Monday, December 10, 2007

Resources for artists - art materials and art suppliers

One of the keyword browser searches which leads people to my blog again and again is 'art shops in London'. So far I've only done one post "Art shops in London"(which focuses on L. Cornelissen & Son in Great Russell Street) but I do intend to do more and to create a series eventually.

When I travelled to the USA last year, I checked out where the local art stores were in the places I visited in advance. I also made a point of visiting a number. Plus I've ordered art materials from the USA from time to time. It seemed like a good idea to try and have all the information and relevant links in one place.

When visiting art forums and Google/Yahoo Groups I hear about places where people buy their art materials. This is information which tends to get lost over time until the next time somebody asks the same question. I knew I'd value having all that information in one place.

Finally, it's sometimes easy to find a website but difficult to find the details for where stores are located (artist suppliers please note!). It's handy to have information about location to hand when recommending a supplier to others.

And this is a roundabout way of introducing you to two new squidoo lens I've started.
Both are now included in the Making A Mark - Resources for Artists Squidoo Group I set up for all the Resources for Artists lenses which I've created.

What do they do?
This site provides details about where to find fine art materials supplies in and around the UK. It shares details of online suppliers and the locations of retail stores that you can visit as a retail or trade customer.

Where I have used a store or supplier personally and have an opinion or recommendations then you'll find this listed too. I don't have any recommendations about other sites - other than those provided by other people. Please remember what works out best for me and others might not work out best for you.
Introduction to the Art Supplies in the UK lens
Initially, the main purpose was to make sure I have all the stores I use or have used listed in one place. However I am also trying develop these lenses so that they are more useful to other people as well. I'll be doing this by including links to stores and suppliers that I've heard about.

So far as recommendations are concerned, if I like a store and or have an opinion about it I'll indicate this on the lens. I'll also include any recommendations that I get from people from time to time (so long as I can check out you are 'real' and not a marketing machine!)

I'm also creating modules within the lens for different types of suppliers, for example:
  • online suppliers
  • national/regional retailers with a large chain of stores
  • local independent retailers and areas with a local chain of stores
  • retailers in a specific geographical location (eg art shops in London or New York)
  • retailers offering a good selection of a specific type of art supplies - starting with the ones I'm interested in (eg pastels) and developing over time

These lenses now have a lot of links - but they are also very much a work in progress. Since squidoo works better the more regularly you update the plan is to develop these slowly over time.

I'll be looking for useful links to information of value to people likely to read the lenses....which is where you come in.

How you can help others

There are two main ways in which you can contribute to these lens and help other people find out about suppliers of art materials in the UK and USA.

Firstly by voting in the polls I've got set up. At the start of the lens there is a poll to find out where most people buy their art materials. You can see the questions below. This will help me know how to focus the development of the lens over time.

Where do you buy most of your art materials?

You can also use the feedback module at the end of each lens to comment and/or offer suggestions or recommendations. They're set up so that anybody can comment. Since this is a very competitive market I'm obviously going to be watching out for any 'help' which any site decides to give itself!

Alternatively, leave a comment below and/or tell me about any reviews you've done on your blogs about your local art store or places you use to buy art materials. If you've not done a review why not do one?

Finally - I'm thinking about having another poll on both lenses about what people value the most about their art suppliers. I'd like suggestions as to what you think are the variables which should be included - like 'choice of materials' or 'stock levels'.

So what do you think?



vivien said...

I like Ken Bromley - I usually look up online and then order by phone as it is still a family business and they are very very helpful.

They don't carry the range of larger companies but the prices are very competetive and the 'real person' with knowledge to talk to is a major bonus :)

Tina Mammoser said...

Jacksons and the SAA are my main source, though I do pop to Atlantis when I must. Absolutely hate it though, don't expect knowledgeable staff as they mainly seem to be students.

Fitzpatrick is a lovely shop, a haven for painters. :)

Anna said...

What a great idea!

When in St. Louis, MO, a visit to the Art Mart is a must!
A large store, packed with everything from useful to fun.

These days, I mostly order online due to the prices being so much cheaper, but if I lived close to a large store like the Art Mart, I would probably shop there since I really prefer to see new materials , especially paper, before trying them out.

Michael's is a US arts and crafts supply chain store (the only art store that has survived in my area, and with somewhat competitive pricing). It is a large store, but the art section is quite small and not very well organized. But if I need paper, I will go there, since I can actually see the paper prior to buying.

