The Best Art Subscription Boxes for Regularly Programmed Creative Pursuits
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An art subscription box is one of the best gifts you can give yourself or a creative friend. Typically delivered monthly, these kits come with specially curated supplies, whether paints, inks, or paper, to surprise and inspire you. Because everyone’s preferences are different, you likely won’t be in love with every single product you receive every month. Still, subscription boxes are a fun way to try products you might not have used before or even known about. If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by all the choices at a typical art store, these boxes are also a handy way to hone your tastes so you can be more informed the next time you shop in person. Below, find five of our favorite art subscription services that offer the best deals for U.S. artists. (If you’re based elsewhere, we recommend looking into the cost of international shipping, as that can really bump up the price.)
This subscription service is one of the most consistent in terms of quality and value. The products are almost always exciting, and you often feel like you’re getting a good deal. It’s also one of the more tightly curated options we’ve come across: Packs are often focused on a particular medium or product, and colors and materials are complementary so you can use everything on the same artwork. For instance, a box sent in the past featured a set of Sakura Koi brush pens, with a Sakura micron pen, Pigma brush pen, Pentel Pointliner pens, and other goodies thrown in. Another focused on M. Graham Artists’ oils, also providing walnut oil, a palette knife, and a top-quality Robert Simmons white sable brush. You always get a paper surface as well, and the products are almost always artist-grade. You can subscribe to one of three types of boxes: Petite packs, Paletteful packs, which contain more items, and Young Artist packs, and each box comes with a basic description of tools as well as individual retail prices. Month-to-month, three-month prepay, and six-month prepay subscription options are available; you can also purchase previous boxes and unique packs individually.
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Established in 2015 by artists, SketchBox is an option that leans heavily on drawing and illustration tools. It’s a good option for artists who like to experiment with markers, pens, and pencils and are interested in checking out some lesser-known brands, although popular makers such as Caran d’Ache, Krink, and Van Gogh are certainly represented. Every month, you’ll receive between four and nine supplies grouped loosely according to a theme. Past boxes have featured illustration markers, acrylic inks, technical sketching, traditional Sumi ink, and water-soluble tinted graphites. From time to time, SketchBox also includes special products it’s made in collaboration with various brands; for instance, it has worked with Copic to produce exclusive markers. You can choose either a basic box or a premium box that comes with higher-quality materials. In addition to providing a descriptive breakdown, with retail prices, of each included product, SketchBox has also cultivated a massive following on social media, so you can see what other creatives have made with their monthly materials.
ANOTHER GOOD CHOICE
The Crafter’s Box
If you’re interested in learning a new crafting technique every month and don’t mind spending a premium price, consider this subscription option. Designed for artists ages 18 and up, The Crafter’s Box sends you kits with everything you need to learn skills such as locker hooking, paper quilling, cement hand-pouring, and cold-process soapmaking. In addition to high-quality tools from artisan suppliers, you get access to a digital workshop led by an expert maker so you can learn with confidence. Individual workshops are also available starting at $75.00.
Smart Art Boxes
Smart Art boxes are another relatively expensive option, but you get a generous amount of supplies that makes it worth the cost. Each kit is centered on a specific art form; previous boxes have showcased marbling, Chinese brush painting, scratch art, gouache, hand lettering, and more. The featured brands are diverse and often interesting: You might be working with Sennelier inks, Marabu paint, or Hahnemühle paper. This is a great option for people who would like a good amount of guidance on technique, as each box comes with a leaflet that provides not only explanations of every tool but also pointers on their use and a history of included materials. There are also project ideas and challenges to encourage you to push your skills. One-, three-, and six-month plans are available; in addition, the company offers individual boxes designed as introductions to various media, including hand lettering and colored pencil.
ArtSnacks is similar to SketchBox in its focus on drawing and illustration tools, but we find that it can be hit-or-miss. The product groupings tend to be quite random in terms of color choices and media; you’ll get lots of pens and markers but may not necessarily want to use them all for the same artwork. For instance, one box included a Sakura Pigma graphic pen, Daniel Smith watercolors, a General’s pencil, and a Princeton Kolinsky sable brush. Another featured a blue Marabu art crayon, Sennelier Abstract Acrylic 3D liner, Tombow mono pencil, and Kingart artist brush. If you have a pretty adventurous approach to art, this can be a good way to build up your tool kit; what’s cool about ArtSnacks is it sometimes throws in limited-edition or exclusive supplies, like a paint collaboration with Golden Acrylics. You can choose to receive four or five art products each month, or pay somewhat more and get five to six products plus an appropriate surface for your work. Previous boxes and a full range of art supplies are also available for purchase.