The 6 frugal habits of a penny-pinching mixed media artist

Having recently decided to become more penny-pinching than in previous years, and wanting to get OUT of the habit of just buying everything I see, I found myself developing some new, frugal habits. Specifically, 6 habits that center around re-using, recycling, and “making do.”

Here’s the 6 habits every frugal mixed media artist does without thinking (eventually, after practice).

A frugal mixed media artist…

1. Makes her own art supplies, before buying new OR used.

Making your own art supplies can be fun AND cheap, depending on what you’re making. Did you know you can make your own Mod Podge? A gelli plate in any size or shape you need? Even your own rubber stamps?

Compare the cost of making your own and a store-bought version. For instance, a new gelli plate can cost anywhere from $22-50, depending on the size. A DIY gelli plate, made from glycerin and gelatin, costs less than $10.

Re-train your brain to think first of making something, before buying something. Make it a habit to look for a DIY solution before opening your wallet, and you’ll save money AND become more creative.

2. Buys her supplies secondhand.

What about those things you just can’t make yourself? Why, buy them secondhand!

Just like you should consider a DIY solution before a purchase, always check for secondhand prices before caving and buying new. Oftentimes you’ll be able to get exactly what you want for a much lower price.

3. Uses what she has before buying something new.

Don’t fall into bad hoarding habits. The easiest way to blow a budget is to keep buying paints and bottles of gesso that you won’t use for years.

Focus only on buying what will be the best addition to your supply cabinet. Don’t be lured into a purchase by shiny packaging and discount coupons, but really consider what you need and make smart buying choices.

4. Shares her supplies with friends and family.

Is your family blessed with multiple artists? Share supplies and save money!

My mom and I both make mixed media art, but she focuses more on paper crafts and I focus more on junk journals/paints. However, she has a huge stash of paints, gesso, and Mod Podge from when she was doing mixed media herself– and she lets me borrow it!

Before buying something just for yourself, as your friends and family if they have it in THEIR stash– and then ask to borrow it. Nicely, of course.

5. Reuses (upcycles) materials as much as possible.

Tying back into frugal habit #1: try to reuse as much as you can before you toss it.

Bread bags can be used to store wet brushes when out and about. Cereal boxes become junk journal covers. Junk mail can be turned into collage elements or junk journals.
Throw away things that are obviously trash, of course. But really consider if it IS trash…or if it’s an art supply in disguise!

6. Shops outside of the craft store to find the best deals.

Not everything you buy has to be marketed towards the mixed media artist. In fact, a lot of those supplies tend to be overpriced, particularly if you’re able to make it yourself. Why buy a set of waterbrushes filled with ink when you can totally DIY it for half the cost?

Also, check out the other aisles in your local craft store and see what’s available for a better price than what’s in the scrapbooking or mixed media art aisle. Be sure to also check other stores besides the obvious crafting ones. Maybe a hardware store has a good sale on PVA glue, for instance!

It’s not easy to be frugal when surrounded by so many cool things to buy– I struggle with it myself, constantly. But I know that if I train myself to think frugally FIRST, I’ll save money and learn how to be more creative with the supplies that I have already. And (bonus!) it’s more friendly for the environment to use what you have or buy secondhand, instead of buying everything new all the time.

Are you a frugal artist? Or do you just aspire to be one? Drop a comment below with your thoughts!

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