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Why I don't use cheap art supplies

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Back when I was 14, I decided to learn to play the guitar. My teacher got us a sweet deal on a “Yemaha” guitar. “It’s only 2500 bucks!” he said. And we fell for it. After all, it was only my first guitar. We didn’t know if I’d even develop an interest in it. Hence, it made sense to learn on a cheap one, right? Wrong! Not only did I have to endure the constant embarrassment of owning a “Yemaha” guitar, the guitar itself was extremely scratchy and unsightly. In addition to sounding horrible, it was so difficult to play, that my fingers almost bled the first few months.

Four years later, I bought my Yamaha F320, and I finally experienced the pleasure of playing a good guitar! Is it supposed to be this easy to play!? I was puzzled. It’s a miracle I stuck to playing even though I had made it so much harder for myself in the beginning than it could have been.

The same thought applies to art supplies. Whenever I try a new medium, I always try to buy the best quality artist grade supplies. Because that’s the only way I’d get a complete and real experience of the medium. That’s the only way I can experience the true possibilities and capabilities of the medium. Starting with cheap art supplies, I know I would get sub par results, and I’d never love the medium.

When I first started with acrylic paints, even though the paints were high quality, I used the worst brushes. And I immediately formed this opinion in my mind that painting with acrylics is hard! Turns out, brushes are important, and my entire experience of painting was being compromised due to the stupid wiry brushes. Now, I am able to get much better precision, and paint easier because I switched to softer brushes.

What do you do though, if you can’t afford artist grade paints? Save up, and buy fewer of them. You don’t need the 24 colour set. Get the three primaries, and a white, and get going. Experiment. Experience the feel of the medium, and if you like it, save up more and buy more! But don’t start with bad quality supplies. Use good paints, good brushes, good pencils, and most importantly GOOD PAPER!

Realistic Lips drawing I made using the Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils

Cheap Art Supplies = Difficult to use, okay results

Premium Art Supplies = Easier to use, much better results

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