Gifts for Artists

Gifts for Artists

With these presents, you will put a smile on every artist's face!

Giving a gift to an artist is super simple: Nothing brings more joy to an artist than receiving new materials or tools as a gift, especially for special occasions like birthdays, Christmas, or Easter. And it’s even sweeter when it’s something they wouldn’t have splurged on themselves.

In this article, I’m going to share with you what to look out for when trying to find a gift for the artist in your life and give recommendations on some of my favorite art supplies.

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tips on Finding the Perfect Present

When giving a gift to an artist, it’s important to make sure the gift is something they can or want to use for their artwork. You either already know their art style or you need to investigate a little bit by asking their friends or family, or taking a look at any art they’ve shared online.

Those who draw, for example, always need new pencils or drawing paper. Colored pencils, pencils, or paper pads are therefore not uncreative, but a practical gift.

Oil paints on the other hand can be a tricky gift for artists who don’t normally use them. They take a lot of time to clean up and have strong smells. Also, if you only gift the paints and not the solvents or suitable brushes, the person will have to buy those items separately. However, if you do know the person wants to start painting with oil for sure, it is a good idea to gift a complete set containing all essentials.

Gift Idea: Pencils

Pencils are a fantastic gift because just about every artist uses them for sketches.

My personal favorites are the pencils from Faber Castell and Rembrandt. Both brands offer you excellently crafted leads that don’t suddenly scrape across the paper when you’re drawing and don’t immediately shatter after falling off the table.

Those who like to draw will be pleased with a pencil set (small or large). The sets include different pencil hardnesses, which make drawing with a pencil exciting.

Gift Idea: Pencils

Portrait drawn with LYRA Rembrandt pencils

Gift Idea: Colored Pencils

Faber-Castell Polychromos

The polychromos from Faber-Castell make the heart of anyone who likes to draw with colored pencils beat faster. The leads are highly pigmented and the color can be easily and precisely applied to the paper.

The set has a great selection of different colors and is also at the top of my wish list. They are rather expensive pencils but are worth the money.

Gift Idea: Watercolor Pencils

The Faber-Castell watercolor pencils are something very special to me. I got my first small set as a birthday or Christmas present when I was only seven years old.

To this day, I still love drawing with them, both dry and wet. Because that’s what makes these pencils so special: they’re a hybrid of colored pencils and watercolors and therefore particularly versatile. When traveling, for example, I don’t like to carry around individual watercolor pans, but a few watercolor pencils and a brush with a water tank are great alternatives for travel sketches and take up hardly any space in my backpack.

Prices are based on the sizes of the sets, with the small set providing a solid basic color palette.

Watercolor Pencils Drawing

Faber-Castell Watercolor Pencil Drawing

Gift Ideas: Watercolor Paints

Good watercolor paints are expensive, but they also last a long time. The good news beforehand: you can buy colors individually and thus ensure that you remain within your budget for the present.

My recommendation goes out to the Schmincke watercolors. I use them for all my watercolor paintings and rarely use more than five different colors for one painting.

The offer of Schmincke watercolors is large and ranges from individual pans to tubes. So there is something suitable for everyone, depending on how often and how much the artist paints.

Gift Watercolor Paints

Portrait painted with Schmincke Horadam watercolors

Schmincke Horadam Watercolor Set

Schmincke has put together a great color palette of 12 colors with this paint box, with which you can paint a wide variety of pictures.

Especially great is that there is an additional free rail in the box, which offers space for another 12 colors. So the person receiving the gift can expand their collection themselves or you can gift them more paints on the next occasion. Here, however, you should pay attention to the pan size of 1/2.

Also great is the integrated mixing palette in the box, with which new colors can be mixed.

Individual Watercolor Pans

Individual watercolor pens are a great, less expensive alternative that will still bring great joy. For those who do not paint themselves or can not decide with the large selection, let me recommend to you a few combinations.

3 Primary Colors

Three basic colors are a must-have for any artist! Whether the artist you want to gift them to is starting or a seasoned pro, these colors will always come in handy. They are especially good for beginners, as they can learn how to mix different colors with them.

Recommendations for Portraits

For portraits, it is important to use colors that allow the mixing of hair colors, eye colors, and skin tones. The selection is particularly large here, but in the following, I would like to recommend my personal favorites, which I would not want to do without in any portrait. Whether you gift one or more colors, it will certainly find use.

Burnt Umber is my absolute favorite color because it is extremely versatile. Depending on the mixing ratio with water, you can mix anything from a light skin tone to dark hair color. It gets really interesting when you mix umber burnt with other colors.

Lemon yellow is excellent as an undertone for skin and hair or for mixing eye colors. Even blue eyes can have transparent yellow areas in places.

Vermilion is a red tone but has a slight orange tint. This makes the color a warm red that can be used both when mixing colors and when using it as a stand-alone color for lips, for example.

Compared to Vermilion, Crimson is a rather cold shade of red. Mixed with a blue tone, you can mix beautiful purple tones that work amazing when painting shadows, for example.

In my opinion, no portrait can do without a good blue. My favorite is Ultramarine because I use it for any kind of shadow in portraits. Mixed with umber burnt, it can become almost gray, as the warm and cool pigments of both colors seem to balance each other out perfectly. This can be especially handy when painting hair in a cool shade of blonde.

Technically speaking, opaque white is not watercolor paint because in watercolor painting you layer transparent layers of paint on top of each other, and white would be achieved by leaving out a certain area. Nevertheless, opaque white is often used in the last steps of a watercolor painting (also in portraits) to set accents.

Gift Idea: Paper for Drawing

Paper can be a wonderful gift, because believe it or not, there is also a very large selection of different papers that arouse the curiosity of artists or simply cover a basic need.

Paper for Painting

When painting in watercolor, it is extremely important to paint on suitable paper, because regular drawing paper cannot absorb all the water, and will wrinkle or even fuzz. This can quickly be the end of a good painting, so every watercolor enthusiast should always have enough watercolor paper on hand.

Watercolor Paper

What Not to Give as a Gift

From personal experience, I would very strongly advise against buying a cheap artist’s set with lots of pieces from some store with a completely different product focus during the Christmas season, because unfortunately the quality is often terrible and you don’t enjoy it as an artist.

Cheap brushes that absorb the paint poorly, weakly pigmented colored pencils, stiff drawing figures, or lumpy paint tubes usually end up in the trash after failed attempts to work with them. It’s better to go for quality than quantity.


Photo from Ekaterina Shevchenko on Unsplash


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