To be an artist all you have to do is cultivate a talent or skill. That’s it. “The rest,” as Rabbi Hillel sagely noted, “is commentary. Now go and educate yourself.”
Art can be paint on canvas. But more broadly it is a skill you like or desire, that uniquely speaks to you and that, with practice, helps you more fully express yourself. Some art is shared with the world. Some, one keeps to oneself.
Writing for the internet is an art. One that seems to manifest itself in helpful list-type articles that people search for and skim through for clarity and wisdom. Well, you can’t skim for wisdom but you might be able to find a list of tools that you can acquire to help you with your artists’ journey.
Here’s a list of 9 artist supplies everyone would do well to have:
An Open Mind
How can you learn without an open mind? When your mind's made up you’ve sort of cut off the possibility for any change or growth in that area. To fully explore a subject you must be open to the possibility that whatever you currently know to be true could be wrong. You could turn out to be right. But how will you know unless you open your mind?
Something that can be used to record your thoughts. For me, it’s a pencil. I like the smooth regularity of a pencil. They never jam or leak or are a little runny or a little dry. They just work. Your pencil might be a voice recorder. Or a dance floor. Maybe if you’re hardcore, a stone tablet. Whatever it is find your pencil. And also pick up a literal pencil - they come in handy.
An Art Museum Membership
Art museums, even small ones, have vast collections of work produced by people like you and me but from across generations and spanning cultures. Purchase a membership. It lets you enter the museum as many times as you’d like - for free. It’s like a VIP pass that pays for itself. Furthermore, exposure to the knowledge and ideas available at a museum is priceless. Memberships also make good gifts.
Don’t worry if you can’t sketch. Don’t believe me? Henning Larsen is a progressive architecture firm that designs buildings that seem to live and breathe. But you know what? They are pretty bad at sketching. Here is an example. Amazing right? It could be a napkin, it could be a notebook, it could be a sketchpad. Get sketching - sketches can anything. Need a place to sketch? Check out these stone paper pocket diaries - small and durable places to store ideas for later use.
A Room of One's Own
Just like the Virginia Woolf essay, this can be taken literally and figuratively. Space, where you are free to explore ideas, can be a room, or a notebook, or whatever you can find at the time. Sometimes, it’s just in your mind - like meditating for 10 minutes a day to get focused.
An X-Acto Knife / Good Pair of Scissors
Not a very philosophical or deep suggestion but not a bad one either! You may find yourself reaching for these tools more often than you think. Want some inspiration? Look no further than Lola Dupré.
Even better, how about these watercolor crayons? With a bit of water and a little knowledge of color theory they can be mixed and blended into nearly any color you could possibly want. These are also great if you’re trying to cultivate a love of art in your kids - not only do they produce vibrant colors but they’re also completely non-toxic.
Clay is an amazing material. It can be turned into pottery, sculptures, and even toilets (or maybe even sculptures of toilets). Artists of all ages can use it to create something fantastic and new. This clay comes from Padua, in the Venuto region of Italy, and you can shape it in molds or by hand. You can paint it or varnish it. What would you do with this clay?
A Piece of Chocolate
Chocolate making is an art, and it’s a delicious one. A good piece of chocolate can cheer you up when you’re feeling down. It can help you get unstuck if you find yourself blocked. It’s a good icebreaker too. Don’t believe me? Pick up a bar of this white chocolate infused with lemon oil and lemon salt created by Denise Castronovo. Take a nibble and be inspired!
When you close your eyes and picture what “an artist” looks like perhaps you see a person toiling in front of a canvas. Maybe you see a dancer in fluid motion. Whatever you see, whatever your vision of an artist, we think there’s one inside each and every one of us. We hope our list of “supplies” helps bring out yours.