktail-type experience, Recess fruity drinks are a fun choice. Featuring flavors like peach ginger, pomegranate hibiscus, and blood orange, you can pick your favorite or take your chances on a 12-piece sampler. And if your artist is more into a warming experience, there are options for them, too: MUD\WTR uses ayurvedic herbs, adaptogens, and cacao to give you energy and immune support with 1/7th of the caffeine of coffee. Bonus points: both brands are very on-trend and have chic packaging to prove it, making them the perfect stocking stuffer.
Curious about adaptogens but reluctant to spend? You can easily make an affordable Golden Milk Paste at home! Just give this recipe from the Minimalist Baker a go, track down a small mason jar and ribbon, and you’re all set.
Finding a local masseuse and treating your artist to a spa day is another fabulous choice, but what if you could gift them with hundreds of massages? While it may not be for everybody, the Shakti Mat relies on acupressure to relieve tension and increase circulation. Boasting over 20,000 positive reviews, even the harshest skeptics were blown away by the effectiveness of this simple little mat. The company also believes in providing meaningful and fulfilling employment, providing living wages, emergency medical funds, and educational funds for their employees in India, so you can feel particularly good about your purchase.
There are even other ways you can bring a spa experience right to your artist’s door. This traditional Japanese soaking powder turns an everyday bathtub into a mineral-infused onsen, relieving tension in the muscles and softening the skin. Looking for something a little more playful and fun while still getting the job done? Lush bath bombs come in exciting colors and delicious fragrances, with some adding bits of flower petals or glitter into the mix.
Spruce up the studio and beyond
There was another unexpected trend that we encountered as we searched for unique gifts: a lot of studios are cold, and the creatives we love are often suffering through it. One solution? Fingerless gloves! These colorful options from Gundrun Sjӧdén emit a 90s grunge vibe for the trendy bohemian in your life, warming them up while allowing them to continue using their hands.
We also love a colorful throw, which adds a fun accent to any space while keeping your artist cozy. Cold Picnic creates dazzling designs using recycled, small-batch cotton. Working with a family-owned company that has been operating knitting mills since the early 1900s, these blankets are a must for people that appreciate heritage and quality. But more importantly, they look sensational: with quirky takes on animal skins and even contemporary abstract art, they are thoughtful gifts that exude great taste.
Searching for another trendy option? Chunky knits are another chic solution. MyLuLuLoves offers a variety of handmade choices, with a smaller lap throw coming in at $89 and larger pieces for $139 — and if you’re feeling particularly generous, you can go for something even more extravagant.
Another thoughtful way to help enliven a space is to introduce a plant — just make it effortless! With Easyplant, you can shop dozens of different varieties. Better yet, they are self-watering, which means that even the busiest studio dweller can successfully keep these beauties alive. Our favorite? The money tree: because we can all use a little luck, plus they’re incredibly resilient.
It’s almost guaranteed that your artist has some unframed art lying around, and we all know how cumbersome it can be to finally take care of it. Take away some of the burdens and consider reaching out to your local framing service. Or, you can even look to online companies like Framebridge: you’ll help them check off something from their eternal to-do list, bring some joy to their space, and elevate a piece they already love.
And if your artist is searching for more work to decorate their space, be sure to check out our Gift Guide for Art Lovers! Jordan Baker has masterfully selected some fabulous works from artists like Marvin Nickel, Daniel Hayes, and Szilvia Ponyiczki to help round out even the most eclectic collections. Just remember: the goal here is to add something that fits into their space, so take a step back and make sure the art works within the context of their collection.
Does your artist have a sartorial eye and little time? Bid Bud Press has you covered with their adorable, form-fitting unisex jumpsuits. Made to be worn, they are workwear inspired and include a variety of bold colors and prints in inclusive sizing, making them accessible to most bodies. One artist we spoke with said, “You can go from the studio to dinner.”
Speaking of dinner, we’re all familiar with the stereotype that artists are maybe a little too hard-working: this may be because it often rings true. Especially when deadlines are looming, and shows are coming up, it can be particularly difficult to take care of yourself. This often means forgetting the nourishment you need, putting even more stress on the body. Call up their preferred restaurant or look to online platforms like Seamless and surprise them with their favorite meal. It’s a thoughtful, touching gesture, and it surely won’t go unnoticed. One final hot tip: it also happens to be a lovely thing to do any time of year.
As we rounded up our top gifts for artists, it was interesting to be reminded time and time again that, like most of us, artists are in need of a little TLC. The truth is it’s been a rough couple of years, and we have all weathered unprecedented uncertainty. This also means that we’ve needed to learn to prioritize our health and happiness, and a lot of us can still use a hand. Showing someone you care often means investing in their comfort and well-being. And regardless of whether it’s a lush cashmere throw or a handmade tea, gifting someone a moment of joy is the ultimate way to give.
What’s your favorite gift to give your artist friends and family? Let us know in the comments.
Kate Kelly attended Syracuse University and majored in French Literature, which inspired her to start her first blog, FauxFrench. She has worked as an illustration agent at Morgan Gaynin Inc., a premiere boutique agency in New York, as well as written for commercial and marketing assignments, conducted historical and academic research, journalism, and education