Don’t be a mixed media art hoarder

If I let myself, I’d buy ALL the mixed media supplies. Every paint, every type of gesso, every stamp and stamp pad and brush that I could find. But I’m not made of money, so I have to restrain myself.

And actually, NOT buying every single stencil or tissue paper pack has been good for my art. I’m more creative about how I use what supplies I DO have, and more willing to try to upcycle something. If I just bought whatever I wanted, I’d miss out on opportunities to stretch my creative brain.

Not to say that I don’t buy new things. It’s just that I have to make sure it’s worth the purchase price.

When I’m out shopping for new supplies and spot something REALLY COOL, ask I ask myself these three questions:

Do I actually need it, or do I just WANT it?

I WANT everything, but that’s just because I’m a bad impulse shopper. Visiting discount stores like Tuesday Morning activate my “it’s a good deal, I should buy it” impulses like nothing else. What can I say…I get lured in by shiny packaging and deep discounts.

This is pretty typical of a lot of artists, I think. We enjoy trying new supplies, and we like seeing a bunch of paint pots stacked up in our art studio. But most of the time, if you take a second to think about it, you don’t NEED that shiny, cheap thing. You just want it because it’s a “good deal” (or just looks cool).

Give yourself time to figure out if you want something, or if you actually need something. Put it in your shopping cart and carry it around the story for a minimum of 20 minutes. That gives you enough time to get over that initial “I want it” thoughts, and really consider the purchase. (I typically end up putting it back.)

Will it fit with my other art supplies?

If you’re like me, you might be a bit of an art supply hoarder. You get distracted by shiny new paint sets and pretty pastel tissue paper, and discounts or coupons just make them more appealing.

If you’re not careful, you’ll end up buying stuff that don’t work at ALL with the rest of your collection. For me, I tend towards using bright, primary colors with the occasional mossy or jewel tone. So buying a set of pastel paints might be fun, but how often would I use them?

Another example: despite being tempted to buy every single cat stamp I find, I don’t actually use that many image-heavy stamps in my work. I love those dang cat stamps, but I know I probably won’t use them as they don’t go with my art style.

What’s your art style like? What colors do you tend to use the most? Images you enjoy using a lot?

Really take the time to think about whether you’d use a tool or supply more than once, and if you can make it a regular part of your mixed media art. If you don’t think you’d use it more than once…don’t buy it.

If I don’t buy it now, can I buy it later?

If you stick with mostly buying art MATERIALS, like paint, ink, and generic background stamps, then the easier this question becomes. It’s when you want specific images, color mixes, or die cuts that it can get trickier.

Sometimes those things become UNAVAILABLE! Lines close down, artist move companies, the craft store stops stocking it. If you’re still thinking about a certain art supply after two or three weeks, just go ahead and buy it– because if you’re thinking about it THAT MUCH, you’re probably going to end up using it a lot and it’s worth the cost.

Bonus question: do I want this thing more than I want _______?

I’m trying to save up to buy a house, which means every penny counts. Stacked up against owning my own home, most art supplies fall short. If you have a major purchase you’re saving up for, compare it against that $3 art supply. $3 isn’t a lot for a one-time purchase, but 50 of those purchases add up to a good chunk of cash!

How do you avoid impulse art supply purchases? Drop a comment below with your own tips!

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  1. Such great advice AZ! It’s so easy to be excited by something new, and forget all the supplies you have stuffed in the closet at home. Your site looks great, good luck with this endeavor!

  2. Honestly, another question should be… Do I have space?

    That is my main problem! I thrift store shop and I can pick out some really good deals at times but my space is limited at home. So now I have stopped shopping since I am stuffed to the gills. Haha.

    I realize I love stamps and acrylic ones don’t take as much room, thankfully but my two allotted baskets are filled and there is no room for another. So that is how I figure it out.

    I have a select space for a certain supply and if it is full then don’t buy! Well unless I am willing to part with something already in that space and that is usually a big NOPE. haha.

    It’s so easy to get in the buying spree since it makes my heart happy when I see $20 art supplies for $2 lol. However, in the end if I am not using it and it’s going to create clutter in my home, it’s not worth it.

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