The Painted Sky said...

Hmmm, "art shops in London" leads people to your blog....In that case I might scribble up a blog post called "Posh Spice nude" or "Britney Spears legs akimbo" and wait for the hoards... :)

Only one problem, making it relevant to art?

Meanwhile, I am constantly surprised as to what search words bring people to my blog.

JT :)

Katherine said...

Jim - much simpler- why not just try writing one on "art shops in Australia" and watch what happens!

Katherine said...

Anna - thanks for that one - I'll add it into the USA lens and include your comments if I may.

Katherine said...

Anna - I didn't spot their links page before I wrote my last comment. Now that's what I call a great community oriented art shop!

Jennifer Rose said...

I have shopped with Jacksons, my supplies arrived fast and were packaged well.

The local Burns and Harris has a nice selection of art supplies, but most of the staff have no clue about the stock and just a very basic knowledge of art and art supplies in general. If I ask if they have something, I usually get a shrug of the shoulders and a blank expression and no offer to help me see if they do have what I am looking for. I am sure it is not like that at all of the stores, but it does put me off of going there unless I need something quickly.

I have been to Dunn's Art Store in Perth,Scotland. It is a small store, but it is well stocked and the staff were very helpful. Last time I was there they had almost every brand of coloured pencil in sets and sold a few brands in open stock. Lots of different paper to choose from.

I have also been to Michael's in Canada. Lots of craft materials, small art section that was not cheap. But they often had supplies that other art stores in the area did not have. When they would have sales, I would usually buy my supplies there, as they were a lot cheaper than local art stores than.

And another store in Canada (I know, not the States, sorry) is Currys.
Great store. The one I have been to in Hamilton is very well stocked, very helpful staff and nice prices. I could spend days and lots of money there lol. :)

If I was still in Canada I would probably start a lens for art stores there. :)

Katherine said...

Thanks Jennifer - great contribution!

I do hope some other people will start lenses for their countries. If they do I'll include them in my main Squidoo Group Resources for Artists which includes art lenses by other people.

I could make mine USA and Canada but my impression is that the suppliers are somewhat different even if a few are the same.

Katherine said...

Comments on Scottish suppliers now added in to the UK lens - plus I came across a website of an artist called Jean Duncan who's done an amazing listing of Scottish art shops by county.

Angela Fehr said...

I'd love to see a list of Canadian art suppliers. I do all my ordering of art supplies from because in our rural area, there isn't much selection for art materials.

Katherine said...

I'm happy to put a lens together for Canadian artists if you can all provide me with the information about which suppliers you use.

Felicity said...

Katherine, do you have any info or articles about packaging artwork and posting it (for commissioned work)? This is something I've been having enormous difficulty finding out about. How do other artists prepare their artwork - is there a standard or is it a variety of ways? Is it flatpacked or in a tube - if so how does one ship pencil drawings and get over the problem of smudging? How does one cut the frames or are there standard sizes? I may have to commission a work to find out! This are not questions I'm demanding answers to but the sort of questions I have that have been a stumbling block for me. If you can point me to any info, suppliers or even images so I can get an idea, I'd be very grateful!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Felicity - I know what I do and I've equally struggled with supplies.

I think the best way forward on this one is for me to do a blog post this week and I should get a load of answers for you!

Of course I can't promise they'll all be available where you live!

Packing depends on what you're sending. If it's just a drawing it is a LOT LOT simpler than if it's in a mount or if it's in a frame.

I tried ordering stuff from other people to see how they sent things - it's very interesting! ;)

Smudging - I can give you the answer straight away. Get some glassine paper and tape it over the work so that it's got a tight seal. Like wrapping paper. Plus don't leave it inside an envelope where it can move around.

After that you need
- something robust but lightweight to provide a good support to prevent bending - like the backing you can get on stiff envelopes or the still card which comes with calendars.
- something to protect it against getting wet (you don't know where the post will leave a parcel)
- something to contain all the above - and which is big enough that it leaves space for the customs declaration, two sets of addresses etc etc!
- tape - because it's best to never trust to glue on anything!

In the meantime, hoard the boxes which Amazon send books in, all bubblepack that anything comes in, a neat selection of plastic bags for when you're not sending in a waterproof envelope...........get the idea? ;)

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